Meet Lynn

Lynn B. had a feeling that something was wrong in December 2013. After talking with her doctor’s office about it, the doctor recommended a mammogram a couple months before her annual test was due. The mammogram showed something concerning and required a biopsy.  “I was pacing around my office, waiting for the doctor to call with the results of the biopsy,” Lynn noted. “They said it was Stage 1B breast cancer, and they immediately scheduled an appointment.”

It was a scary time for Lynn. “I’m usually very frantic and have had panic attacks in the past. I cried in the shower but tried to remain calm on the outside.” At her appointment, the doctor reassured her that they had found the cancer very early and he was confident he could get it all. Lynn felt much better after talking with the doctor. “My family was more scared than I was. But I told them not to pity me, just pray for me.  I think I was calmer than the others around me and I just kept repeating to myself, ‘I’ll be fine!’”

Lynn had a lumpectomy in February 2014, six rounds of chemotherapy and radiation. She continued to work; her boss’s wife helped a couple times a week to make sure the accounting department she worked in was not falling behind.

“I found out about Cancer Support Community Central Ohio at Riverside Radiology. Another patient told me and suggested that I check it out. I called and went to a welcome meeting, then to my first meeting of the breast cancer support group in September.”

Lynn is a regular participant at the meetings. “I look forward to it. The women in my group are inspiring and encouraging and truly my friends.  It’s comforting to be around people who have been through what I have, to hear them say that they’ve been through this and to hear their advice.  And it makes me feel good to be able to share what I’ve been through when a new person joins the group. I hope that can help others who are just starting out on the cancer journey.”

Although it has been more than five years since her surgery, Lynn says there is always that fear of recurrence. But she continues to have regular check-ups with her medical team, and she continues to attend the support group monthly meetings, where she gets hope and encouragement from others who have also been on the cancer journey.

“I appreciate all the services that Cancer Support Community provides, especially since there’s no cost for any of the programs. I would encourage anyone who has been diagnosed with cancer to come to the support group. It’s been a big help to me and I’m sure others would feel the same way.”

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Lynn B. had a feeling that something was wrong in December 2013. After talking with her doctor’s office about it, the doctor recommended a mammogram a couple months before her annual test was due. The mammogram showed something concerning and required a biopsy.  “I was pacing around my office, waiting for the doctor to call… Read more.

Being a Community

Written by: Angie Santangelo, Program Director at Cancer Support Community Central Ohio

Community (n):  1. a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals. 2. joint ownership or participation

As I hang up the phone, I am drawn to reflect on this holiday season. This call was good news, treatment is working, and the joy needed to be shared. Earlier today, the news of a new diagnosis hit and shook another family. Through the ups and downs I am so glad we share them as a community. Every day I see acts of community and kindness and my heart swells. Being a part of this community has been constant in my thoughts lately and I truly count being a part of the Cancer Support Community as a blessing in my life.

There are several versions of the definition of community. The above two are my favorite. I witness “joint ownership or participation” daily. Every time someone puts up or takes down a chair or moves a table or washes a dish. Coming early or staying late to spend a half hour or hour volunteering. Greeting the new person who walks in the door and making them feel welcome. These acts can be small but are so powerful, they show joint ownership, being a responsible party in the community. That special feeling that you feel when you walk through the doors is the energy that is created by community. We aren’t just offering programs that you attend, and then walk out the door. We are a community where you come together, learn together, grow together, grieve together and walk away feeling less alone and knowing you have place where you belong.

“A feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests and goals.” We have come together because we each have been impacted by cancer in some way. Hearing those words, you have cancer, means your live changes forever: Whether the cancer has invaded your body or the body of someone you love. The fellowship in this community is so beautiful to me. Watching people care and support one another. Getting weekly updates on treatment, validating a new an beautiful bald head, placing a name in the box during Qigong, making an ornament and giving it to the person next to you, moving your yoga mat over to make room for someone, sharing the joys of clean scans, sharing the sorrows of loved ones lost – this is fellowship – this is community.

As I wish our community happy holidays this season, I am acutely aware, it is not always happy during the holidays. In the recent weeks I have celebrated with those who are now cancer free, who are seeing family coming home for the holidays, and who see treatment working. I have also been heartbroken by the loss of a child, a family pet, and our beloved chef. I’ve been angry with those who have received there second cancer diagnosis, a re-occurrence and failure of treatment. The joys and sorrows weave their way through our community. Together we laugh and together we cry. Each person’s moment being important and acknowledged.

The hands that keeps us productive, organized, and help get the word about who we are out belong to our volunteers. Those who give a half an hour or a whole day or make a weekly commitment help us reach more people and serve more people. The work we do is increased by the hands of our volunteers.

