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Cancer Support System

By Nikki Stone
Sports Motivation
Updated: June 30, 2008
Three years ago my mother found out she had breast cancer. Two years later, my father found out he had prostate cancer. I've always considered myself a very healthy specimen. I was even rewarded an Olympic medal to prove it! And now I found that my family's gene pool was no better off than a family who sat around on the couch all day and ate bonbons.

As nearly everyone whose family is hit by cancer does, I read the statistics. The scary, harrowing, horrendous statistics! That little number that determined my parents' odds of surviving. That number that would shape my level of hope. But despite this number, I somehow knew that my parents could recover and defeat the odds. If nothing else, the rest of our family would will them to defeat the odds. Little did I know, our supportive influence would have a much greater impact than I thought.

For my mom, the recovery process started with surgery and then we'd determine the prognosis from there. The hope was that the cancer had not spread from her breast into her lymph nodes. My father and I were there when my mother woke up from surgery to tell her the news that she was hoping not to hear. It had spread to her lymph nodes – which meant tacking chemo and radiation onto the recovery process.

When my mom arrived home, she was swarmed with an abundance of calls. The family and friends network had set in. Everyone was ready to jump to action and do whatever was necessary. If she was going through this, we were all going to go through this. And my mom's biggest support was the man who had pushed a diamond on her ring finger 30-some-odd years before. He went to every single one of her 10 chemo-trips over the next several months.
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Living on the other side of the country, and having grad school and professional speaking commitments, I couldn't go to all her chemotherapy treatments, but I did have the opportunity to travel back east and join her at two sessions. I walked into the open hospital room where 15-20 cancer patients were receiving chemo treatments. Several of the patients were surrounded by at least one or two family members or friends. Those patients were being distracted by the comfort of their spouses, smiles of their grandchildren, or cards from their friends. But there were a few patients that were there alone. Somehow the strains of the treatment looked much harder for these individuals.

Suddenly it hit me that those statistics that I read about included EVERYONE! It not only included my mom, but it included the individuals who had no family. It included the individuals who had lost hope because there was no one keeping a check on their emotional spirits. It included those individuals without a support system. We were all going to do our part to throw the odds back in my mom's favor. And I know that support made a difference in her ultimate recovery. My mom is now 3 years in remission and we're all lending our support to make sure she stays in remission.

Two years after my mother's diagnosis, my father found out he had prostate cancer. And my mother and I were there when they rolled him out of the hospital room for surgery and, again, when they rolled him back in. We were there as his moral support to conquer that awful disease. Again, no family member was going to go through this alone.

Now, I'm not naïve enough to believe that a bunch of cards and hand-holding will put an end to an awful disease. But I do know that the positive support does play a factor in the healing process and it certainly has the potential to increase someone's odds. And when you are playing with someone's life, I think we all want to have the extra potential on our side.

So when the books list the statistical odds that my family will survive, I know they don't have it exactly right. No matter if its cancer, jobs, sports, or even child rearing, we are always going to work together to swing the odds in our favor. Wouldn't you?
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