By My Side, When Cancer Struck Twice

Extraordinary Healer®, Extraordinary Healers Vol. 9, Volume 9, Issue 1

An essay honoring Betty McEver, RN, OCN [Cayuga Medical Center in Ithaca, New York]

Betty McEver, RN, OCN - PHOTO BY SHERYL SINKOW

I was diagnosed with Stage 0 breast cancer in August 2013. Going through various tests over a period of two weeks changed my life. After Labor Day, I had met with the surgeon for the lumpectomy. All was set for surgery on September 20. In the meantime, I had more tests and met with the radiation oncologist up at Cayuga Medical Center.

I was to have six weeks of radiation. That day, after discussing the upcoming radiation treatments, I met with Betty McEver, who was there to put me at ease. I was so nervous I had lost my voice. I had so many questions, and she had the answers I needed. She helped me with transportation and helped in putting me in touch with resources to obtain grant money to help with expenses. I was able to get assistance through the bus service to pick me up from work, take me to the center, and then after treatment take me back to work. This was so helpful throughout the six weeks, alleviating some of the stress for me. Betty gave me a ton of information — and a much — needed hug before leaving.

My sister (also a cancer survivor) and I signed up for the Cancer Resource Center Walkathon held in Ithaca on October 26. After our 5k walk, we had seen Betty flipping pancakes for the breakfast and giving more hugs (in the air). The times I was at the center, she was always there with arms wide open, asking how I was doing. She always remembered my name.

After having the CT scan done for the markings/tattooing for the radiation treatments, I found out that I had an abnormal thyroid. I had an ultrasound shortly thereafter to confirm the abnormality. At my last radiation treatment on November 25 I had received a certificate for finishing the six weeks of radiation.

With help from the thyroid clinic, I had an appointment for a biopsy on the thyroid on December 5. That same day I had found out that I had thyroid cancer. When word got out to others at the center, Betty was there once again with arms wide open. Both Betty and another dear friend (Kerry) from the Cancer Resource Center were with me for the preadmission appointment for the thyroid surgery. They both said it wasn’t fair for me to have these two cancers, and to have the diagnoses just before the holidays. We all cried together. I had surgery on December 18, with no complications.

My next appointment follow-up was with the medical oncologist at the center. Betty was there again with her always open arms. My sister had posted our picture from the Walkathon in the newsletter for where she works, so I showed it to Betty. She made copies to send to others because she was so proud of me getting through all this as well as I did, and how good I had looked. It is the attitude and how strong a person is that counts in fighting all this cancer and enduring the treatments.

There is a reason for everything, as my Dad would always say. I count myself lucky for having breast cancer; if I did not have the CT scan, the thyroid cancer would not have been found. Betty was with me from day 1 and continued to help me with upcoming doctor appointments. And I know that Betty will always be there for me, with a hug ready.