I am a two time cancer survivor who has also been a caregiver to loved ones who passed from the disease.
My mother was diagnosed with small cell lung cancer in 2002. She died 13 days later at the age of 63. She smoked all her life and knew the risks, but such is the nature of addiction.
My brother, Jeff, was diagnosed in May of 2015 with stage 4 gastric cancer which had metastasized into his surrounding organs. His doctors administered his last chemotherapy in August of that year. He died a month later at age 49.
It was my brother’s struggle that changed my perspective about the disease. During the 4 months that he fought I witnessed the profound changes he underwent as well as the life changing challenges his wife and her 3 children experienced. While I came and went during the course of his disease from my home state to his, his family were with him 24/7 and experienced the joy which sprang from hopeful early doctor visits to the devastating sorrow of his final days.
Jeff’s death left us all searching for a way forward. I deeply felt that service to those who are still battling the disease would be mine. I volunteered as a Road to Recovery driver upon returning home, offering empathy – and a ride – to cancer patients undergoing treatment. In addition, my daughter and I formed a Relay for Life team representing her school.
In making my small contribution to the ACS mission as a volunteer, and now as Hope Lodge Hawaii manager, I know that even though I’ve lost my loved ones I am still working toward a world free from the pain and suffering of cancer.
I invite anyone willing to spend even an hour volunteering at Hope Lodge Hawaii to contact 1-800-227-2345 or cancer.org. Your time and effort will make a big difference in the lives of cancer patients and their loved ones.