As a society, our focal point is where it should be – on the person with cancer.
But, as so many cancer warriors know, cancer is not a one person fight. It takes a community.
As a community, we struggle to know how to help and what to say. We know we need to do better.
We WANT to do better.
At 27 years old, Cryshaunda was told her she had pancreatic cancer. As a new mother to a six-month old daughter, she immediately went into denial. After a few “second opinions,” reality set in and, with reality, came fear.
Fear that she would not make it.
Fear that she would not see her daughter grow up.
A month into her treatment, Cryshaunda became determined. Leveling with herself, she promised she would do all she could. This meant she would do all the things that she had done before cancer – the things that brought her joy and made her feel full of life.
She was a dancer, so she danced.
She loved volunteer work, so she continued to look for ways to give, ways to serve.
It may have been hard to see at the time, but Cryshaunda was on her way to being cancer-free.
Cryshaunda’s support network
We often overlook the role of “our people” – our people that love us, support us, comfort us, and care for us in hard times.
Our hard times can be their hardest times. The mental debate for our people can be agonizing. They search for the right things to say or do, not sure what is best, or how to help. They are scared, too, but censor their fears.
For Cryshaunda, her family had not come face-to-face with cancer before her diagnosis. There was no other experience to reference.
They knew the facts: Pancreatic cancer. 27 years old. New mother.
They were devastated.
There’s no fix for such emotions. Not even chemotherapy, surgery, or radiation can help the family members struggling to know how to help a cancer patient.
As Cryshaunda’s family realized, they fixed their eye on their faith and, with that, came hope and peace.
“Keep the faith. Look for God. Bet at peace and help your loved one be at peace,” Cryshaunda advises families who are facing cancer.
The Kay Yow Cancer Fund is changing the narrative on cancer. Cryshaunda is a pancreatic cancer survivor or, as we prefer to say, she’s a cancer warrior. Research is making a difference for Cryshaunda and the many other women who share in her experience of receiving a cancer diagnosis.
Perhaps our support systems, our people, are the bridge between where we start when diagnosed and where science can take us – they help us see our path out, our path beyond cancer.
One day science will prevail and cancer will no longer have power in our lives.
Until then, one cancer warrior’s advice to those who want to help: Be their peace.
This post was originally published as part of our Kay Yow Cancer Fund Survivor Stories on June 10, 2018.
If you’re a woman who has been diagnosed with any type of cancer, at any point in your life, we invite you to join our free Cancer Warrior Network – a private group filled with hope and inspiration just for women who have received a cancer diagnosis.