The glue and heart that holds our community together is our staff and facilitators, all who are here because they have a passion to serve. The day to day would not happen without their tireless effort. The passion shows through is every dollar raised, every flyer made, every email sent, every activity organized, every volunteer recruited, every class provided, every repair made, every roll of toilet paper changed!

The vision and momentum to keep moving forward comes from our board of directors. I stand in awe of these men and women who are community leaders. They are not just here filling a seat, they are invested in making a difference and do so with their dollars, time and talents. We are stronger, growing and mission focused because of their dedication.

Community – To quote my daddy, is “awesome.” Thank you for being a part of this community. As we walk through this holiday season together, join me in being part of the community. Give the gift of time and attention to your neighbor. Check in to see if this is a joyous time or a challenging time, be with them in the here and now. I believe the power of the Swedish proverb: Shared joy is a double joy; shared sorrow is half sorrow.

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Written by: Angie Santangelo, Program Director at Cancer Support Community Central Ohio Community (n):  1. a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals. 2. joint ownership or participation As I hang up the phone, I am drawn to reflect on this holiday season. This call was good… Read more.

Superhero Lincoln

Written by: Courtney Kurtz, Lincoln’s mama

 

When Courtney took her son Lincoln to the doctor for a check-up, she never thought it would result in a hospital visit and a cancer diagnosis. 

Lincoln didn’t seem to have any symptoms that anything was wrong. But when the pediatrician examined him and found that the 18-month-old’s liver was enlarged, he immediately sent them to Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

January 2017, Lincoln was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia T-cell. 

Here is Courtney’s perspective of their cancer journey…

Q: What would you like the world to know about your cancer journey with Lincoln?
It’s been an incredibly hard journey, but Lincoln is an outgoing kid who loves people. He has spent more than 100 days in the hospital, and through it all he has kept his spirits up.

Cancer treatment is really hard on kids and there are many side effects. During the first 30 days of treatment, Lincoln lost the ability to walk and crawl. He stopped eating and lost a lot of weight, and we nearly had to have a feeding tube put in. But we were able to work through it with various medicines, and after the first nine months, he started gaining weight again.

There is a tremendous need for more research for childhood cancer.  These kids are amazing and deserve better treatment options with fewer toxicities and long-term side effects.

Q: What did others close to you do for you and your family that made a difference?
We are thankful for all the support we have received, including meals, financial assistance and gifts for Lincoln.  These all helped us get through some really difficult times.

Q: What gave you strength during your journey?
It’s been really hard, but my child is my everything – I’d do anything for him. This kid is amazing, and his spirit is unbreakable and that gives me strength.  Right after Lincoln’s diagnosis, I took two months off work, and then had to go part-time. I didn’t want to miss a single minute with my baby. My employer has been helpful and understanding, letting me have time off when he’s sick or has appointments.

Q: Is there a program at Cancer Support Community that has helped your family?
The monthly moms’ support group has been a big help.  It is always great to connect with other moms and know you’re not alone. I’ve found that during the intense times, I run on adrenaline. But when things get a little better, the emotions start to creep up on me, and that’s when the support group is helpful.

Lincoln went to an art program in the Kids Korner and he loved it. He is immuno-compromised so he can’t be around a lot of other kids, especially if someone is sick. He longs to play with other kids, but it’s been hard to find a safe space for him to do that. So it’s nice to have these activities at Cancer Support Community in a safe environment, where other parents know not to bring a sick child into the program.

Q: Where are you now in your journey with cancer? 
For his type of cancer, treatment lasts for 3½ years. Lincoln had nine months of initial treatment to get the cancer into remission. Now, he receives daily, weekly and monthly chemo and steroid treatments. He takes nausea medicine every day, but still throws up a lot. He’s had a rougher road than most with the side effects and hospital stays. But he’s in maintenance now, after almost 3 years. The treatment will end in May 2020, although there will be more tests after that to make sure there is no recurrence. But for now, Lincoln has started preschool and is enjoying being a kid as much as possible.

Please consider becoming a Superhero by donating to Kids Korner for children with pediatric cancer and their families. Click HERE to donate.
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Written by: Courtney Kurtz, Lincoln’s mama   When Courtney took her son Lincoln to the doctor for a check-up, she never thought it would result in a hospital visit and a cancer diagnosis.  Lincoln didn’t seem to have any symptoms that anything was wrong. But when the pediatrician examined him and found that the 18-month-old’s liver… Read more.

Superhero Logan

Written by: Jessica Burrey, Logan’s mother

Two days before his first birthday in 2018, Logan was diagnosed with anaplastic ependymoma grade 3, a brain tumor.

Q: What is one thing you wish the world knew about your cancer journey with Logan? 

