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Meet Jean

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As we make our way into the colder months of the year, it's time to grab a warm drink and meet another community member. This month we are pleased to introduce you to Jean- better known on our community as pokie. Here's a bit more about Jean, who answered our December Meet your Neighbour questionnaire. 


Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself, and your cancer experience 

I am 59, and up until September a healthy person, in fact my May physical was great. 

I have had colitis for over 30 years, and went in for a colonoscopy due to having a small flare up. No worries at all, just thought  I may get a prescription to calm the symptoms. It was during the procedure the tumor was found, and they could not complete the test. It appears I have anal cancer and the tumor has extended into the rectal area with some lymph nodes involvement. Needless to say, the diagnosis was a shock. I was immediately sent to a Surgeon, who advised that surgery is not done unless radiation and chemo do not work. You hear of other types cancers and the options they may have. One way only for me to start!
 

Reeling from the diagnosis, trying to comprehend it was difficult. I was very emotional and could hardly tell people without breaking down. My Doctors, sent me for chest xrays, PETSCAN, CT scan and blood tests within a 6 day period. I had to wait another 5 days to see the Oncologists. The waiting is the hardest as your mind goes in so many different directions and scenarios. My radiation Dr told me the tumor was the size of a fist and they are also concerned about blockage given the location and he went over the radiation plan. Scared does not describe my feelings. I then met with the Chemo Dr to go over the plan for chemo. A port was installed as it was decided I needed to wear a portable chemo pump to deliver chemo for 96 hrs straight the first week and again the 5th week. Radiation would be at the same time and I would have 30 rounds. Now I just think of the radiation as blowing up that tumor! Still in the early part of treatments, so side affects from radiation as starting slow. The chemo was rough, sleeping with that pump was not comfortable, but I continue to focus on a positive end result!

Can I just say I would rather my journey was a trip to Hawaii ! 

 
Q: Since your diagnosis, where have you found the most support, the most comfort?

I have found the most support from most family members, friends, and volunteers who worked at my office as well as my colleagues. Even the lady who I had taken my dogs for training, has offered to help. She has become a dear friend. When I look back I realize my two dogs had been hanging more close to me a couple of months prior to the diagnosis. Then there at the people you think would be there but they aren't. I think maybe by staying away is their way to cope. I am not upset with those who can't, as I need to focus my energy on healing and I am lucky to have support from others.
 


Q: Did you get any words of wisdom that have inspired you, that are helping you through your cancer journey?

There are the usual words, stay positive, stay strong. Which at the very beginning when you are first diagnosed is hard to do. People don't understand, you are trying to digest the news and are in a state of shock. It seems they feel you need that strong state right at the start. But you need to cry and go through all the emotions you are feeling, to be able to become strong.  

I found that I once I started treatment it was becoming a bit easier to be positive and strong. Starting treatments gave me the feeling of being somewhat in control.  

A friend sent me a quote. "One day, in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful." 

Another stated,  You are loved as you have loved and given to us, we can now love and give to you.

A friend who survived cancer told me she had her support people to go to treatments with. Then she had her "FUN" support people who would laugh and play and not discuss the cancer. That way cancer was not the center of their time together.

 
Q: What is one thing you want everyone to know about having cancer?

While it is a struggle, feel free to cry, rant, laugh, and love.  You will go through the grieving process, shock, denial, guilt, sadness etc. but you will come out the other side with laughter and love. And this may repeat itself that is okay.

Remember to try not to get caught in a whirlpool of depression and what ifs. Reach out to all the resources the Cancer Centre offers like the counselors, dietitians, support groups etc. I did and will continue to do so as I need them
 

Q: As the holidays approach, how do you plan to maintain your holiday cheer or cope during the holidays? 

 I want it to be a great holiday season, with the focus on everyone else and the season not on the cancer. The cancer needs to be put in the backseat as I want to focus on life and happiness.
I plan on having a live Christmas tree, baking (or having someone help with the baking), decorating. Enjoying life. Although, I will give myself permission to have a cry if I need to!
 
 


Q: How has CancerConnection.ca helped you through your cancer experience?

I am grateful for CancerConnection. I was able to see how others are coping and feeling.  I didn't feel alone.  It is a great resource and really helped during the waiting period of appointments and not understanding my cancer. I have also been matched with an awesome peer support person. She is a shining light for me, as she had similar cancer and is a long time survivor. It helps to talk to others via the site, I feel safe to sharing and not be judged !
 

Q: If you found a genie bottle and could make three wishes, what would you wish for? 

1) That all cancer would be cured and eradicated! 
2) That everyone has someone to support and love them regardless of their life struggle.
3) Health and happiness for all 







We'd like to thank Jean for sharing some of her experience with us, and for answering our questionnaire. If you are interested in being featured in one of our monthly Meet your Neighbour posts, please send a private message to Nicole_admin, or email us at cancerconnection@cancer.ca. 




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