"You have cancer." Three words I can’t imagine hearing from my doctor. What would I do? What would I tell my kids? Where would I go?
In 2006, my husband and I moved our family from the Midwest to Texas. I started a "job" at The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) as the North Texas Chapter’s Patient Services Manager. We moved here to be close to my husband’s family – an amazing group to whom family means everything. His grandfather – "Papa" – had chronic lymphocytic leukemia and had been living with it for years. He was the foundation of that family – hard worker, quiet, but with a quick wit and avid Ranger’s fan. I thought he was the first person I knew who had a blood cancer. Little did I know, how many people in my life had been touched by a blood cancer. Amazing what your eyes are opened to once you look around and listen. My childhood swimming coach – multiple myeloma. A high school diving teammate – Hodgkin Lymphoma.
Other cancers too had hit our family – "Nana" fought breast cancer and WON! Uncle Steve fought pancreatic cancer and lost. My mother-in-law beat cervical cancer and melanoma. Papa’s years of cancer, treatments and side effects finally were too much and in 2008, he died. Cancer seemed to follow this family.
Late in the summer of 2007, this family’s core was rocked. "You have cancer." Those words once again hit this family. This time, my father-in-law. Lung cancer. He had surgery immediately and began chemotherapy. The chemo did not set well with him – he had all the possible side effects. He did well for about one year and then he relapsed. It hit with a vengeance. He fought. His family fought. Cancer won. On July 4, 2009, at the young age of 54, we said good-bye to an amazing father, son, brother and grandfather. Why?
Then, fall 2010, once again... "You have cancer." This time, uncle Kent. Lung cancer again. His battle was hard, but short. Cancer took him, too young at the age of 54, around Thanksgiving.
Too many losses for one family. I hate cancer. Cancer SUCKS!
My "job" at The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society has introduced me to some of the most amazing people you will EVER meet. Full of spirit, fight and courage. Facing unbearable obstacles, they take on cancer. They fight. Many win. Too many (any, is too many for me) do not. Many care for those who are fighting. Wives, sisters, brothers, parents, doctors and nurses. All fighting for one thing – to BEAT CANCER! Cancer changes them…it changed me.
I have the pleasure of talking to these people. I say I have a "job" at LLS, but it is much more. It is with me at all times. It is who I am. And I am proud of that person. A fighter. An advocate. A helper. Helping them find support, providing education, linking them to resources and listening. I am inspired by all those I have met. LLS has provided me with another family. One made up of amazing fighters – staff, parents, patients, families, nurses, social workers, pharmaceutical reps and doctors. We all have something in common…cancer has taken something from us and we want to stop it. We all have our place in this war. Do you? Can you join us? Do you want to beat cancer, too?
"You have cancer." Don’t be afraid of those 3 words. My "job" is to make sure you do not feel alone and to let you know someone is there fighting with you. I have the privilege of helping and comforting those with cancer today. I have the honor of fighting for cures that will change all cancers for the future.
LLS is leading the way in research, patients services and public policy. You would be amazed at what has been accomplished. But we are not done yet. There is a place here for you…and you can make a difference. Join us.
To learn more about what LLS is doing to change the world of cancer and to learn more about your disease and survivorship issues, join me on Saturday, February 28, 2013 at UTSW for the 8th annual Lone Star Blood Cancer Conference. This conference offers a full day of education, support and inspiration. www.lls.org/ntx/lonestar
I live in Prosper, TX with my husband, two sons and two dogs. I love the mountains, horseback riding, being outdoors with my family and the Texas Rangers!