When someone tells you that you have cancer, you suddenly find yourself all alone.
You’re lost in the loneliest place you have ever been.
People speak, but you really don’t hear the words. But you do hear “you have cancer” over and over. And so you begin a journey no one ever prepared you for.
One of the most important steps on my journey was meeting the staff at the Conemaugh Cancer Center – especially the first nurse who managed my treatment. I’ll call her Miss M. I often say that after five minutes with her, I felt like I had known her all my life.
She was exactly what I needed – warm, engaging, and most of all, incredibly supportive. I really don’t believe I would have made it through that treatment without Miss M.
When the cancer returned, I ran into Miss M on the morning I met with my oncologist to lay out a treatment plan. When our eyes locked, she knew instantly why I was there. But she smiled and, more importantly, hugged me.
I saw Miss M on the morning of my most recent treatment. When our eyes locked, I knew instantly that Miss M needed a smile and a hug.
The green turban on her head meant my wonderful, caring, supportive friend was one of us. A cancer victim.
How could that be? This was not supposed to happen to her. But cancer does not care who you are or what you do. It does not discriminate.
Once the initial shock wore off, Miss M talked with Joyce and I. She has breast cancer. It was only discovered because she listened carefully to her body.
Even after a couple of diagnostic tests appeared to show nothing out of the ordinary, Miss M knew better. She knew her body was telling her something was wrong. A further test confirmed that there, indeed, was cancer in her breast.
And so Miss M now walks the walk all of us with cancer walk. She has had surgery, and continues treatments. The doctors are optimistic she will beat it.
I don’t need a medical degree to know that. All I needed was to see that smile and feel those wonderful arms around me.
Miss M, know that I will walk with you as you have walked with me.
Together we will send cancer a very clear message.