Joyce E. Byrd
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The skill of writing is to create a context in which other people can think.
- Edwin Schlossberg


Coping with the Big “C”

By Joyce E. Byrd

THE PAST FEW months have been rather hectic for my family. After a few days of unusually ill health in July, my mother reluctantly agreed to visit an emergency room for help. Four long hospital days later, Mom was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma – cancer of the lymph nodes.

Cancer. Other than astrology (born in June, Mom’s zodiac sign is cancer), neither Mom nor I comprehended the real significance of the word. Now, Mom found herself facing costly hospitalization and drug therapy to battle the same life-threatening illness that Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, despite her vast resources, could not conquer.

We since have learned that 90% of patients diagnosed with and treated for malignant lymphoma continue to lead relatively healthy lives five years after initial diagnosis. Preliminary testing indicates Mom’s lymphoma has not spread to any vital organs making treatment and the short- and long-term prognosis very promising.

Still a diagnosis of cancer is devastating. Mom and I boarded a seemingly endless roller coaster ride of fear, despair, grief, and anger. The doctors, hospital staff, and American Cancer Society have been unbelievable helpful and patient in providing support, answering questions, and teaching us to channel our frustration into an aggressive attack on the disease.

In addition to funding research, the American Cancer Society provides a host of patient services including patient support groups, a question and answer hotline, transportation to and from radiation therapy, and loaner medical equipment (such as walkers). They also sponsor an invaluable program that enables current patients to commiserate and bond with cancer survivors. Mostly, it provides a network of compassion, understanding, and strength when the world all around appears to be a morass of quicksand.

I hope that you never have to hear the word “cancer” associated with a loved one, but I strongly encourage you to give generously to the American Cancer Society for those of us who do.

Copyright © 1995, Joyce E. Byrd
Copyright © 2000-2007, Joyce E. Byrd.  All rights reserved.