I arrived at Winship Cancer Institute, in Atlanta, as a patient nine years ago. I am currently the volunteer chair of the Winship Patient & Family Advisors (PFA), a member of the Emory Healthcare PFA Council, and a Winship Peer Partner. I was recently appointed to a three-year term as a patient advocate on the National Cancer Institute's Head & Neck Steering Committee's Metastatic Recurrent Task Force. As a Task Force member where I will help develop evidence-based strategies for clinical trials designed to improve the quality of life for patients with head and neck cancer,
"You have cancer," are three words no one ever wants to hear. Every year almost 12.7 million people worldwide discover they have cancer and 7.6 million people die from the disease. It is the leading cause of death worldwide according to the World Health Organization, Fact Sheet February 2017
When cancer attacks it not only affects the individual, it also launches an assault on the family and in some instances the larger community. In most cases, when marriage is involved, the spouse becomes the primary caregiver. Family and friends contribute to add much-needed support. There is also a unique and less recognized group of "angels" that seem to appear out of the ether to aid and comfort.
In the spring of 2009, my husband Charles and I received two distinct cancer diagnoses less than 72 hours apart. Our world was already falling apart financially because of the hard-hitting recession, but nothing could prepare us for the devastation that cancer would wreak on our health, our family, our marriage and our future. When our cancer journey began, individually and jointly, we had no idea of the role reversals, disappointments, challenges, losses, let downs and betrayals that lay ahead.
Cancer is a formidable opponent in any circumstance. The treatments of chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery take a physical and emotional toll that only those who have experienced them can understand. The pain of a caregiver or family member watching their loved one battling this all-consuming disease is immeasurable, as it creates a broad swath of destruction across all areas of life their respective lives.
I would like to hear your Cancer story and explore ways we can help each other not only survive, but thrive.
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Why we run
Copyright © 2018 Bari-Ellen Ross Cancer Survivor and Patient Advocate - All Rights Reserved.