Survivors

For a list of survivor stories by cancer type, click the Type of Cancer and follow the link at the bottom of the page.

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The Fashionista Fights Again

by Jennifer Pellechio-Lukowiak

In April 2007, I was a 38-year-old working mom who had just received a shocking diagnosis of stage II breast cancer. After enduring a lumpectomy and 14 months of chemo, radiation, and adjuvant therapy, my inter­rupted life was finally getting back on track. As I reached my five-year survival mark, my doctors were starting to use the other C word: cured. But life is full of surprises, extreme highs, and extreme lows, and sometimes they all occur within the same week.

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Tips for Coping with Cancer from a 15-Year Survivor

by Jeannine Walston

In 1998 when I was diagnosed with a brain tumor at 24 years old, I knew nothing about cancer. Since then, with two awake brain surgeries and many other cancer therapies, my experiences have cultivated insights for optimal survivorship. Through my health and healing journey, I’ve garnered essential wisdom to thrive, and gained knowledge from extensive cancer-related professional work. My personal and professional work has even helped thousands of other cancer survivors along the way.

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Cancer

by Eva Grayzel

When I returned home from the hospital, my children, seven-year-old Jeremy and five-year-old Elena, could barely look at me. I understood. I could hardly look at myself, even though I kept my sutures covered with scarves and ban­dages. My children shied away from my touch. How could I blame them? I couldn’t bring myself to touch my own wounds.

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Journaling Cancer in Words and Images

by Harriet Claire Wadeson, PhD, LCSW, ATR-BC, HLM

Cancer imposed its own special kind of helplessness as I was cut open and parts were either removed or irradiated and blasted with chemicals that destroyed cells and interfered with my physiological func­tioning. People turn to a number of outlets under this kind of duress – religion, meditation, music. For me, I needed to do something. Writing and making art were my saviors in times of trouble or pain in the past, so it was only natural for me to turn to them to help me through cancer.

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Living with Incontinence after Prostate Surgery

by Rick Redner, MSW, with Brenda Redner, RN

The experience with urinary incontinence begins after a much-anticipated event – the day your catheter is removed. I was delighted to be free from my catheter. For a brief period, it was a happy day.My celebratory mood would last a few brief hours before I experienced an emotional nosedive. I was totally unprepared to deal with my loss of urinary control.

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Regaining Control

by Barbara Delinsky

Loss of control is a major issue for those with breast cancer. It starts early on, when a problem is first suspected, and suddenly we’re taken over by fear, not to mention mammog­raphy machines, localization needles, hospital release forms, and biopsies. Then a positive diagnosis comes, and we’re really hit for a loop. We’re swamped by new information, con­fused by choices, intimidated by sterile rooms. We worry enough to lose sleep; we’re hurting from surgery, weak from anesthesia, and stressed over family demands; and we are not looking for­ward to the treatment ahead. There’s this big C looming over us, pressing us under its weight, threatening to dominate our daily lives for the next however-long.

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The Legend of Big Billy

by Craig Harrison

It was late in the winter of 2010, and the nights were long and dark. I lay in bed motionless hour after hour, listening to the wall clock mock me with its relentless chiming that marked each passage of time – a haunting melody that became the subtle, audible reminder of yet another sleepless 60 minutes I would never get back.

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Thank You, Cancer

by Nicole Malato

Dear Cancer,

Truth be told, I would have never invited you into my home. Being the party crasher you are, you barged on in anyway. Admittedly, I was confused and distraught when you first made your presence known. You were frightening and devastating. As time went on and I learned you were not planning to go away, it took a lot of reflection to realize that even though you are with me, I can still live a great life.

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