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Mentor, navigator, advocate ... these are just a few of the people that you may have been touched by as a cancer survivor.
Most times, the people who fill these roles have faced cancer on a personal level as well. They've walked in your shoes and may have similar experiences to share. The art of caring, listening and supporting is so valuable.
Helping others make it through the experience of living with cancer is an incredible gift. They help you navigate your way through diagnosis, treatment and the time after treatment ends, which can be the hardest period.
People in these roles often want to give back by providing support and guidance to others who may be just at the beginning of their cancer experience. This is an empowering experience where the person helping oftentimes gets back as much as they give. For the person receiving the support, it's just so good to be with someone who knows exactly how they're feeling.
At Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, we are so fortunate to have American Cancer Society Navigators and volunteer survivors who work in the Cancer Education Center, Pink Ribbon Mentors who support breast cancer survivors, a strong group of men who organize the Prostate Cancer Support Group, as well as countless other advocates and community support.
Please share stories of how you've been touched by people in these supportive roles. Whether you were on the giving or receiving end, both are equally important!
Sheryl M. Ness, R.N.
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The diagnosis of cancer is a part of living that no one wants to confront in their life. The first words asked are, "Am I going to die?" Cancer changes your prospective on living. However, I learned that it no longer is a death sentence, but rather a life-threatening disease. You must have hope, faith and support to improve your attitude. Our attitude should inspire us to be survivors and not victims. Fight for your life, it is worth it.
I have been recently told that my dad aged 61 has stage 2 terminal cancer of the liver, also through the lung as small cell they have only said he can have chemo, is this right or is any other treatment available for me to prolong his life?
19 years ago I was diagnosed with a poorly differeniated .8cm infiltrating duct cancer of the breat treated with lumpectomy, axillary node dissection(10) which was negative and radiation therapy. I was cancer free until this June when my breast cancer exam found a lump in my other breast which was found to be a .9 cm node negative, triple negative ( to eatrogen etc),stage 1b grade 3 new breast cancer.
In addition to a lumpectomy I have been advised to have 6 rounds of taxotere and cytoxin before radiation therapy which I will start next week.
I am not happy to undergo this chemo but have been told it will reduce my chances of recurrance from 30% to 20%.
anyone with similar problem
4 years ago I was diagnosed with Stage III, Lobular carcinoma of the breast. I had faithfully got my mammograms yearly for ten years since I was age 35. The type of cancer that I had did not show up on mammograms until it was very large it had been growing for years! It was 7.5 centimeters when discovered. By the grace of God, the PET scan had showed that it had not spread to other organs. I had a bilateral mastectomy, 8 cycles of chemotherapy and 40 radiation treatments. I am a nurse and I felt highly priveledged to continue to work taking care of others while i was being taken care of myself. I felt like I was in one big circle of love. I could actually feel others praying for me. I felt joy instead of fear. I have had many opportunities to speak to other cancer victims and it has been a blessing from God, when they say that I helped them, given them hope.
I was cancer survivor for several years now. I had my total thyroidectomy on 1999, several treatment was done and until now I am taking my thyroxin everyday. Just recently I was diagnosed with cervical cancer last April 2010, my whole world shut down, worried about my children and to add that I am a single mom! In the beginning I was very irritable, depressed and aloof to my family & friends. But my family never gave up. I have done all treatments i.e. chemo-radiation & brachytherapy. Everyday is new day for me fighting in order to survive. My doctors are very patient and they did their best to explain and they let me understand about my problem.
My cancer diagnosis in 2009 made me committed to helping other cancer survivors by becoming cancer coach. I read the post here and many are hear wrenching with people desperately seeking answers. Is it possible to offer answers to some comments? Please let me know how I can help.
so many people have left me before i leave them..its all fear but so many wonderful people embraced me and love me so well....it a journey..live...love and laugh...it all i got..
We have a support group founded by, and staffed by, a local RN who has herself survived breast and ovarian cancer. The Breast Cancer Bridge in Elmer & Vineland NJ is available to all survivors. The nurse I have been counseled by, Doris, has walked more than a mile in our shoes, and finds strength herself in helping others. She was there for me during both of my diagnoses and was instrumental in helping me find the strength to go on with the business of life while dealing with Stage 4 BC. Just knowing I can pick up the phone and call this wonderful organization she founded has seen me through some tough moments. Before throwing in the towel, perhaps others can look to their local hospitals for a similar group.
I was diagnosed 11 months ago with Merkel Cell carcinoma. It is very rare and as a result many doctors have never seen it nor is there an established treatment plan. I joined an online support group which has provided much up to date information but mainly hope and caring. I now have another family that cares and works hard to help others with Merkel Cell cancer. I have been able to donate blood and tissue for research which might help others.
Oops, forgot to add the 2nd LC site, it's Cancergrace.org
In addition to the Mayo sites I have found 2 outstanding support sites, specifically for lung cancer survivors. The first is inspire.com where fellow survivors answer your questions, give support, advise & inspiration. Really an uplifting site. The 2nd site is also supportive but it's main purpose is to answer your lung cancer questions. It is hosted by a group of oncolagist's from around the country. In addition to answering your questions they have video's, blogs & discussions on all aspects of LC. Both these sites have helped me a lot.
