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The lonely patient


One piece of advice we hear often for those newly diagnosed with cancer -- for both the patient and the caregiver -- is to ask for help. Set up a caregiver team. Keep a list handy so that when people ask what they can do, you can tell them. Set up a website to keep everyone informed. If you're a caregiver, make time for yourself. Remind people that you can only eat so many casseroles and bowls of pasta. This is great for people who have that support system in place. What we forget sometimes is that there is a large group of people without that support.Carol reminded us of that fact.There's a forgotten group of cancer patients and survivors out here.I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in 2008. Ever since that day, nearly every book, every article, every health care worker, every group, advises us how important our family and friends are and how much their support will help get us through our disease and treatments.I have no family left except for a few cousins 1,500 miles away and friends, but not close ones. So I went through three surgeries, chemo and radiation entirely alone. I had to work part-time because I have only one income -- mine. I lay in bed every weekend with sores in my mouth and throat, pain in my arms and legs unable to clean or cook. I had to pay someone. There was no one to get me a drink of water when I couldn't walk to the kitchen because the pain would shoot through my feet and up my legs with every step.I spent Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve and New Year's Day alone. Christmas I did have dinner with a friend and her family -- it made me feel more alone. I do belong to Gilda's Club South Florida, but they're closed on weekends and holidays, and most cities don't even have them.I'm not alone because I'm a terrible person or because no one likes me; it's just that my family members have all passed away, and others have their own busy lives. I'm sure there are others who are in this situation as well. There seems to be a support group for just about every patient and every caregiver and every type of cancer but none for us who have no family or friends to make up a support system. What about us?I'm bringing this to your attention as an appeal to you to reach out to the cancer patients who are going it alone like I did.I would love to be able to round them all up and bring them to my place for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, Valentine's Day, Fourth of July, Mother's Day and Father's Day, Ground Hog Day, Arbor Day, Flag Day....LOL. It would be great if there were someone to get the word out to those of us in different areas of the country, and someone to help us connect with one another.No one seems to realize that we're out here because we have no one to tell. Will you help? Thanks.Very truly yours,Carol BouletVero Beach, Florida A few years ago, CURE touched on this topic in "On Their Own." It offers tips and suggestions on how to travel the cancer journey as a solitary patient, but I think Carol's suggestion should go to the top of the list. Are there support organizations or groups for solitary patients and survivors?

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