It’s a Team Fight January 9, 2017 Candace Connell It’s a Team Fight Categories: Stories & Memories It’s hard to believe it’s been over a decade ago that I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was in my early 40s at the time and my husband and I were in the middle of living a full and busy life. Our family life was centered around our four children who at the time ranged in age from 9 to 17 years’ old. And then, right in the middle of our normal life, I heard words that were life-changing… “I think you need to see a surgeon” “I’d like to get a better look at this. I’ll schedule an appointment for a test” “We need to do a biopsy” “The results of the test show abnormal cells” “The surgery will…” “It’s malignant” “Chemotherapy” “Radiation” “Anti-nausea medication” “Blood counts” “Tumor markers” Many people have heard these and similar words or have friends or family that have received this news. And life, as you know it, will never be the same. Even these many years later, I am still almost overwhelmingly grateful for the medical team that surrounded me and my family during this time in my life. And team is the right word – my family-practice physician, surgeon, medical oncologist and radiation oncologist all worked together to put together the best treatment plan for me. I received the best treatment from doctors that saw me as a person as well as patient – truly “world class treatment close to home”. Having the medical expertise and the state-of-the-art equipment close to home was critically important to me and my family. It helped my husband and me to keep life as normal as we could for our children and ourselves throughout treatment. The diagnosis of cancer is an eye-opening, life-affirming, forever life changing experience. There is no going back – life will always be divided into “before cancer” and “after cancer”. I really thought that a cancer diagnosis wouldn’t change my life much, that I was strong and that I would get through the surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation and then life would continue on pretty much as normal. Kind of like getting over a bad case of the flu or a virus – I’d feel lousy for a while, maybe stay in bed a few days and then it would be over and I would go on with life like before. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in November of 2002 and my life has never been the same. I have and continue to experience the blessings of seeing that the quality of my life is all important – not just the continuation of my breath and the health of my cells, but the other parts of living that make-up a life well-lived. Even though it’s been many years ago, I still carry a greater appreciation for just living each day. I know many people who have many more years of living with cancer, many have suffered from this terrible disease in ways that I have not, and many have lost their battle in their fight against cancer. The word survivor takes on a completely new meaning to someone touched by cancer – it is a wonderful word but touched with sadness and regret for those who lost their battle and left this world too soon. I am filled with gratitude for the gift to our community of the Delbert Day Cancer Institute. Because of a commitment of the PCRMC board and staff to their service region and the generosity of the Day family and hundreds of other donors, we now have a center of excellence in the work of fighting cancer to call our own. And many more patients will be able to receive the best cancer care from a team of professionals that truly care. GK Chesterton wrote “There are no words to express the abyss between isolation and having one ally. It may be conceded to the mathematician that four is twice two. But two is not twice one; two is two thousand times one.” Those of us who are walking and have walked down the path of cancer treatment understand in a greater way what these words really mean. The DDCI assures that cancer patients in our region of Missouri will have the medical team allies close to home in addition to their family and friends. Ecclesiates 4:9,10,12 reads: “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up the other; but woe to one who is alone and falls and does not have another to help. And though one might prevail against another, two will withstand one. A threefold cord is not quickly broken.” I am thankful for our medical community that is working together to fight cancer. I am also very thankful for all those who support and hold up those they love who are fighting this disease. How strong our cord must be as we all work together to help each other up.