She had cared for her mother years ago when she was diagnosed with lung cancer. For two years, Diane raised her two children, worked a full-time job and cared for her mother.
“My mom was such a fighter. I remember thinking that if this ever happened to me, if I could just be a third of as strong as she was with half as much class, I could make her proud. I know she’s watching over me.”
Then, a little over a year ago, Diane was diagnosed with rectal cancer. After six weeks of treatment, she has since been cancer free for the past 11 months. “It was more devastating to hear about [my mom’s] diagnosis than of mine.” But this time, Diane was the patient. Thankfully, she had someone by her side.
“This was my first experience directly with cancer,” said her husband, Al. “It was quite a shock. But I knew that my wife was strong enough to fight this, and she did.”
Those who have not yet experienced the non-discriminating disease do not know how it feels to be the patient. For Diane, it was a very uneasy one.
“I don’t like to ask for help,” said Diane. “It was very hard to reach out… The radiation was uncomfortable because of its location, but it was more uncomfortable was having to depend on somebody to help me out. I don’t like asking people for favors. I never really did [reach out for help], I knew others knew about it. I figured my friends would have my back and would know to call or come by. But I think I assumed incorrectly. Maybe it was because they were uncomfortable with the situation, I don’t know.“
Asking for help is something that many people do not do. But it is something that is important regardless of the situation.
The same message came from Joyce F., a Mesquite resident who has been a Registered Nurse for over 40 years, with experience in end-term care giving.
“The person with the cancer, and rightfully so, gets all of the attention,“ she said. “But the person who is the number one caregiver, really needs attention as well. Not just for a break physically, but emotionally. The caregiver doesn’t get a lot of support. Especially when the patient is terminal, it’s hard to stay upbeat about things.” Joyce went through this situation while taking care of her brother some years ago. He had been diagnosed with lung cancer, and it had spread so fast, that she provided hospice care for his final seven weeks. “As the caregiver, we forget we need care, too. We don’t ask for help. But we need to.” Seeing both sides of the proverbial coin, Joyce believes that it should be easier for people to reach out. Finding a core group of friends that will be there for you during the hard times and making you feel comfortable, is something that becomes a necessity after even the littlest time goes by. “It’s okay to ask for help. You must take a break.” On April 15, hundreds of Cancer Survivors and Caregivers will be gathering for the night at the Virgin Valley High School Track Field to become one large group of support. It will be a night of healing, of processing and of supporting oneself and others no matter what path it took to get there. For Diane and Al, this will be their first Relay For Life. “It means so much more to us now; we have had four people in our family with cancer. We need to raise awareness to fight cancer, and to raise funds to research it. You never know what can happen. I will stay until I drop,” said Diane.