Cancer – No dread, no fear

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 30, 2004

Anna Monica – Ripples

Cancer. What a scary word; what a scary thought, what a dreaded disease. If I were not already dealing with it, I might be a little afraid, too, but I am and I am not.

In my sixth year of being identified as a cancer survivor, and as I am doing a third round of chemotherapy because ovarian cancer can be chronic (meaning it can recur again and again), I want to encourage others.

I am talking about this now because I realize that the same day this column appears, the annual St. John Relay for Life campaign is in full force. And, as I started to write this, there came on T.V., a story of a woman dying of ovarian cancer. It doesn’t scare me because I know that each case is different and that my future is in larger hands than my own. My life is close to normal except for regular trips to my wonderful oncologist, Dr. Michael Finan at Ochsner and my treatments, which I, fortunately, take very well, if not happily.

Combined with this, I have a loving, caring family who always looks out for my happiness, makes sure I have regular meals even though I don’t cook, and wonderful nieces and nephews (again, mostly nephews) and the additional newest grandniece (one, Riley) and new grandnephews (three, Samuel, Matthew and Easton) who, I truly believe, give me more reasons to live and to enjoy life. My life is quite full and I need other cancer patients to know that theirs can be, too.

It is quite simple, actually. You have a good relationship with and confidence in your doctor, agree on your treatment (and I trust Dr. Finan completely), let your family and friends love you while you love back and, above all, have a faith in that higher power which created you.

If you don’t have a higher power, I strongly recommend that you develop one. In many articles I read, there is much proof that a faith-based person can and does do better than others.

Yes, I do believe in a body/mind connection, all God-given, and I believe that focusing on others instead of ourselves, loving many things and being interested in different activities all assist in a sick person’s healing. In short, we have to “get over ourselves.” A few years ago, when I wrote my cancer story for this paper, I said it took “faith, family and friends.” I have heard this repeated time and again at funerals and I still believe I was one of the first to put it “out there.” To me, it encompasses everything in life and that is my own living experience.

Taking chemo isn’t so bad. Just remember that this chemical is doing what it can to prolong your life or cure you. In addition, we have the care and concern of family; understanding of friends if your tennis game stinks; prayers of those who love you; continued inquiries of your health; and, if you first lose your hair (which all women dread), you can have a variety of wigs to change your looks and your mood “at the drop of a hat.” Also, did I mention that taking chemo may help you to talk your way out of a speeding ticket, especially if the officer is himself a cancer survivor?

People like the Zadain family of LaPlace do so much for so many with so little. Year after year they labor for people like me and those who will have or had cancer. It is said that giving of oneself is the greatest gift of all. How could anyone doubt that? And, what a difference that gift could make to all of human-kind.

With so many people on this earth, if we all, or many of us, did our part and in some way reach out to others who need, not just cancer patients, what a different world it would be – what a better world. It would indeed be a world in which we would want to fight even harder to live.

If you come to the Relay for Life on May 1st, spend a dollar or two, and be there to support the cancer patients and their families, you may never know the extent of their gratitude.

Anna Monica writes this column weekly and can reached at