Right off the bat, after diagnosis, I was pretty busy. They sent me straight over to the hospital for bloodwork that same day. The very next day I had my first CT Scan. A lot was riding on the results, because I understood that if the scan showed that the cancer had already spread, I'd be referred to palliative care instead of treatment. I thought, "no problem, I can do this". But the next three days, waiting for the scan results, was murder.
So much of what happens after diagnosis boils down to putting one foot in front of the other. You just show up. There isn't much else you can do after that train has left the station. You just go along for the ride.
Where I really got busy though, was in looking for the answers. I had some pretty specific things in mind. Number one on the list- finding and talking to a survivor. And not just for moral support. I wanted to find out exactly what they did, and start working on my game-plan. I got on the phone and got a hold of a former co-worker who I was aware had been diagnosed with a form of liver cancer. After exchanging pleasantries, I launched into my concerns, one of which was the dismal survival statistic attached to Gallbladder Cancer. Thom didn't hesitate or miss a beat. He told me something like 40% of men would get some kind of cancer in their lives. And in regards to my biggest concern, survival statistics, he said, "Rick, those statistics are averages, and I know you're not an average guy". He said it with such confidence, and with such immediacy, that some of the terror started to fall away.
We also spoke of faith, and of diet (cancer patients seem to always talk about diet), and he left me with some advice. Look up Livestrong. Get ahold of them. Get the Guidebook. You'll want that. So in addition to helping alleviate my fear, Thom gave me a mission. And having a mission gives one a sense of purpose. And a sense of purpose keeps you going.
I know that Lance Armstrong is something of a controversial figure these days. His revelations a few years ago about doping, to win his Tour De France titles, seemed to be his fall from grace. Since then he doesn't seem to be as much of a public figure as he used to be. But I will forever be grateful for this man. Some people might not remember that Livestrong started out as The Lance Armstrong Cancer Foundation.
Upon contacting Livestrong, they started sending me information about resource's for cancer patients. They mailed me The Guidebook. Although very general in it's information, the guidebook was my first stepping stone into this world, this world I didn't know anything about. And from there I used the resource contacts in The Guidebook to start navigating thru it. They also sent me personal e-mails from a representative who made sure I was getting the resources I was after. I can't speak highly enough about these folks.
Thank you for contacting LIVESTRONG for your cancer support needs.
Based on the intake form you completed, you will hear from the following people to meet your identified concerns within 1 business day.
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You will receive the following materials in the mail within 2 weeks:
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- 1 Living After Cancer Treatment Brochure (English) - you can order more copies here
If you are interested in reading more about cancer and the physical, emotional and practical affects it can have on your life or reading interviews with other cancer survivors, go to www.livestrong.org/gethelp.
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Thom was the first of many patients I reached out to. He gave me good advice and emphasized the importance of prayer. He didn't just emphasize it, he sent me a copy of a prayer book that gave him strength in his ordeal. 'Healed Of Cancer' by Dodie Osteen. As time went on I found myself in Thom's position, being the one who a newly diagnosed, wide eyed, and bewildered cancer patient sought advice from. Eventually I volunteered to 'mentor' new patients. And so my guidebook went the way it came, to somebody needing it more than I.
10-10-2012 at 4:56 PM thom wrote:
I am glad that you reached out to me. Keep the faith. He is your greatest strength. Stay strong, eat well, exercise and stay away from sugar.
Stay in touch and I will do the same.
On Oct 9, 2012, at 4:09 PM, richard wrote:
I got the book you sent! It came in the mail today. I'm excited to have it. Thank you for sending it to me.
I will read it this week. I have probably about a week to prepare for the treatment- I have an appointment with USC next Monday.
Thanks again for being there. I hope I can be there for somebody else someday, just like you were there for me.
The Livestrong Guidebook-
"Please Don't Leave Me"
Salty Rose, 2019