Archive for the ‘Cancer Tales’ Category

CANCER TALES: From Caregiver to Patient

BY JOSEPH DARBY

I wasn’t supposed to be the cancer patient. You see, I was the caregiver of a cancer patient – the strong one, the support system. I spent 17 years with my wife, agonizing about her treatments as she suffered severe pain from multiple myeloma and the devastating treatments. Unfortunately, we lost her battle with the disease about five years ago, and shortly thereafter I was forced to face my own battle with cancer.

survivorOn Christmas Eve this past year, my doctor told me I had aggressive but contained prostate cancer. Not the Christmas gift I was hoping for. Shortly after my youngest daughter got married, I had my Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) levels tested. I had never really paid much attention to the results before because my doctor hadn’t seemed concerned. Well, now they were high and I was going to be forced to pay attention to them.

After dealing with the daily toll cancer took on my wife, it was hard for me to come to terms with my own diagnosis. In …

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CANCER TALES Life, including cancer, was a trip

Carol Meyer and her husband, Herb.

Carol Meyer of Roswell and her husband, Herb.

By Carol Meyer
“Life is a trip”. Literally. Unfortunately, it can be a trip with smooth sailing or one that has lots of bumps in the road.

This past year has been a literal “sinkhole” for us. No bumps, just swallowed up by huge problems. My husband Herb was diagnosed with head and neck cancer in October of 2007. It was just another workday for him. A real estate prospecting day for me and school for my son. It turned out to be a
life-changing day, week, and months going ahead.

By the time Herb was actually beginning his treatment in November, we were prepared for the worst. It wasn’t just his illness. Along with that, his employer chose to terminate him (probably because of health insurance).
Anyway, we had to forge on and we did. Chemo, radiation, lack of energy, lack of money, and lack of a normal life. But not a lack of fortitude, hope and optimism. He chose life and I was at his side for the big fight. So far, Herb is a …

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CANCER TALES Family, faith, friendships strengthened as wife battles breast cancer

Claire, Margie, John Mark and Chris LaSalle.

Claire, Margie, John Mark and Chris LaSalle.

By Chris LaSalle

On Sept. 15, 2007 my wife Margie called me into our bedroom. She was lying on our bed and looked scared. Our two young children, Claire and John Mark, were nearby.

She said, “Feel this.” I felt a lump in her breast and was surprised by its size. We were too young, too healthy, too busy for cancer.

After a whirlwind of doctors’ appointments our worst fears were confirmed: Margie was diagnosed with breast cancer. We agreed to the traditional treatment: surgery, chemo and radiation. We focused on getting through treatment and tried to keep our lives as consistent as possible to protect our children from undue fear.

Margie continued to teach at Georgia State University and to work on her dissertation during her treatment. We believed that once she got through treatment she would be healthy and we would resume our normal life. We found positive statistics to boost our confidence.

Radiation, the last phase of …

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CANCER TALES Colon cancer survivor seeks to inspire, educate others

U. Shaye Dunn poses with Capt. Colon. UDunn survived colon and lung cancer. She has started a cancer support group.

U. Shaye Dunn poses with Capt. Colon. UDunn survived colon and lung cancer. She has started a cancer support group.

By U. SHAYE DUNN

A nagging lower backache I’d been dealing with for weeks really got my attention on St. Patrick’s Day, 2004. Before getting in the shower, I sat on the toilet and knew I had a problem when blood began pouring out of my rectum.

I went immediately to my doctor. My blood pressure had dropped so low from the blood loss that she sent me directly to the emergency room. There I learned I needed to see a gastroenterologist as soon as possible. After a consultation with her, I was scheduled for a colonoscopy.

I was able to see the images as the procedure was taking place. When the doctor located the tumor I asked, “What is that? It looks like a bleeding brain! It was the cancerous tumor. I couldn’t believe it — 36 years old with colon cancer. I always thought it was an “old person’s disease.”

A few days after the colonoscopy, I had a colon …

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CANCER TALES Breast cancer was an ‘adventure’

Robbie Baker King shared her experience with sisters, co-workers, church members — anyone who would listen. The lump was sitting between her breasts near her rib, and it would have never been detected with mammograms

Robbie Baker King shared her experience with sisters, co-workers, church members — anyone who would listen. The lump was sitting between her breasts near her rib, and it would have never been detected with mammograms

By ROBBIE BAKER KING

I am a truly blessed seven-year breast cancer survivor.

I’m very glad to share my adventure with breast cancer. With the range of emotions that fill your entire body from the moment you feel the “lump,” adventure is the only true word that best expresses what I went through!

