As a society, our focal point is where it should be, on the person with cancer – but cancer is not a one person fight. It takes a community. As a community, we struggle to know how to help and what to say. We just know we need to do better. We want to do better.
Cryshaunda was 27-years old when the doctor told her she had pancreatic cancer. New mother to a 6-month old daughter, she immediately went into denial. After a few “second opinions,” reality set in and with reality came fear.
Fear that she would not make it.
Fear that she would not see her daughter grow up.
A month in, she became determined. Leveling with herself, she promised she would do all she could. All meant everything that she had done before cancer. She was a dancer, so she danced. She loved volunteer work, so she continued to look for ways to give, ways to serve.
It may have been hard to see at the time, but Cyshaunda was on her way to being cancer-free.
We often overlook the role of “our people”–our people that love us, support us, comfort us, and care for us in hard times. Our hard times can be their hardest times. The mental debate for our people can be agonizing.
They search for the right things to say or do, not sure what is best, or how to help. They are scared too, but censor their fear.
For Cryshaunda, her family had not come face to face with cancer before her diagnosis. There was no other experience to reference. They knew the facts. Pancreatic cancer. 27-years old. New mother.
They were devastated.
The fix for such emotions is not chemotherapy, surgery, or radiation. The fix is hope, peace, faith. Cryshaunda’s advice to families who are facing cancer is, “Keep the faith. Look for God. Bet at peace and help your loved one be at peace.”
We are changing the narrative on cancer. Crysaunda is a pancreatic cancer survivor. Things are getting better. Research is making a difference.
Perhaps our support system, our people, is the bridge between a where we start when diagnosed and where science can take us – they help us see our path out, our path beyond cancer.
One day science will prevail and cancer will no longer have power in our lives. Until then, one survivors’ advice to those who want to help: Be their peace.
For more information on the Kay Yow Cancer Fund, visit KayYow.com.