Prior to October 2013, I was busy being a stay-at-home Mom to a 2 year old little boy. My days were filled with “2 year old boy stuff”….play groups and trips to the zoo and museums. We spent many days building block towers on the floor, tumbling in the grass, and reading book after book after book!
On October 8, 2013, I entered the hospital for a routine hysterectomy. No one, including my surgeon, anticipated finding anything serious. However, when I awoke from surgery a few hours later, I was surrounded by a room full of crying family and they told me I had cancer. And it was only a small degree from being stage 4.
Due to the severity of the diagnosis, we had to move quickly on starting treatment. There was very little time to think, process, or ask “why”. Days spent on the floor building block towers were put on hold, as was my son’s development….as we would later discover.
We were frightened and overwhelmed with the emotions of the cancer diagnosis, alone, but when the financial burdens of the disease became clear, it was more than we could handle as a single income household. It was my counselor who told me about Cancer Care Services. She recommended that I reach out to Cancer Care Services and within days of that phone call, Tracey (my Social Worker) was sitting on my couch…playing with my son…while I talked, cried and filled out forms. By the next week, Tracey was back….sitting on my couch and playing with my son, but also explaining to me that Cancer Care Services was going to pay my health insurance premiums…they were going to pay for cancer related medications that I needed…they were going to pay for transportation. All of this PLUS free classes, counseling, support, and social activities. I discovered very quickly that Cancer Care Services had become part of my extended family… and, because of their support, I would literally move the Cancer Care Services building 3 inches to the left if they asked me to.
In May of 2014, my treatment ended and I joyfully became a volunteer for Cancer Care Services and was able to offer something back to this incredible organization. It was at this time, that we discovered some developmental delays with our son. So then we discovered a whole new way that Cancer Care Services could help…again for free….through the play therapy they provided to Max. I can happily say, that through these additional counseling services, my son has gone from practically being non-verbal, to answering the phones when we volunteer at Cancer Care Services! (Pause) Okay….not really, but many of my friends at Cancer Care Services DO ask me, from time to time, if Max is EVER QUIET! The answer to that?….no he really ISN’T… thank goodness!
Then one afternoon last October, as I was leaving from volunteering at Cancer Care Services, I received a message from my Oncologist. Rarely does your Oncologist call to tell you they liked the sweater you were wearing the previous day. It was through this phone call that I was told that my cancer had returned. In that moment, I felt all of the fear and anger I have felt with the first diagnosis, but this time….I knew I was not alone. I came back in the Cancer Care Service building with tears rolling down my cheeks and was embraced and cared for by my Cancer Care Services family as they, once again, started the ball rolling on services they were going to provide for me. Once again, my health insurance premiums were being paid, and my medications and transportation were also being paid.
My last radiation treatment was December 30, 2015. Through numerous scans since then, I am proud and happy to say that they continue to show “no evidence of disease”. IF the unthinkable happens, again….I know exactly where to go first….back to my family at Cancer Care Services.
Cancer Care Services has helped me reach my ultimate goal and allowed my son to continue to grow up with his mama by his side and not as a picture in a frame on the shelf.