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Voices
December 10, 2007
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December 10, 2007
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December 10, 2007 – Lacey Meyer
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December 10, 2007 – Lacey Meyer
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December 10, 2007 – Susan Leigh, RN
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December 10, 2007 – Megan Kinkade
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December 10, 2007 – Teresa McUsic
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Voices

Heal asked readers to tell us what people said that helped or hurt them during their cancer experience. 

PUBLISHED December 10, 2007

Heal asked readers to tell us what people said that helped or hurt them during their cancer experience.

One afternoon ?after school I stopped at the clinic to have my port flushed. I felt especially down, depressed and tired. I sat down beside a very elderly lady who probably weighed 80 to 85 pounds and was taking chemo. As she looked at my 5-foot-4, 150-pound body, she asked, “Honey, what kind of cancer do you have?” I told her, and she replied, “I wish that I had that kind so that I could gain some weight.” 
I left that dear sweet lady, thankful that I was blessed with lymphoma.
— Martha D. Washburn, Corsicana, Texas

The hot shower ?was running over the 2-week-old scars of my double mastectomy. I had made up excuses so that my 3-year-old daughter would not want to shower with me. The little saline that had been injected into the expanders had me looking like a 12-year-old. My little one appeared unexpectedly at the shower door with nothing on but a smile and the request, “Mommy, can I take a shower with you?” I hesitated for just a moment, trying to decide what would cause more conflict — saying “no” or just letting her in. I said, “Sure, come on in.” She paused a moment looking directly up at my chest and stated matter-of-factly, “So, what you’re saying is that you just don’t have nipples anymore.” I assured her that she was right and that the great doctors would be making me some in the near future. It was never discussed again. Out of the mouths of babes. 
— Lisa Baker, Lake Jackson, Texas

I was diagnosed with breast cancer (DCIS, stage 0) in November 2005. I had a mastectomy, in addition to two subsequent reconstruction surgeries. One of the things that someone said that hurt me the most after my cancer treatment ended was, “Well, DCIS isn’t really considered cancer, is it?” And I thought, “Do you think they took off my breast because it wasn’t?!” I was really hurt by this comment.
— Julie Brethauer, Downers Grove, Ill.

After completing 16 months ?of chemotherapy for ovarian cancer, a co-worker saw me perusing a book on cancer. She screamed from across the room that I was “obsessed.” She went on to say that I needed to let it go and think of something else. She said, “It’s over, it’s done,” and for me to put it all behind me. I replied that I was trying to get past the fear of recurrence, deal with the side effects of so much chemo and be able to function at work at the same time. We work in an elementary school. 
She said that since my ovaries were out, it couldn’t come back. She then added that two people she knew had a worse cancer than me and they are fine now. When I tried to enlighten her on her ignorance, she walked away.  
— Rose Semenas, Edison, N.J.

I am 94½ years old. I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 93. “I’m not surprised that I got cancer,” I told my doctor. “I never ate fruits and vegetables. I lived on candy, cookies, cake and potato chips all my life.”
“I think I’ll go on your diet,” the doctor answered.
— Gertrude Johnson, St. Paul, Minn.

I am a 20-year survivor ??of stage 3 ovarian cancer. I had two surgeries and 2½ years of chemotherapy. When my brother phoned me on my first birthday after diagnosis, I asked him how old I would live to be. It was my 42nd birthday, and he told me I would live to be 95. I thought, “He is a doctor, he should know.” He told me what I wanted to hear. 
— Helen Palmquist, Lincolnshire, Ill.

When I told my wife ?I had lymphoma, she asked whether I was going to kill myself. Then she said she wanted a divorce. I was about as down as a person can get. 
My first visit to my oncologist was a big relief when he told me I had 10 years. Well, it’s been 17 years now — the best 17 years of my life.  
— David Brewer, Bremen, Ga. 

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