Stories of Hope: Day’s Story
I’ve been teaching for over 30 years and love what I do. I love the energy from students, the challenges teens bring, and the resilience they have when faced with challenges. Their examples actually helped me through a challenge that came my way in 2014 – my diagnosis of cancer.
The words “you’ve got cancer” are not words anyone wants to hear. From the initial disbelief to the tests to the plan of treatment to the resulting effects of surgery, chemo, radiation…cancer wants to strip you of everything you are and have.
From the obvious (does my insurance cover this); to the scary (will I survive); from the practical (how will I continue to pay my bills); to the emotional (am I going to lose my hair?); to the past (my mother didn’t survive this disease); to the future (I have so many things I still want to do)… each part of the cancer journey taught me about my own strengths and weaknesses, and taught me the importance of examples that have been set for me.
I had the example of my mother, who never complained publicly even when she was in pain. I had the example of my dad, who dropped everything to be with her throughout her journey. I had the example of friends who made phone calls, sent cards, and more. I had the example of doctors who were there night and day. I had the example of people who were there behind the curtains just in case.
And I had my students. I had students who gave me grace when I was trying to work 3 days after chemo. I had students who told me my head looked GOOD bald (I still prefer the shaved look, actually!) I had students who shared their stories of family cancer experiences and let me know they cared. I had teenage boys who sent me teenage boy jokes on chemo day that made me laugh (yes, laugh. They WERE naughty, but you can’t help but laugh).
And then there are the organizations that are there to support you such as Cuisine for Healing, the Texas Oncology network, and Cancer Care Services. Cancer Care Services has been a lifeline for friends going through this, for programs for youth, and for ongoing assistance for those who struggle. I have participated in National Cancer Survivors Day – a huge party designed to get people’s minds off the reality of cancer and on the reality of LIVING.
It was someone at Cancer Care Services who explained to me that one-day past diagnosis, I was and am a survivor. The journey ahead wasn’t going to be pleasant (she explained) but it didn’t matter; I was a survivor. I know that I can pick up the phone today and ask for help, and they will be there in whatever way they can. Cancer Care Services helps you deal with cancer, they offer care, and they provide or locate services for all who ask.
If you look at the Cancer Care Services calendar, there is everything; faith activities, massages, survivor resources, kid and youth resources, cooking, movies; camps for children and youth, you name it; there is support.
A final thought. While I was walking the halls after radiation (day after day after day after day) I had the opportunity to be blessed by artwork created by students from a local school. This year I had an opportunity to support that aspect of the Cancer Care Services’ program by bidding on and winning two pieces of artwork that had personal and special meaning to me in my life journey.
Those pieces will grace my walls at school as a daily reminder of Cancer Care and the people who care. There is beauty even in cancer; I learned life is a bit more precious when you know you’ve got examples and support in place, and when you get up each day a survivor.