Cancer: Finding Sunshine in the Storm

On an annual basis, I take a breath from my life and reassess where I am and where I want to go. As I age life has challenged me and my family. My husband was diagnosed with Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML) in 2007 and we lost Dad to a brain tumor in the spring of 2010 . Cancer isn’t a stranger to my family and considering the statistics, it may also be a familiar and unwelcome visitor in your life.

For many the word cancer produces fearful images so I developed this page to address the ways my husband and I manage life in the face of fear. Sometimes I believe I’m progressing in my understanding and other times I think I’m in a hole digging the wrong direction. However, life isn’t perfection. It’s persistence.

As a nurse, I’ve seen the effects of cancer from a child with Wilms tumor to the young men who died much too young from testicular cancer. As a woman, I’ve walked the journey with my husband and helped care for Dad. The paths were not easy to follow. But each journey led to the discovery of another piece to the puzzle of life-something constructive I can apply to my life.

To date, I’ve found a little blue sky in cancer’s storm:

•A cancer journey is not a gift, but the people I have met along the way are.
•A serious disease compels you to face your mortality and once you accept that fact, life’s gifts of health, friends, and family become more precious.

For us, a cancer diagnosis created a compelling need to learn and understand. I became the advocate for my husband and Dad. I performed research, developed questions and quizzed my support team of healthcare professionals who I respected and trusted.

Loss of control and the feeling of being powerless was the most frightening for me and my family. We learned we couldn’t change the disease or the outcome. However, we could control how we managed our lives in the presence of the disease. This gave us a constructive purpose. No matter the outcome, the disease couldn’t rob us of this piece.

As a patient advocate, I kept one thing in mind: healthcare professionals can provide information, treatment recommendations, and advice. Treatment decisions must be made by the patient and family. At the end of the journey, we need to recognize that we have made the best decision for our family.

This is our story.