Updated: Jul 6, 2021
Come with me on my journey to find out why and how it led to the birth of a community of hope, inspiration and support for people everywhere facing cancer.
April 6, 2017. I remember like it was yesterday. It was the day my mom received a phone call from her doctor with the biopsy results of a goose-egg sized lump on her back. I vividly remember watching her anxiously as she listened to the results. Then she handed the phone to me, hoping I could better understand the medical jargon she was hearing. I asked for a translation into layman’s terms – “What does all of this mean?” “It means your mom has lymphoma” was the answer. My heart skipped a beat. My mom was now looking at me anxiously. And then I heard the voice on the other end of the phone say “It’s good news.” (According to the doctor, it was better than some of the alternative possibilities.) While my mind was spinning and I was in complete panic mode on the inside, I was trying to keep it together on the outside. My mom was still waiting for an answer, and all I could say to her was what I had just heard – “It’s good news.”
Why did I feel the need to say that instead of “You have lymphoma” or “You have cancer”? Why did I feel the need to repeat what the doctor said – that this was good news? Because I knew, even with my head spinning, how important it was to keep my mom’s hopes high and her spirit positive. I knew that with a disease like cancer, she needed to remain hopeful and in a state of optimism. She needed to believe that this was indeed good news and that she would be cured.
While I wanted to burst into tears and felt sick to my stomach, I knew in that brief moment that the most important thing I could do for my mom was to stay strong, maintain a positive attitude and ensure she knew that she was going to return to full health. How she was going to get there, I wasn’t entirely sure, but I was fully aware that she needed to envision a complete recovery. The minute she got scared and stopped believing she was healthy was the minute her body continued down the path of sickness.
As my mom remained blissfully ignorant (for a little while), I was the one who was completely stressed out. I immediately began to devour all of the information available on cancer and cancer treatments (both conventional and alternative), but I still felt all alone with this information – like I was on an island. The one thing that was missing, and it was a huge gap for me, was the ability to speak to someone who had been down this path.
I knew there were many reasons to have hope, but what I wanted more than anything was continued confirmation that everything was, indeed, going to be ok. I wanted to speak to others who had been diagnosed with lymphoma and emerged healthy on the other side. I wanted to hear their stories in their own voices, and I wanted to be able to ask them questions. While reading stories in books and online helped, it was the human connection I was craving, because at the end of the day, we’re all social beings, and there is something about connecting with other human beings that can and does lift our spirits.
While my mom emerged victorious and, in fact, healthier and stronger than she has been in a few years, I was left changed. We successfully gave my mom what she needed – hope at a time when many would have been terrified. She claims that she didn’t lose a night of sleep over this. (In actuality, she did lose a bit, but not much.) My sister and I, however, did lose sleep. A lot. While there was so much information regarding cancer at our disposal, it is almost too much, completely overwhelming and much of it is contradictory. We all need support groups around us and people who can lift us up when we’re drowning. And sometimes, we just need to hear a friendly voice saying “I’ve been there. I know what you’re going through. I not only survived, but am now thriving. And you can, too.” I didn’t have that, but I realized that I could bring that to others, and thus, Connect4Hope was born.
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