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A former board member and active volunteer found her way to a facility in Boston after she had been diagnosed and treated for colon cancer. In her own words:
“As a single 35 year old with no family history, the diagnosis caught me completely off guard (although, I suspect most people are surprised by a cancer diagnosis regardless of age or family history!) The most that I could do was get myself through treatment. When treatment ended and I was re-establishing myself, the emotional impact of what I had gone through caught up with me. Fortunately, I had heard of TWC (the Cancer Support Community’s predecessor) and was able to go to one of the monthly networking groups for people with colon cancer. There I found a room of approximately 12 people and a professional facilitator leading the group and helping them deal with their colon cancer diagnosis. Everyone was able to share their experiences, connect with and learn from one another.
“As fate would have it, a month later I was diagnosed with breast cancer; again, no family history. Having the benefit of a prior cancer diagnosis, I decided to do things a bit differently. Rather than wait until treatment was over, I decided to stay engaged with TWC and joined a weekly support group. I also participated in countless activities: yoga, tai chi, meditation, life coaching, comedy night, creative expression, education workshops, etc. Every program I attended left me feeling the warmth of connection.
“As many with cancer know, the experience can be isolating, fearful and confusing. Additionally, there are moments of joy and peace. Here was a place where I could go and express all of what I was feeling about cancer – my fears of pain and death, my joy of meeting new people who knew exactly what I was feeling without having to explain myself, my sadness about not having the life I had imagined…it was a life enhancing experience and helped me find a quality of life despite the constraints I was facing.
“My doctors saved my life. The Cancer Support Community saved my spirit.”
Cancer Patient Margot Larson believes in the value and mission of CSC-SCT and urges others to help build the community she and others need.
“As a cancer patient, what I need and yearn for is the moral support and resources that could help me navigate these difficult waters. I am an astute advocate for myself, but I need more. I need a coach; I need a place to go when I am confused and overwhelmed. While I get excellent medical care at Smilow, and find our cancer support group helpful, it’s not enough. There is no other place for me to go. Most cancer support organizations offer help when you have completed treatment.
“I am living with cancer. I may never be out of treatment – I have Stage 4 NSC (non-small cell) lung cancer. For many months, it may all be good news. I feel good; I look well. And then a test shows progression of the disease and I need to dig deep to my toes to find the fortitude, hope and courage to move forward.
“I believe that the Cancer Support Community is the answer and that’s why I have volunteered, joined the board, donated to the cause and assisted with finding an Executive Director. I hope CSC will open its doors in time for me to benefit from the fruit of our labors; if not, at least it will help others like me.
“Help us open our doors, sooner than later.”