I’ve always had an athletic build. Nothing “extra” on my body, including the chest area! So, in the summer of 2000 when I was laying on my stomach, I felt something different near my left breast. It didn’t hurt, but I could feel it. A lump sitting right on one of my ribs. I had been performing self breast exams for five years, since my mother’s breast cancer diagnosis in 1995, and this area is not included in the circular path associated with the breast …

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CANCER TALES She “didn’t have time to say goodbye” to her father

Parents of Susan Weber

Parents of Susan Weber

By SUSAN WEBER

My dad had complained of a pain and swelling in his side for several months, and being the stubborn man he was, he refused to see a doctor. I think it was fear as much as stubborness that kept him from the doctor.

He kept telling me (his only child) that it was “just a pulled muscle and only needed some linament”. He hated doctors, and didn’t believe in them, especially after he lost my mom after 42 years of marriage because of what he called a “quack doctor”.

Finally, a friend of his convinced him that he should be checked out. We were not prepared for what was to follow. They did exploratory surgery, and found that cancer had taken over his abdominal cavity, spreading to various organs. Ten days later, he was gone!

I have always heard that once it “hits the oxygen in the air, it’s all over with.” Now I believe that. The family was in shock that he went downhill so fast.

I didn’t have time to say good-bye, or tell him …

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CANCER TALES Loss of brother, dad helped her understand loving, letting go

By RHONDA K. FANT

My dad (left) and his best friend Lamar

My dad (left) and his best friend Lamar

“There are no do-overs in life.”

Of the many words my brother Danny had spoken to me – these I remember the most. He had been diagnosed eight weeks earlier in July 2003 – and little did we know we would only have him for nine more weeks.

Once a strong, determined, active and funny brother – the cancer made him tired, angry, quiet and not so funny.

I had never been close to my brother who was eight years older than me – but we lived and talked a lifetime in those 17 weeks. We learned a lot from cancer. You can mend broken bridges, you can forgive and forget, but most of all you can truly love.

He forgave my father, Dan Sr., for years of arguments, anger and poor choices. It was something he had to do so that he could let go. As I watched my brother’s health decline – I realized that those years were gone forever.

Then on the day after what would have been my brother’s 49th birthday, on July 16, 2004 – my father …

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CANCER TALES Warrior dad battled tongue cancer to the end

By LISA BURKE JONES

Robert L. Burke and his nephew, Capt. Corey King of the Georgia National Guard before King’s deployment to Iraq in Spring 2005.

Robert L. Burke and his nephew, Capt. Corey King of the Georgia National Guard before King’s deployment to Iraq in Spring 2005.

There were not too many battles that my father, Robert L. Burke, could not win, but his last one, the one he fought the hardest, he lost.

Dad was the youngest of seven children. He was originally from Helena, Ark. He married my mother, Sara, a Georgia girl, and they had four children. They settled in Georgia after he retired from the Air Force.

Dad was the person in our family we could always turn to for help with anything. If he did not know how to do it, he figured it out. He once built a console color TV in our living room out of a kit he bought.

Dad was diagnosed with cancer of the tongue in June 2003. He had never smoked and was not a drinker. He was exposed to a lot of secondhand smoke during his days in the military when it was an accepted practice to smoke in the workplace.

Surgery was an option, but we were told it would …

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CANCER TALES Rhonda Abair: I miss my mother, grandmother

By RHONDA ABAIR

The author’s grandmother, Ida Felton

The author’s grandmother, Ida Felton

My faith has helped sustain me through the death of my dear grandmother and my mother to cancer.

My grandmother was diagnosed with lung cancer in late 1990. I adored her. She had raised me as her own because my mother gave birth to me at a very young age.

My grandmother was dirt poor, but she gave me everything that I needed. She taught me good manners and values and how to live without being extravagant and have everything that you need.

Her lung cancer was a shock to the family because she never smoked. She was a health fanatic. We had fresh veggies everyday.

When I was very young I used to pray and ask God to take me first because I knew that I couldn’t live without my grandmother. We buried her on July 1, 1991, two days before my birthday. Part of me went with her.

I have really been trying ever since to live right, obey God’s laws and treat people as I want to be treated.

My mother died from ovarian cancer in November …

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CANCER TALES Michelle Harding of Suwanee: Cancer is a weed

By Michelle Harding

Cancer is a weed. It suffocates and destroys what is good and pure and true. It takes a beautiful Sunday garden and tramples it with ugliness and despair.

It takes a beautiful Sunday family and rips away a father and a husband. The weed keeps growing. It makes its intentions clear. It does not back down. It does not change its mind.

It grows and develops and clings and pushes. It makes the happy face of a healthy man turn sour and distorted. The weed makes him angry and annoyed.

He won’t say “I love you” anymore. Where he used to give hugs and kisses, he now cracks crude jokes.

It is not his fault. It is all to blame on the weed, on the cancer, on the destruction. It grows. It does not stop. It grows all the way to the back of the brain until it is too late. The man dies.

When I was in eighth grade, life was perfect. When you are young, you feel invincible, untouchable. You pay no attention to what is going on outside of your world.

It is not …

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