The Patient's Voice
Dealing with a cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming not just for the person diagnosed, but for his or her family and friends as well. Attempting to keep loved ones updated while going through treatment and keeping up with the rigors of daily life can be incredibly exhausting for patients.
For a cancer survivor, it’s enough to lay you flat. There’s a day when you learn that someone who has been in your survivor universe is no longer a part of that universe. And this news not only shakes you to the core, it roils the pot of emotions resting on your internal stovetop to a vigorous boil.
As a 7-year breast cancer survivor, my primary feeling most of the time is awe and gratitude that I’m still here. I can savor life’s small moments and big events, from sipping a piping hot tall dark roast to celebrating my dear friend’s 50th by dancing my you-know-what off!
I am 60 years old and an ovarian cancer survivor. I’m also an emergency department doctor who usually is treating people, making diagnoses, and being the one in charge.
I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends: The Role of the Support Group in Breast Cancer Survivorship
“Wow, those meetings must be sober events.” I’ve gotten this and other similar comments regularly over the past 6½ years since I received my diagnosis of stage III breast cancer in 2007. Fortunately for me and many other women, the assumption couldn’t be less accurate.
I’d been meaning to wash my car for days, and was pleased to see I had just enough time to fit that little task in before sunset. Just as I’d finished and hopped into the driver’s seat to move the car back into the garage, my cell phone rang.
I do not think my situation is unique. I live in a large city with horrendous healthcare. If you do not live in such a city, you may not believe that I live in the United States. I do. Most of you, I imagine, live in places—urban, suburban, or rural—similar to mine. Hopefully, because you have not been seriously ill, you do not know it.
If I had to grade my oncology nurses, I would give them, as a group, an A+. They have saved my life, cleaned my privates, kept me company, rejoiced with me when I was discharged, and consoled me with every wave or trickle of bad news I have faced during my care.
I spent 8 long months in a city far from my own, undergoing intense chemotherapy and then an autologous stem cell transplant. Eventually, after a longer-than-I-would-have-liked stay in the hospital and another few weeks living close to the hospital in case of emergency, I was sent back home with a bagful of medicines and instructions on how/when/with what to take them.
I spent 8 long months in a city far from my own, undergoing intense chemotherapy and then an autologous stem cell transplant.
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