Support Volunteer Lenny, was matched with Support Volunteer Pat during his lung cancer treatment. Now, he’s honoring Pat’s memory by serving as a CHN volunteer, helping others as they navigate cancer. He recently sat down to share reflections and lessons from the extraordinary year that was 2020. We are pleased to share those reflections here.
A year ago, a few weeks after my lung cancer diagnosis, I had a four-hour surgery to remove a tumor in my femur. A 15” titanium rod was inserted in my femur to prevent breakage. On Jan 1, 2020 I awoke that morning in my private room shivering. A nurse walked in and I asked “What happened? It’s freezing in here. Is this the morgue?” She laughed sheepishly, noting that someone set the thermostat to 63.
Lesson 1: It feels better to laugh and make people smile.
As the months went on, I had high dose radiation to my brain as well as my femur. A year later, between chemo/immunotherapy, surgery and radiation, I’m thrilled I’ve been able to keep the illness from progressing. My lung tumors have reduced by 75% and I have no head or femur tumors.
This spring I was able to tend my vegetable garden and do the outside chores that I love doing. I also was able to enjoy my local pool with Elaine, soak in the sun and play my guitar and harmonica.
I also was able to visit my cousins and aunts to brighten the summer.
Lesson 2: Don’t count the days, make the days count.
Being a lung cancer survivor, (one year plus) I also decided to volunteer at Cancer Hope Network as a mentor to people that need help, support and have questions about their illness. It’s very rewarding and I thank my CHN mentor, Pat, RIP.
Lesson 3: Do what makes you happy.
To say I’m grateful is an understatement. For me personally 2020 was a win with my current health. Even having to be treated every three weeks with chemo (for life) with scans ever three months, numerous blood test and side effects, I’ve adapted to my reality.
I did have to go through the sadness of losing my aunt to COVID and my cancer mentor, as 2020 was difficult for so many.
I hope and pray for my family and friends that we can be reunited again soon with warm hugs and kisses. (not virtual)
Lesson 4: Cancer didn’t bring me to my knees, it brought me to my feet.