Monthly Archives: January 2014

Help From Afar – Laurie’s Connection to Cancer Story

Laurie’s Niece

Laurie Hicks is on the board of MyLifeLine.org. Today she writes a guest blog post for us and shares her connection to cancer story.
I haven’t had cancer but I do have to say I HATE CANCER!!  There are too many people I know that have had it or are going through it.  One of those people is our niece.   At the young age of 30 she was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma and the fight was on.  She had a rough road ahead but she was tough and an inspiration to so many people.  As a family this was very difficult news.  She and my nephew live in Las Vegas and most of the family is here in Colorado.  It’s a helpless feeling when a family member or dear friend needs love and support and they don’t live around the corner.  That is when I really understood what MyLifeLine.org can do for patients and their loved ones.  Our niece was very open to use MyLifeLine.org and we were all open to using it as well.  I found it a wonderful tool to stay connected while being so far away.  Sending messages of support or funny sayings or photos was great!  As a family we also were able to send meals through Meals-to-Heal found through the website, which made us feel like we were helping in some way.  From a loved one and not the patient, MyLifeLine.org is truly a life line to cancer patients fighting the toughest fight of their lives and who need support in many ways.  I am very proud to be a Board member of MyLifeLine, not only because we are able to raise funds to help so many patients and their loved ones but also because I have personally experienced this tool and my family and I have been blessed to see a cancer patient in our family become a survivor.

Laurie’s Niece & Cancer Survivor

One Day at a Time

Tricia, Post Author

When you are diagnosed with cancer, one of the first things you do is to try learn everything you possibly can about the heart-wrenching news you have received.  You have so many questions and you want the answers to all of those questions NOW.

What is a fine needle aspiration and core biopsy?  How much does it hurt (needle = pain!)?  How is a biopsy performed?  Will they use anesthesia?  What is pathology and what do all the results mean?  What does Stage 2B mean?  What is a lymph node?  How do cancer cells grow and more importantly, how do I stop them?  Did I cause the cancer?  What is a lumpectomy?  If I have surgery, will it get all of the cancer?  Will I need chemo?  If I do, will I be sick or lose my hair?  What is radiation?   What is a port?  Does it hurt when it is installed in your chest?  How is blood drawn from a port?  What??  There is a needle in your vein??

Then you start asking the even harder questions of yourself.  WHY ME? I have been kind, generous, loving and joyful.  I am a good wife, mom and friend. I have dreams to finish.   I want to see who my children will become.  I want to see them graduate, go to college, marry, raise a family, and experience the joy of grandchildren.  I want to retire with my husband, travel, spend time together after raising a family.  Will I die before my dreams come true?  Do I need to write down the “Bucket List” and start crossing things off TODAY?  Why did I wait to do the things that I always said I was going to do?

Cancer gives you more questions than answers.  My oncologist nurse, Tammy, gave me the best advice.  Tammy said to enjoy the things that I can, when I can and to take it ONE DAY AT A TIME.  She told me to not get ahead of myself or to insist that I know all of the answers immediately.   Pray, meditate, laugh, cry, research carefully, talk, love, hug, but most of all, one step, one day at a time.   Learning this helped me at doctor appointments, before and after surgeries, through chemo, radiation, reconstruction and even today, 4 years later as a “survivor”.  I always have the fear that my cancer will return but I don’t allow that fear to overwhelm me.  I accept that it will always be with me but I take it one day at a time, enjoying my life with my husband, my children as they grow, marry and bless us with grandchildren!

One day at a time.

 

My Dad, My Hero – A Cancer Story

I will never forget April 25, 2013. I was representing MyLifeLine.org at a conference for oncology nurses, telling them about the free support services our nonprofit provides for cancer fighters and their friends and family, when I got a call from my Step Mom, with news that my Dad had just been diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer. My Dad had been experiencing a lot of unexplainable abdominal pain and while I suspected this would be the diagnosis, I was shocked, sad, scared, and numb all at the same time.

I spent the remainder of the conference educating nurses who came to the Mylifeline.org booth about our services, grateful to be keeping busy instead of dwelling on thoughts about my Dad. I was also comforted knowing one of them just might be taking care of him. My Dad loved his nurses.

When I did talked to my Dad after returning from the conference, he said “I want you to know that I am okay with this”; he sounded so calm. I felt comforted by his voice and he sounded just like my Dad pre-diagnosis.  After we hung up, my thoughts returned to the road ahead for him. I was sad and scared for what he was about to face with his treatment.

My sister and I were able to visit him in Florida a few weeks later. He was three weeks into daily radiation and weekly chemo treatments and doing remarkably well. His appetite was good, he felt good. I remember one night while we were out for dinner, he held my hand. I had tears in my eyes and kept my head down so he wouldn’t see. The last thing I wanted was for him to have to comfort me when he was the one who needed comfort. Thinking back, I am sure he knew and in the true role of a parent he was comforting me. The last time I saw my Dad, I hugged and kissed him good-bye three times. I told him to be well. I didn’t know that would be the last time I would see him.

My dad passed away on July 18, 2013 after being in Hospice for just a few hours. Nothing prepares you for what you will feel. I felt deep sadness. Sadness for my Step Mom, who must now live without her life partner and sadness that my Daddy was gone.  The man who supported me through all life’s ups and downs. Our relationship was not always perfect, it was only within the last decade that we gre closer and I’m so grateful we had that time together even though it was mostly long distance.

It has taken me some time to be able to write this story. I will remain forever grateful for the kindness and compassion everyone has shown me and my family around the loss of my Dad. I can only hope to have the opportunity to repay that kindness and consideration.  I will take this experience and use it to better serve those who come to MyLifeLine.org, whether they seek to give support to a patient or get support from friends and family.

I have the honor and privilege of serving MyLifeLine.org as its CEO and remain humbled by this opportunity to provide a solution for the communication needs that arise when someone is faced with a cancer diagnosis. Please consider using MyLifeLine.org. While you may not be able to control what is happening to you or a loved one health wise, you can control how you give or get support.  To those using MyLifeLine.org, I remain inspired every day by your courage and spirit and thank you for trusting MyLifeLine.org to provide a tool that will help you receive emotional support. I also thank you for letting me honor my Dad by telling my story because in my world, he was my hero.

 

 

Melissa Bowen is the current Chief Executive Officer for MyLifeLine.org and a regular contributor to this blog.