Something Good From Something Bad – Surviving Small Cell Cervical Cancer
You’ve heard people say that you should try to find something good in a bad experience. Sometimes that task is very hard to undertake; Most of the time it seems downright impossible. Then, ever so often, a light shines and we are lead right straight into that “something good”. Before you even realize what has happened, you are making the most of the cards you have been dealt. It may take a couple of second glances to see that this wonderful gift came from some horrible tragedy you have survived.
But once your eyes are opened, the world is at your feet once again. My survival of Neuroendocrine Small Cell of the Uterine Cervix, is a miracle in itself, as it is so rare and aggressive and has a poor prognosis. But the gift I have been given since my diagnosis, to put my talents to use, is the greatest and most wonderful thing that could have ever come from this negative experience.
In my last article titled “My Survival of Small Cell Cervical Cancer”, I touched on a few things that had started to happen since my diagnosis and subsequent recovery and remission. I am actually cancer free from a terrible disease that more often than not, takes its victims to its grave. Just being cancer free is a great thing that came from surviving SCCC, but what has come to pass over the last 6 months of my life is even greater.
I started to feel more like myself in May of 2008; More than a year after the end of my treatment. But I hadn’t worked in some time, the kids were older and made much more self sufficient not only by age but by the circumstances of their lives. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I had no idea what direction to take. But I did know that God did not spare me for “no” reason. Yes, I do believe I was spared….blessed if you will. Don’t get me wrong; I did the work….but never alone. Even though I knew something was expected of me, I had no idea what. I still felt alone and isolated by the rarity of the disease and because I had no one to connect with, I felt no one in my inner circle really understood how much I was struggling with this idea. I think at that time I fell into a depression of sorts. I just did nothing. I felt better from treatment, but I was dealing with a myriad of other issue. I had infections in my body that wouldn’t go away. Every time I left the house, I picked up some kind of bug and spent days with my head in the toilet. I was weak and fatigued and my mental state of confusion and memory loss only added to the deepening fear that I would not accomplish anything before this cancer came back and struck me down. I wasn’t really looking forward. I was stuck in one place again.
One day I opened my email and there was a messagel from a person I did not know. She had found me on a cancer message board. She also had SCCC and was surviving cancer free for more than a year. That brought me to my feet in an instant. There was another surviving like me with no recurrence. I couldn’t believe it and I was intrigued. I answered her back. We clicked immediately. Although we had very different life styles, we were very much alike in personality. Sometimes I would read over her emails at night and weep. I would weep for the fact that I wasn’t alone in this. I had always had my family and friends and was truly never alone, but she was different. She was connected to me in a way no one else ever could be. Her name is Melanie Cummings (Mel) and I knew she would be in my life forever. Quickly we both realized that we had been brought together for a bigger purpose, so we started brain storming.
There were a few web sites on the internet that offered the ability to join message boards or find a pen pal that you could correspond with that was battling the same cancer or situation as you. But all of them required registration of your personal info and some required waiting periods. The message boards did not allow the exchange of personal emails so it made it hard for others to connect on an intimate level. Although we realized that these sites had put these safety measures in place to protect their users from fraud, we also believed that people in our circumstances were looking for immediate responses to their ever important and growing need for answers and support. We thought that possibly not as many people were utilizing or getting the satisfaction from these web sites they sought because of the wait or lack of intimacy; As fighting cancer is very intimate. So we decided to design a site for just that purpose. We streamlined the process by only requiring a first name, description of their situation, and what they were looking for in terms of support or information. We would match these people to others that wrote in and were in our data base. We did not require any personal information and felt we were offering the response time that people in our situation sought. We built the web site and called it “Cancer Comrades” cancercomrades.com.
Since its inception we have received emails from people in the United States as well as Canada and the UK. We have read stories of survival of many types of cancer and have heard from the friends and relatives of those diagnosed expressing their worry and sadness and need for support and information. The web site has taken on a whole life of its own and introduced us to many people we have been able to help. The other day I was ecstatic to find an email waiting for us from a woman in New York who had just finished treatment for SCCC and was cancer free as well. That now makes three!!!! Before this web site I had been alone and now I had 2 wonderful women with a common bond. Not someone to sit around with and wallow in our diagnosis, but “Comrades in Arms” to be at our side and fight, come what may. It has also given SCCC and Cervical Cancers of all types a voice and a place to be heard.
As I read back through this article I just wrote, I see that many good things came from this one bad thing, and I am truly blessed. I always say “I plan to be a positive force while still on this earth”. I believe I am on my way. I have found my purpose beyond the obvious of being a good mother, loving wife and decent person. I am doing what I was given the talent to do. Use my voice, my words and my art to help heal. Medicine is one way, but comfort, support and encouragement is another way to heal.
Mel and I intend to keep this going strong. We intend to take our message out into the public and we are also getting involved in fundraising to find a cure for SCCC and all Cervical Cancers. There are no limits to our abilities and there is always strength in numbers. But remember, no matter what tragedy has struck you…no matter how low life can take you….there is always something good in something bad. Thank you for reading.