Saturday, April 2, 2011

a guest blog from another cancer survivor

Wendy joins us as a guest blogger with this article.  Wendy resides in South Carolina with her husband and two children.  She works full-time.    As a result of her thyroid cancer experience has most recently started the Myrtle Beach Thyca Support Group.  In addition, she and I are in the process of starting The Thyroid Necklace project to help provide support and information to other thyroid cancer survivors.

A brief description of her thyroid cancer is quite a journey.   She scheduled a doctor appointment after experiencing difficulty sleeping to discuss options for a routine goiter removal.  In February 2010, she was diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer and in March 2010 she had a 6 cm carcinoma removed during a near total thyroidectomy.  Recovery from her surgery included RAI in July 2010.  Difficulty with her voice led to further tests in the fall and in November 2010, she underwent a right neck dissection removing 11 lymph nodes, 2 of which were confirmed papillary cancer.

Top 12 things you can do for someone with cancer:
  1. Offer encouragement. Don’t just dwell on the bad news of my diagnosis. But don’t ignore that what I am fighting is scary and life changing. Just being there to listen, visit or hug can be worth a lot.

  1. Pray for me. I can use all the help I can get to fight this disease.

  1. Offer laughter. Laughter is an awesome message. While I am fighting a sickness I still find things funny. It’s okay to laugh and many times it’s very needed. So share your jokes with me.

  1. Call or visit me. While this is a time that I value friendship and relationships, going out can be a challenge some days. Call to make sure that I’m up for a visitor and then drop by. Just chatting or watching a favorite movie together can be so rewarding for me. Take the initiative to contact me first. When you struggle with fighting this disease, you don’t want to burden others anymore than you already are, so I’m less likely to call and ask you to come over. Please be understanding if it’s a day I need rest and know it’s not personal.

  1. Offer support to my family. Our lives have changed and it wasn’t by choice. My children still want to be able to participate in normal activities. So if you could drive them to birthday parties, ball or band practice or to the mall to shop around the holidays, it would be most appreciated. They deserve some normalcy in their lives. I’m not asking for a babysitter, just a helping hand so my child can participate in their normal activities while his/her parent is fighting cancer.

  1. Bringing over a meal can be such a relief. While I am seeking treatment or feeling sick, just a hamburger helper meal for my family can be a huge relief for me.

  1. Drop a note in the mail to let me know you are thinking of me. When you are fighting cancer, it’s easy to get discouraged. That cheerful note in the mailbox may be just what I need on the day that receive the phone call from the doctor wanting more tests.

  1. Offer to drive me to doctor’s appointments. There will be times along my treatment process that just the act of getting in the car and driving to an appointment is a monumental task. While family members may be willing to go with me, they may have limited time off from work. If you are free, it could be a huge assistance to drive me to a doctor’s appointment and give me some much needed time with a dear friend.

  1. Run errands for me. Nothing is more exhausting than trying to go place to place for errands. So if you’re out anyway, you could help by picking up the dry cleaning or a few items from the grocery store or Wal-mart. Maybe you could pick me up a few books to read from the library and drop then off for me to read while I’m sitting at my doctor’s appointments.

  1. Any routine tasks you are willing to assist with would be a tremendous help. Sometimes just rolling the trash to the curb, vacuuming, or sweeping the floor can really help us out. Don’t think anything is too small.

  1. Help me to feel as normal as I can during this time. If I’m worried about a huge scar on my neck, help me find a nice chunky necklace to distract from it. If I’m having treatments and losing my hair, offer to help me find nice earrings so I can still feel feminine. If I’m fighting skin cancer, be willing to wear a big straw hat when we go out so I don’t stand out and feel different.

  1. Realize that you are important to me. Take care of yourself. Be sure to do your neck checks, mammograms and pap smears, prostrate checks so in the event cancer does decide to enter your life, you can detect it early. Help promote awareness.
 thank you wendy for some great ideas! since my children are grown, i especially appreciated hearing about what others could do to help younger children cope with all that we are going through. i hope that other cancer patients can maybe print this out and offer it to others who are concerned, but really do not know what to do to help. 


  1. wow! Thanks for sharing those great ideas for helping families of cancer patients. Very well put, and a good idea to keep on hand, like you suggested.
    Was sorry to hear of Wendy's ongoing struggle, are they giving her chemo this time?
    Thanks for keeping us up on things, it's easy to just put it all behind you and forget.
    Just thought of you, my hubby & I are getting all dressed up to go to a "Fur Ball" tonight. It's a fundraiser for our local animal shelter & a great reason to dress up and dance (precious few chances for that in our small town). Anyway, I saw lint on his suit & thanks to you, actually remembered my "Mr Sticky" in the closet that helped perk him up! Can't wait to dance. Hope your Zumba video zoomed in on YOU!!! Blessings to you!

  2. thanks bobette! hope you had fun and glad you found a reason to use your mr. sticky. lol

  3. Wendy and I met years ago on the internet, we scheduled a camping trip with our families and have grown close over the years. She is a tower of strength, love, encouragement, and a true inspirtaion to me every day. I know she suffers with what her future holds for her and her family, but at the same time is out there having jewelry parties, supporting her children in all their dreams and a constant in her dad's life and at the same time a true friend to all that know her. I have been blessed to have her as a friend and I send prayers to her and all that are suffering for whatever reason. God Bless!
    Cheryl, Ohio

  4. Wow, that is good advice. I would never ask anyone for help either, but looking back, it would have certainly been appreciated. My kids were grown as well when I had my surgery, so what to do with small kids didn't enter my mind either.