I received an operation to remove a brain tumor that turned out to be cancerous over nine years ago. I had an excellent surgeon who spent six hours removing the tumor that was about the size of an average lemon. I was fortunate that the tumor was one large piece and did not have any external features that would have made the operation more difficult. Since I was in very good health and only 52 years old, I received full radiation and chemotherapy to ensure that any possible cancer was eliminated. Since the operation in 2002, I have had follow-ups with the surgeion that included a new MRI with liquid every six months. Each visit was successful and the doctor did not see any problems. Now that I am almost at 10 years, I feel that I am a survivor and each morning I wake up to a new day with a smile. Prior to my operation, I did not feel sick, but people at work said I was sending strange e-mail responses for a couple of weeks before I was checked out at our local hospital. The Controller and Vice President of Human Resources took me to the hospital for a full review. Finally, when it was time to conduct an x-ray of my brain, all had gone well. But the x-ray showed that I had a real problem and the surgeon removed the tumor two days later. I was so fortunate to have coworkers who were honestly interested in my health and a surgeon that performed a fantastic job and following-up with me for the past 10 years. Today I wake up each morning to a new World.
Elaine, my experiences have been similar to yours. Last September, I thought I had the flu and, after 2 visits to walk-in clinics, (I was traveling)I ended up in the hospital for 5 weeks with a diagnosis of AML. This was followed by 4 more weeks in the hospital, each a month apart, for consolidation chemo treatments. Throughout my illness and treatment, and even now, many people were praying for me, texting, e-mailing and calling to support me, especially during my self-imposed isolation after treatments to avoid infections. My only family is my brother, who lives about 90 miles away, but I learned that I had an extended family of loving friends and neighbors who helped with whatever I needed. But without a doubt it was my faith in God that sustained me and sustains me still. I now appear to be in remission, although I know my leukemia can return at any time. I have been able to pray for and befriend several others who have a similar diagnosis and have been knitting chemo caps like the one a friend made for me. I don't know how I would have gotten through the winter without it, and it gives me great pleasure to pass on the comfort it provided. I take them to the oncology floor where I was hospitalized and to my oncologist's office. I have also given away several copies of a devotional written by women with cancer, a book that meant a lot to me when I was diagnosed. I know that I am called not only to help where and when I can, but also to witness about my faith.
I have had numerous treatments of chemo over the past 16 years and have found that, in my case, fatigue can occur at any time. Even after not receiving any chemo for years. I have found drinking water, during the course of the day can lessen the severity of the fatigue , it never stops completely. The fatigue "issue" as a permanent side effect of chemo or your particular cancer. It almost always appears to be dismissed as temporary. After speaking with numerous cancer patients, I found I'm not alone on this. The majority of the pharmaceutical community seem to say it's not their drugs doing it. I understand their rationale which has nothing to do with medicine or the patient. But,in all fairness to those cancer survivors who have chronic fatigue, please note that fatigue may not go away after the chemo has stopped or the disease is in remission. I hope this helps some to feel they are not alone on this..Keep a positive attitude and don't feel guilty about what you can no longer do.
In April of 2009 I had surgery for lungcancer. Two pieces of the cancer were removed, and I was sent to the cancer clinic to see if anything else should be done. It was decided that it was not neccesary, since all the cancer was removed. Last November my doctor told me that it had mastesized, and I was started on radiation. Three months later I had radiation again, this time for the rib bones,and now I suffer from extremely pain again, am on opioids, and Tylenol, every four hours. I too, put all my hope in God, knowing that it all is in His Hands. Yet I feel worse every day, many people have, and still are, praying for me. For twenty years I have suffered with PN, and am not even considering Chemo treatment for that reason. At times I feel that I cannot cope anymore. My oncologist, (the third in 5 months) has sent me to the pain clinic, and now I am on a regime of more painkillers. What am I to do? I am becoming very teary, and can not even answer people who ask how I am doing. I would appreciate any help I can get.
When I was undergoing surgery, chemotherapy and radiation for late stage endometrial cancer, many people were in prayer and in regular e-mail and telephone contact to support me. I have been cancer free for three years now and have been able to be a "special friend" to several women with a similar diagnosis to mine. They were diagnosed after I was and sadly, now have all died of their cancer.
I have also been able to relate to a brother-in-law with advanced colon cancer and to a couple of other people as well. I feel compelled to be there for people diagnosed with cancers, particularly women with gynecological cancers. I also urge them to not ignore any changes in their body or body function.
I think this is one of the "gifts" of cancer to be able to come along side of someone and be there for her/him. Sharing the experience helps both the receiver and giver.
Above all, I have been able to share my faith in God as the source of my peace through the the entire cancer experience. Since peripheral neuropathy took me by storm and I use either a cane or walker, peole will ask me what happened to my leg. I have renewed opportunity to share my experience and my faith.
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