April 2013 Diane Davies Bush Report
My friend Karen sat across from her doctor in May of 2012 and heard the words “you have pancreatic cancer!” Nine months later on March 14, 2013 she wrote this message on her CaringBridge Site;
“We Did It!!!! And I do mean “we”. I am CANCER FREE and it only happened with the support I have received from literally hundreds of friends. I did everything the doctors asked and tried my very best, because of you. It paid off “big time” and I am trying to comprehend this day. The doctor actually said, “This is fantastic!” Stay tuned and rejoice and be glad with me!!! Luv you all, Karen”
The “I did everything the doctors asked” included nine treatments of chemo where she lost all of her hair and spent a few days hospitalized, followed by surgery known as the Whipple Procedure in early October of 2012, another round of chemo, then six weeks of radiation with a fanny pack of chemo injected 24/7 and yet another nine chemo treatments which will end in May 2013. At the same time, Karen continued running her one-woman business, singing in the church choir, playing clarinet in the community band of which she is the founding mother, and enjoying her participation in living life with her three adult children, their significant others and one granddaughter Sophia. Through all of this, she rarely lost her smile and never wavered in her determination or in her belief that she could beat this cancer diagnosis.
How is this possible? Well I do have a couple of ideas.
Karen has a very deep and abiding faith. From the beginning of her journey, she relied of Psalm 46:10; Be still, and know that I am God. Experiencing her God and placing her trust in His love and strength gave her not only physical power but emotional resilience. The first verse of that same Psalm says; God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Karen puts her confidence in that help and finds comfort there.
Love of family is a high priority in Karen’s life. As a mother she has made every effort to be a positive role model for her family. In this cancer trial, she again chose that same path of open honest communication and love. Her family responded in kind supporting her with their strength and love.
Friendship is not taken lightly by Karen. She credits friends for being there for her in her time of need and once again giving her the strength to face the challenge. I know that it was of utmost importance to her to not let any of her friends down. Her determination to be successful in ridding her body of cancer came from this belief.
Willpower, resolve, fortitude, strength of mind all defines determination. Karen exemplifies determination in her positive attitude toward life especially in facing her cancer diagnosis. Yes, she had down times as anyone would in her situation but she was able to harness the resources at hand to help herself up and out. She found it easier to smile and forge ahead than to bemoan her lot in life and let the pity party continue.
Last weekend I took part in the River Falls, WI Relay for Life. Relay is a program of the American Cancer Society to raise money for cancer research. Participants raise dollars by asking sponsors to pay them for walking through the night. Cancer survivors are always honored in many different ways at these events. Most generally the first lap of the relay is for survivors only for this purpose. Applause, cheering, high fives, hugs and a few tears accompany the survivors on that lap. The organizers of this particular event gave each survivor a paper chain to carry with each loop of the chain representing a year of survivorship. I’ve been a survivor for nine years so my chain had nine loops. Eighty-seven survivors made that first lap in River Falls representing eight hundred and seventy eight years of survivorship when all of the chains were attached together. As I walked that lap, my mind kept returning to Karen and her amazing story even more amazing because of the type of cancer she had. My guess is that every one of the eighty-seven walkers making that lap would have to agree that faith, family, friends and a positive attitude played an important role in their own cancer story. I would even go so far as to say that those whose memory we honored, those who journey did not end in survivorship, would also tell us the importance of faith, family, friends and a positive attitude in their stories and their journeys as well.
As survivors, our last chapters have not been written yet. So as Karen invited us let us stay tuned and rejoice and be glad in today. Let us celebrate with her and the eighty-seven survivors from the Wisconsin relay. And let us always remember the importance of faith, family, friends and a positive attitude in whatever journeys we are called upon to travel.
Quick Update on my project: This is the new and updated logo for the Voices of Hope project.
We continue to work on the website pages which I’m so excited to show you soon. When up and running the site will be at www.voicesofhopebc.com . The next step will be the marketing package.
I’m also submitting a grant proposal to the Minnesota Lynx Foundation for dollars to help distribute the Voices of Hope Series to hospitals and breast clinics in the North West and North Central regions of Minnesota and to the Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis. The Red Lake Indian Hospital in Red Lake, MN has already sent us a request. Poverty and/or sparse population should not deprive breast cancer patients and their caregivers from the emotional support needed for the breast cancer journey. Getting these proven educational and reassuring DVDs into the hands of patients free of charge at their time of need is of utmost importance to equal healthcare opportunities throughout our state for those facing breast cancer. As with any grant opportunity, waiting for the results is always the hardest.
That’s about it for this month’s report. Looking forward to seeing you all at our upcoming Fellowship Seminar.