I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed Helen Osborne’s article, “The More You Know,” in the Winter issue. It really resonated with me and my own experience. I also had early-stage breast cancer. Usually I seek out all kinds of information about every malady under the sun, but when I was diagnosed I avoided the computer like the plague. It was a week or more before I could bring myself to Google the staging of breast cancer. Each day I would allow myself one more teaspoon of information, if I thought I could handle it.
Amy Curran Baker
Cortlandt Manor, New York
After reading “Layman’s Terms” and “The More You Know” I sat for a moment thinking about whether I want to know anything more about what is going on in my body. But I don’t, because I can do nothing about it—no more radiation, and certainly no more chemo. So what will I do with information about how the cancer has progressed or not? Will it not just add to my stress levels and make me more anxious? I think I must stay focused on living day by day, staying fit, and doing things I enjoy. I know this may not go down well with some cancer patients, but I have an idea that it will be met with enthusiasm by quite a few others.
The Soutpansberg, South Africa
I was very pleased when I read Helen Osborne's article, "The More You Know." I especially appreciated that she said each person should decide how much cancer research information is right for them. I was diagnosed with stage IIIc ovarian cancer in 1987. There was no Internet and therefore information was not at my fingertips. My mother said, "Let the doctors do the worrying." After all, my gynecologic oncologist was the one who went to medical school, followed by an internship, residency, a fellowship, plus all his years of experience. He performed my two surgeries and prescribed my 2 1/2 years of chemotherapy. I had complete confidence in him, and just went with the program. Thank you for this article. I believe it will help those going through treatment to relax and not feel compelled to take responsibility for their care.
The article on cancer and ancestry in “The Color of Cancer” supplement struck a chord with me. My family is Jewish, and my mother and three of her sisters have been involved with the National Institutes of Health’s family study since the 1960s. We lost my mother and two of her sisters to breast cancer. Her brother was a carrier of the BRCA1 gene mutation and had colon cancer. My two sisters and a first cousin have breast cancer. I was 33 when I found my tumor and the doctor told me I was too young to worry about it. I pushed the issue because of my family history and they finally did the biopsy. I also found the second tumor. The mammogram missed both.
Toby Joanne Black
Bowling Green, Kentucky
In March 2009 I celebrated being a five-year breast cancer survivor. In June, I was blindsided with a diagnosis of early-stage colon cancer. While they told me I was lucky to have caught it when I did, all the memories and horrors flooded back from five years earlier. I had just passed the mark where I could donate blood again, get a cancer policy (which I did!), and stop looking over my shoulder. Then wham! I had to start all over again. Could I face another five years? You bet I can! I beat it once, and I will beat it again.
Bowling Green, Kentucky
As someone with a fairly new breast cancer diagnosis, I have found the issues of CURE I’ve received invaluable. As someone whose science education was rather spotty after dissecting a frog in eighth grade, I appreciate the clarity of CURE. You make the abstract concrete.
After the sudden and unexpected death of my mother from kidney cancer, I searched for a way to deal with my shock, anger, and loss. I discovered hospice and decided to train and become a volunteer. In doing so, I educated myself about this illness. Soon, my grief began to fade and in its place the ability to help others, both patients and caregivers, deal with this disease.
In May 2001, I was diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer. All the questions I thought I knew the answers to, I now found myself asking. I am grateful for the background I have in dealing with my diagnosis. I now have even more confidence in counseling patients—been there … done that.
Cancer has redefined every aspect of my life: my relationships with my higher being, my family, friends, and my body. Remember to accept the help of your family and friends, turn to your higher being for support, and above all, never give up hope.
Mary Ann Menichiello
I've had kidney cancer for 13 years and non-small cell lung cancer for 11 years. I'm OK today, but why do I feel like a veteran and not a survivor? I have never felt like a survivor. I’m just fighting to breathe another day. I wish someone would consider renaming us "cancer veterans." I always felt survivor meant a person who is just hanging on, and a veteran, based on the definition from Webster’s Dictionary, is "rendered competent through trial and experience" and a "seasoned traveler."
Pete Glasheen, Phys.D.
Long Beach, California