Comments from you, our readers, from the 2019 Spring issue of CURE®.
Don’t Underestimate Faith
by Elizabeth Lazration from Chatham, New Jersey
I want to thank you for including the story “Keeping the Faith,” by Theresa Sullivan Barger, in the 2018 December bonus issue of CURE®. I am a survivor of stage 4 colorectal cancer, diagnosed in 2004. Yes, I am now 15 years post-diagnosis without evidence of disease. When I first received my diagnosis, I was working as a clinical research nurse at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey and was fortunate to have a skilled and dedicated group of colleagues who were instrumental in my treatment. As a research nurse, I was well aware of the impor­tance of my surgeries, chemotherapy and radi­ation treatment, which would vastly improve my outcome and prognosis. However, I have found that little is known regarding the other variables that are critically important to long-term survival rates — things like hope, social sup­port and, most importantly (to many), faith. As mentioned in this article, “there are things outside the realm of science and more within people’s spiritual faith” that can’t always be measured or hypothesized.
All I know is, I prayed all the time when I was undergoing treatment and can’t even begin to count the Hail Marys I said while I lay on the radiation table, during chemo and before being wheeled in for surgery. I was also very thankful for all those around me who shared prayers for me. Faith and spiritual awareness should not be underestimated in their value to help those who have cancer to manage care, feel comfort and survive.
Faith Pulled Her Through
by Tina J. McConnell from Edmore, Michigan
Last night, my daughter-in-law gave me my first copies of CURE®. She is a newly licensed nurse practitioner who has cho­sen our local oncology center as her first appointment, motivated by the opposing experiences of losing her father to cancer at age 48 and watching me not only sur­vive but also thrive after my own cancer diagnosis, received at age 46.
I was struck by the title of Stephanie Hosford’s book, “Bald, Fat and Crazy” (December 2018 issue), as I, too, received two pieces of life-altering news just days apart. In my case, however, it was the potential of losing my job, as I was placed on leave Dec. 1, 2016, after a run-in with my boss, and receiving a cancer diagnosis on Dec. 19 (after a biopsy and lumpec­tomy). I chose to have the recommended partial mastectomy days before Christmas, because I feared losing my insurance coverage if the school board for which I worked made good on its threat to fire me.
I’m used to being in charge of my own life. I am an organizer, the go-to arranger in every group. But like Kim Green in your article “Keeping the Faith” (in the same issue), I had to let go and let God. I have always felt strong in my faith, but until that point I had not truly turned my life over to God and didn’t even realize I hadn’t. Faced with what felt like no way out and no control over our situation (we had one son in college, and we live on the family farm — would treatment wipe out all of that if I lost my insurance?), I prayed: “God, I can’t figure this out. I can’t figure out what I’m supposed to do. I can’t solve this problem. So, I’m going to turn it over to you, and I promise to wake every day and bravely face whatever you give me.”
The school board did decide to fire me, without cause. However, God sent one attor­ney after another as each handed my case to the next more qualified to handle my unique situation, ultimately saving both my benefits and my job. God gave us medical team mem­bers who were not only skilled medically but were also my champions, both personally and professionally. They were angry on my behalf at people they didn’t even know and cheered me on as I took on multiple part-time jobs to stay in the workforce during treatment and the investigation.
There were days when getting out of bed was the one thing I promised God I would do. Then I would promise to take a shower and get dressed. Then I promised to eat some­thing. Recognizing that I only had to do one thing at a time and then decide if I had it in me to do the next kept me focusing forward.
When working part time, undergoing treatment (three surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation) and fighting for my job became too much, God sent me the wisdom to put my professional fight in the hands of my legal team and focus my energy on working and treatment.
In the summer of 2017, I finished treat­ment, interviewed (bald) for a new career (and was hired) and was offered my old job back (but declined), and we had our first grandchild. God delivered. My faith had pulled us through.
I’m approaching 12 years in remission from adenoid cystic carcinoma in my left breast. I have chemotherapy-induced neu­ropathy of my hands and post-mastectomy pain but am otherwise healthy and active and live life fully and gratefully every day. At age 58, I am two weeks from embracing yet another new career. God is good.
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