STORIES OF HOPE – THE “CELEBRATE THE BUMP IN THE ROAD” CAMPAIGN
Hundreds of cancer patients are assisted each year by the South Central Cancer Resource by their community’s contributions. The Non-Profit Organization would like to pay tribute to their stories. Join us as we “Celebrate The Bump In The Road” Click HERE to submit your “Bump in the Road”.
Stories from Fellow Travellers
“Last June ( 2017 ) my family doctor suggested that I complete a stool test. He felt that there was not a problem but as a precautionary measure he asked me to submit to such a test. About 3 weeks after I had submitted my sample he called me into his office and said that there was a trace of something, not to worry , but he wanted me to have a colonoscopy done. I concurred and in September I had a colonoscopy done at the Grace Hospital in Winnipeg where they removed 4 polyps. The surgeon thought that they were all benign but sent them in for further testing. The tests showed that there was a trace of cancer on one of the polyps. So a surgery date was set and I had approximately 18 inches of my large intestines removed. The surgeon removed the entire area of the intestines where the polyps were located. He feels that they removed all of the sources of cancer. I’m doing well now, however I’m having regular checkups with another colonoscopy slated for December . I did not need chemo or radiation treatments and feel very fortunate that my cancer was caught very early. Thankfully my family doctor insisted that I take the stool sample and have it tested as I had in the past been somewhat reluctant to take it because I was not convinced that it was a good or reliable test. I’m also very grateful to the South Central Cancer Resource for helping with some of my travel expenses as the hotel stay and travel costs to the city can add up quite quickly. In dealing with the staff at South Central, I appreciated their professional and caring manner in which they dealt with my application for financial help and any concerns I had.”
– Melvin Klassen
“Cancer is a wild ride, constant curveballs, so hold on! I was diagnosed with Stage 2 Hodgkins Lymphoma at the age of 35. I had zero symptoms and felt fine. I had a physical done a few weeks prior and everything was perfect. A few weeks later, I went for my regular massage like I always do and my therapist recommended that I get checked because she felt some abnormalities in my neck. I happened to have an appointment the next day with my GP for some other ongoing issues. I mentioned my neck to my doctor, she felt around and turned around and started madly doing paperwork. Being someone that has had health issues in the past I wasn’t too concerned until I saw ‘Cancer care referral’ on the paper with my name on it. I knew in that moment, it was my turn to walk this journey, but I didn’t know how bad it was or where it was. How did I know? I don’t know….it’s just what my gut was telling me.
From that day on it was a whirlwind of appointments and scans to confirm everything. I went for a CT Scan and received a phone call within 3 hours of my appointment and my doctor confirmed my suspicions…it was likely Cancer. But further testing and biopsies needed to be done. Once all the testing and diagnosing was complete….another whirlwind started, prepping for Chemo, starting Chemo, more scans, more appointments, being in remission and then relapsing and needing 20 rounds of radiation, being in remission again and needing another 20 rounds of radiation. That was my journey in a nutshell and it lasted about a year and half.
When you are diagnosed, you just don’t even know what to think or how to tell people. It can be pretty overwhelming, but you are so wrapped in learning everything you need to learn, having your life put on hold, all the appointments, starting treatments…it’s just a lot to take in, and you don’t fully process what is all happening, until it’s ‘over’….but it’s actually never over, it’s with you for life. There is free Counselling offered through Cancercare…don’t be afraid to access that help. But for myself I had my family, church family and my work family swoop in and help wherever they could with meals, visits, coming along to appointments, giving rides when needed, bringing flowers, you name it, I got it. While all that is helpful and necessary…most people assume Cancer is all physical and the mental stress is often overlooked. It can be very difficult to open up to someone about that because it is so complex. There were many days that I just didn’t want to answer “How are you feeling?” anymore. I couldn’t truly tell people, because they always said you look great. News flash! Looks can be deceiving! I have no hair, I feel like falling over, I feel and look like a blimp, I haven’t been out of bed in days… but thanks for the compliment. For those reading this and are asking themselves what is a better question to ask other than “how are you feeling?. I found it much easier to answer the question, “how are you today?” Every day is different and “how are you feeling” is a very overwhelming question to answer, it’s almost impossible. Sorry if this offends anyone, but it is reality.
It is very different to be diagnosed at a young age. It brings many different stresses than if you were diagnosed later in life, when typically that is the age you deal with Cancer. You deal with financial issues when you are trying to establish yourself because let’s face it Cancer is so stinkin’ expensive! Losing your hair, eyebrows, eye lashes….devastating, labelled a Cancer patient for life…..frustrating, losing your independence/identity…..maddening, side effects don’t go away the day Chemo or radiation is done…..frustrating, returning to work…..exhausting, maintaining a house…..exhausting, have your spouse be your main caregiver and having to keep working full time……exhausting. People you thought would support you don’t…heart breaking…people you didn’t think would support you do…surprising! It truly is a wild ride!
When I was done treatments and finally got my remission status. I thought “oh good it’s all over now, life can go back to normal”. One of the first things my Oncologist told me is that most patients find remission status way more difficult and emotionally have quite a crash after. I had been fairly strong throughout this whole process, I didn’t believe her in that moment. But? She was right. You might think, now is the time to celebrate. That wasn’t the case for me. For so long I had been in fight mode and had very big crutches to help me walk this journey. In an instant, my crutches were gone and I was all alone and felt nothing but numbness. I was left with many questions…..What now? When should I go back to work? How will I go back to work? What does God want for my life now? I still feel side effects…is the cancer really gone? Will it come back? I have a lot of years ahead of me. I had all these goals and dreams for my life..will they still happen? Why was I healed? Why don’t some people get healed? Survivors guilt? The Cancer is ‘gone’ but I have appointments for 5 more years? The list goes on and it’s on my mind daily.
I don’t feel angry or bitter that I needed to walk this journey, but why did I have to walk it? I don’t know…but I am certainly not the same person I was before. In some ways I grieve life before and who I was before and in some ways I have changed for the better and look forward to what the future has in store. Amongst all the garbage of Cancer there can be some beauty in it, if you look for it.
Last but certainly not least…South Central Cancer Resource. Where would I be without them? They have helped us through this journey so much and we will be forever grateful. They are an amazing organization with no government funding. They help patients with helping pay for fuel costs, hotel costs, volunteers to drive you to appointments if needed, offer yoga classes, art classes, beauty workshops and the list goes on. Those classes are where people find support and community. Being rural involves countless trips to Winnipeg for appointments, I had 109 appointments to go in total over my year and a half. Thank you to SCCR and thank you to those that are reading this that have donated! You money is needed so very much in this community!
Every day is a gift, don’t take it for granted! You never know what life will throw at you.”
– Benita Bage