Saturday, June 09, 2007

Relay for Life...

Last Sunday my family and I went to the Cancer Survivor Celebration @ Garfield Park here in Indianapolis (here is a link from the newspaper about that day ), then last night I went to Relay for Life at Pike Township Middle School. Last year when I attended both of these events, I had attended them with my mother in law. Who would have known then; that one year later she would not be here with us any longer taken by cancer at the age of 52? I’ve been thinking about Judy a lot lately, especially in these past two weeks, and I miss her more than I could ever say. She was the one person that I could talk to about things that I was going through with my cancer treatment/post cancer treatment. She was the only person that I knew intimately enough to open up to about things that were happening to me, because she had a shared experience with her own cancer. And now she’s gone. I lit a luminary in her memory last night and went back this morning to take a picture of it; an overwhelming sadness came over me as I cried during my walk around the track. Cancer doesn’t just ravage peoples' bodies, minds and spirits; it robs you of something so much more precious… Time. Time to be able to tell your loved ones how much they mean to you. Time to just sit in the backyard talking with each other. Time to go on yearly trips out of state to visit family for the 4th of July. Time to spend the night at Grandma’s house. Time that you wish you would have taken to go on a cruise when asked (who knew it would be her one and only). Time to love one another unconditionally.

I’ve had a lot of things tugging at my heart lately; it really saddens me that there are not more things out there for cancer patients, survivors, and care givers. When patients are admitted to the hospital for treatment after being diagnosed for the first week you don’t even understand what they are saying to you, and you don’t know how to navigate your way through insurance companies, medical bills, treatment options, the list is just so endless. There should be a group that has no ties to the insurance companies/hospitals that could come around and visit with cancer patients and openly share what their experiences were, and how to deal with everything, and what to look for when you go home so that you know if and when you need to come back to the hospital. Many things that were dangerous to me I wasn’t even aware of until after my treatment, and I researched it myself. Example: I was told by the doctors or nurses to wear a mask over my face when there were a lot of people around (of course I didn’t, because it was an inconvenience), but late one night I was watching a segment for St Jude’s Children’s Hospital and I saw a small child with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (the same type that I had) and she got an infection in her lungs, the doctor’s had to go in and remove 60% of her lung because it had a black fungus growing on her lung. Um… I wasn’t told that that sort of thing could happen or believe you me I would have been wearing the face mask. Things like that just need to be put out there for new cancer patients, it is such a scary time, and being able to meet other people who have been there and are still going strong would be such a help and inspiration to someone facing the biggest fight of their life. My husband could have really used some guidance when his wife and mother were both fighting cancer, and yet he still had to go on business as usual, because bills had to be paid and children had to be taken care of.

So if you would please log onto Relay for Life and donate in memory of someone that you’ve lost to cancer, or in memory of my mother in law Judy C. Kolanowski.

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