By Victoria Li, a member of CSC’s Young Leadership Council
I lost my mother to cancer just a month after I turned 24. Following her diagnosis of stage 4 esophageal cancer, she braved through more than two years of aggressive chemotherapy, radiation and surgery.
Losing people you love to cancer is of course tremendous to bear. Ask anyone who has experienced it—what’s said will likely bring you to tears. Stories of dashed hopes, of unanswered prayers, of lost time could shake your faith to the core. They knell of unavoidable pain as well as of our own fragility.
It is precisely during these difficult times, when you feel like no one can help and you’re very much alone on uncertain paths, that organizations such as the Cancer Support Community can make a real difference in your life.
Its online resources and local affiliates offer direct peer connections that can help you find emotional and social support in addition to medical care. Read up on the latest research and tips for family & friends. Participate in the Cancer Experience Registry. Care for your own emotional well-being.
If there is anything I could share in earnest, it is that if you are faced with a significant treatment decision for yourself, or more important, for someone you love, you should prioritize the patient’s quality of life. I’d urge you to consult CSC’s Open to Options program – in which a trained specialist can help you sort through the tough questions that need to be answered in order to arrive at a treatment decision that best fits your individual circumstances. Do not make decisions out of fear. The problem you confront is not one of life and death; too often the battle against cancer has been told in this narrative. As an old saying elucidates:
“The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong… but time and chance happenth to them all.” Ecclesiastes 9:11 KJV
Rather, what we can do, and can do exceptionally well, is seek comfort and healing in each other. Put simply, by being fully present, we can experience joyful moments that will last for a lifetime. I urge you to leave any stress at the door before engaging the patient in a real conversation about his/her feelings and thoughts. Respect his/her time by treasuring every moment. Do remember that the patient is the one who must endure, both the disease as well as the trauma on the body induced by medical treatments.
The Cancer Support Community is a close community of devoted individuals who love to help. They help you get the answers you need to live the fulfilling, loving life you deserve. When I learned about the Cancer Support Community, I knew that I wanted to become more involved, and to give back in this way that I know is so important to all people living with cancer.