At the Cancer Support Community, we believe that we can encourage and inspire each other through sharing our stories.
Still thriving after 23 years
I was given the big C sentence in 1984 and here I am still thriving. Since illness is supposed to be the night side of life, CSC has kept me awake for 23 years and the treatment goes on. CSC saved my life and made it bearable. I will be forever grateful. It allowed me to meet the only people I can really discuss my disease with, my fellow cancer survivors, who I meet with every Thursday evening at CSC.
There is life after cancer and it can be great
For the first time in my life, I’m proud to be among a group of people referred to as NERDS – No Evidence of Recurring Disease, in my Life After Cancer Group. This is my second bout of cancer, and the Cancer Support Community is like a second family to me, now. I am a newcomers’ meeting leader and I’ve been a CSC spokesperson for the Tour of California, and the Strike Out Cancer campaign. I will give back as much as humanly possible – CSC means that much to me.
Oncology nurse and veteran fundraiser celebrates eleven years of being cancer free
In March 2012 I celebrated my eleven-year anniversary of being breast cancer free! It is especially meaningful because I work for Kaiser Walnut Creek Clinic as an Oncology Nurse. Initially, I felt an obligation to participate in every cancer-related fundraiser, to make a difference. After years of raising funds for cancer organizations, I became curious about where and how these funds were being used. My research revealed the monies were not always being spent as I thought they should have been.
I shifted my focus to local organizations where I could use a “hands on” approach to help and raise funds. I am very proud to be affiliated with the Cancer Support Community. I love sharing the knowledge I’ve gained from this vital organization, recognized as the premier provider of psychosocial support services. The Cancer Support Community is a truly outstanding and cost-efficient organization offering a beacon of hope in our diligent fight against this dreaded disease.
A prostate cancer survivor copes with the death of his wife
Stu Klitsner, a prostate cancer survivor, started coming to the Cancer Support Community shortly after his wife, Rhoda, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 1997. “We came the first time because a doctor was speaking about multiple myeloma,” Stu says. “We wanted to learn as much as we could about prognosis and treatments. We kept coming back for the support groups. We went every week. It gave us a focus and they gave us total support.”
His wife joined a support group for cancer patients and Stu joined one for caregivers. “We learned what sort of questions to ask the doctor, and what treatments to explore with our medical team,” Stu says.
When his wife died, Stu kept coming to the Cancer Support Community. He explained that he didn’t feel so alone. “You could explore your feelings – shared heartbreaks and hopes – together,” he says. “I got close to a lot of wonderful people I wouldn’t have known otherwise. Later, when I was diagnosed with cancer, I felt I was already part of a true community of helpful people.”
Making friends with the ‘new normal’
"The experience of having cancer changes your perspective" explained Ali Desiderio, a five-year lung cancer survivor and longtime Cancer Support Community volunteer. "All the stuff that might have upset you before just rolls off your back now. There comes a point (after cancer) where you resume your life, but it's not quite the same. Just below the surface, it is always there — when you go in for CT or PET scans — the anxiety about what they might find. It takes you right back to that first diagnosis."
Ali said that "normal is not quite the normal it was before." It's what her facilitator, Sue Rose, called the "new normal". Surviving is also about appreciating and enjoying life. She added, "If emotionally you cannot continue to go on, then the cancer has won. With the Cancer Support Community, once you become involved, it mushrooms. I felt a sense of connection and received lots of caring, concern and valuable information from my support groups. Members of my original group have stayed in touch over the years. Along the way, I realized that if I am surviving, then I want to help someone else. I wanted my life to have meaning. As a volunteer, I have found that meaning."