This type of tumor is relentless and while we are so incredibly thankful that Logan is doing so well, the fear and worry will never go away. Recurrences happen even years after initial diagnosis and the stress of that fear is very tough on our family.

Logan is amazing and has worked so hard to get strong and overcome so much. God made him stubborn and strong willed because He knew Logan was going to face this. Due to the tumor and surgery, Logan has balance, strength, and gross motor difficulties. He wore a hearing aid for 8 months due to a moderate to severe hearing loss. That has improved as well, and he no longer wears it.

Q: What did other people do for you and your family that made a difference?

Our friends provided food for our family, so we didn’t have to worry about that. They also helped watch our older son, who was 5 at the time. In addition, friends provided gift cards to help with travel expenses, thoughtful texts and messages that I could read late at night when I couldn’t sleep, toys for the boys so they had different things to play with at the hospital and at the apartment when Logan was in treatment.

Q: What gave you strength during your journey?

First and foremost, faith. Support from friends and family, visits at the hospital from friends and family, encouraging notes and letters from others.

Q: Is there a program or service at Cancer Support Community that has helped your family?

The support group for cancer moms helps me a lot. Being around other mothers who are going through the same thing, I know I’m not alone on this journey. The boys love the activities in the kids’ group, Kids Korner. There was a cooking class where they made funny face pizzas and an art class, too. They had fun with the other kids.

Q: Where are you now in your journey with Cancer?

Logan now gets scans every 4 months on his brain. His spine is scanned every year to make sure the tumor hasn’t metastasized to his spine. He receives weekly physical therapy to work on deficits caused by the tumor and life-saving surgery and radiation.

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Written by: Jessica Burrey, Logan’s mother Two days before his first birthday in 2018, Logan was diagnosed with anaplastic ependymoma grade 3, a brain tumor. Q: What is one thing you wish the world knew about your cancer journey with Logan?  This type of tumor is relentless and while we are so incredibly thankful that… Read more.

22 and thriving

Written by Alexsandra Dietrich

 

Hello, my name is Alexsandra (Alexsa) Dietrich. I am 22 and I am a Hodgkin’s Lymphoma cancer survivor.

On February 17, 2018, I found a large lump in my neck that had been growing over 72 hours. For months I had been diagnosed three times with bronchitis and once with pneumonia. I thought because I was from Florida and was not used to the Ohio weather, that was why I had been feeling off for so long. After seeing the lump progress so quickly, I went to the urgent care clinic that had been diagnosing me with the other illnesses. They sent me to Riverside Hospital’s emergency room, where I sat for six hours, waiting on blood tests and scans.

A doctor then came in and sat eye level with me. He told me my scans “lit up like a Christmas tree” and in his professional opinion he would be surprised if I did not have lymphoma. I was then admitted to the hospital, where I stayed for five days, having more tests done and a biopsy to remove the head of the mass sticking out of my neck.

As a student at The Ohio State University in the middle of Spring semester, I decided it would be best for have follow-up treatment there back home in Florida. I had to drop all my classes and move back to Florida and, just like that, in less than a week my whole life was flipped upside down. I became a patient at Moffit Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida, where we then began more tests to determine the stage and treatment plan.

After what felt like an eternity, it was determined I had Stage 2B Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. With this diagnosis, I had to complete a mandatory 12 rounds and 6 months of consistent chemotherapy. I received the ABVD treatment plan and went to a 5 to 6-hour chemo drip every other Tuesday. During this time, I lost my hair, could not walk without a cane, could not eat without medicine, and had other major side effects.

I was a strategic communications major before being diagnosed and am happy to say during treatment I changed my course of life and am now in school for social work in hopes of working with the oncology population. I was able to finish all my chemotherapy, have clear scans, and ring the bell to signify completion of my treatment on August 14, 2018, a day that I will never forget. Although I endured something difficult, I never gave up and never stopped fighting and I am grateful to be here today.

I’m back in school now, studying social work and have had the wonderful opportunity to do an internship at Cancer Support Community Central Ohio. In my role there, I have met so many other cancer patients and survivors, plus their family members and friends, who also are affected when someone they care about has a cancer diagnosis. I’m also helping the organization raise awareness of the impact of cancer on people my age and providing a safe space online for young people in their 20s and 30s to connect with each other and share their journey.

Cancer changed my life, but it changed it for the better. I hope to continue to show people the light at the end of the tunnel and change other people’s lives too.

Alexsa’s survival bell ringing video here. Warning: you will probably cry

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Written by Alexsandra Dietrich   Hello, my name is Alexsandra (Alexsa) Dietrich. I am 22 and I am a Hodgkin’s Lymphoma cancer survivor. On February 17, 2018, I found a large lump in my neck that had been growing over 72 hours. For months I had been diagnosed three times with bronchitis and once with… Read more.