Finding Early Support
"My husband was at home when I got the news. Our children were racing in the door from school, and at the same time the radiologist on the phone was confirming to me that I had cancer. I hung up and felt swallowed in confusion. My kids were rifling through the cabinets looking for snacks, and my husband was looking at the terror on my face, knowing in his heart what had just been said on the phone without hearing a word. Our children were eight and ten, and we decided that they needed to know. I made appointments with their teachers and explained the circumstances. With four months left in the school year, I knew I would need their help and support. I felt like I was assembling a team to go to war; it was empowering to have people on my side. When it came to the kids, we took them through each step separately so as not to overwhelm themfirst surgery, then chemo, then radiation. Having information gave them the power to talk about the experience as we all went through it."
Cindy Fiedler; diagnosed in 1988 at age 40; registered nurse, mom; Massachusetts
"I never hid my diagnosis. I cannot stress enough the importance of being open. It is amazing how many people will be there for you. The support of others is one of the greatest healers around."
Dee Pobjoy; diagnosed in 1999 at age 41; sales clerk; Wisconsin
"At the time of my diagnosis, there were several other women in town who'd had breast cancer. One of them was a good friend and tennis partner of mine. She called and gave me a lot of support and advice. This helped me tremendously."
Polly Briggs; diagnosed in 1987 at age 41; secretary; Mississippi
"On the day of my diagnosis, I phoned a friend who had gone through breast cancer three years before. She was very busy with work, but she gave me the time I needed. She told me that until I determined what my treatment should be, I would feel that I was totally out of control, but that once the decision was made, it would feel like a ton of bricks had been lifted off my shoulders. She was correct. I will always remember her last words. I said that I appreciated her time and long pep talk, and she said, 'You know, this is therapy for me, too.'"
Caroline C. Hudnall; diagnosed in 1992 at age 55; retired legal tech in the Supreme Court of Alaska; Montana
"My surgeon told me I had breast cancer at 5 P.M. on a Monday and gave me until noon the next day to decide between mastectomy and lumpectomy. I knew what a mastectomy was, but I knew nothing about a lumpectomy. Frantic, I called two of my girlfriends, each of whom had a friend who'd had breast cancer. Both of these women called me that night. They offered no opinions but did give me the knowledge I needed to make the right decision for me. They were absolutely wonderful with their support before, during, and after the surgery. They also helped me understand the process of radiation. This is a scary experience, Without their help, it would have been much more stressful."
Rose Marie Clark; diagnosed in 1996 at age 50; retired; New York
"When I was first diagnosed, I e-mailed a few friends to let them know. One friend who was not on my initial list e-mailed me to say, 'We're your friends in the bad times as well as the good!' After that, I gave my two closest friends permission to pass on my e-mail to anyone they felt it would help. The list grew over the next six months from fourteen to over two hundred. Discovering that people truly care about me was wonderful."
Deb Haggerty; diagnosed in 1999 at age 51; professional speaker; Florida
"My feeling when I learned my diagnosis was, 'Why me? I have been a good person and had such a nasty marriage, and things are finally good in my world. Why now?' I was scared and cried in the parking lot. My boyfriend, Jerry, held me tightly and kept reassuring me that my cancer was curable. After surgery, the cards and phone calls were not to be believed. My bosses sent flowers and two huge live lobsters, which I loved!"
Copyright © 2001 by Barbara Delinksy Charitable Foundation for Breast Cancer Research.
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