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My View: Hope, faith essential when fighting cancer

By Joan Brewer

So here I am, sitting in a comfy chair, surrounded in a room full of others in comfy chairs. It’s a sunny, warm, beautiful day. Each person, old or young, male or female, black or white, has an IV pole with a bag of liquid and a tube dispensing chemicals into his or her body.

It is quiet. Only a few voices of nurses or soft music playing can be heard. Somehow it reminds me of the lines of a T.S. Eliot poem: “Let us go then, you and I, when the evening is spread out against the sky, like a patient etherized upon a table …”

Why this line pops into my head, I don’t know. Except being in this room with its comfy chairs and soft music playing in the background, I am suddenly and rudely brought to the reality of this place.

All of these people, including myself, have cancer in some form or other. All of us are hoping and praying for the nasty chemicals to kill the even nastier cancer cells within our bodies. So we sit and wait for the chemicals to drip into our veins.

Some of us read, some watch the little TV provided in each cubicle, some visit with those who accompanied them.

It would be interesting if we could read the patients’ minds in this room. It is probably a good bet that after the initial shock and disbelief of a cancer diagnosis, the thought was: “Why me?”

In my own case, the probable answer lies in my family DNA. My grandfather, one of the founders of the Village of Kenmore, my mother, a “Rosie the Riveter” at Bell Aircraft during World War II, and a brother, a Navy veteran, all died of various forms of cancer. So now perhaps those genes have me in their grasp.

But I keep reminding myself of all of the research that has been done and all of the newer treatments that are available since my relatives passed away, spanning the years from 1930 to the 1990s.

The chemicals that are administered have changed since then. A blood test is given now before each treatment. In order to stimulate one’s bone marrow to produce more blood cells, patients may wear a device on their skin that dispenses medication.

If dehydration is a problem, arrangements are made by Roswell Park Cancer Institute to provide IV fluids in the patient’s home.

It is often said that a positive attitude helps. Some days that’s difficult.

And it’s really hard to realize that there are so many people who need chemo treatments in this area of Western New York. This center in

Amherst, to my knowledge, is only one of three administered by Roswell Park.

How many thousands of families have had to come to grips with a dreaded diagnosis? Is there anyone reading this who hasn’t known someone with cancer or has had it himself or herself?

Since my diagnosis, it seems like every other person I have spoken with has ventured to say that he or she once had treatment for cancer. It’s amazing to me that there are so many.

Yet it must be pointed out that in speaking to so many, it’s apparent how many have survived. What wonderful news that is!

So the buzzwords for all of us, patients and families, are the simple words of hope and faith. We cannot give up the powerful attitude that hope and faith provide. It’s what keeps us going in difficult days and nights, along with the kindness and support of friends and relatives. We hope for a full recovery, and we have faith in the medical field and in God.

Joan Brewer, of Lockport, taught in Ken-Ton Schools for 33 years, then got a degree in veterinary technology and worked in that field for 10 years.
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