The following Inspirational Story was taken from Silver Linings: The Other Side of Cancer, published by the Oncology Nursing Press, Inc.
Just reach out, turn on your computer, and open up a whole new world!
My husband and I waited for what seemed like hours for the doctor to give us my biopsy results. We were the only ones left in the office after closing hours. The doctor walked right out into the waiting room and sat next to us and said those dreaded words, "Well, I am sorry to say, it is cancer." I finally knew for the first time what it meant to have the wind knocked out of your sails! I could not breathe. My husband, Denny, was as shocked as I was. I could see that he and the doctor were talking, yet, I was just sitting there in stunned disbelief.
I was very fortunate in that I had a multilevel system of support. I attended a formal support group at Good Samaritans' Cancer Institute, which offered not only group discussions but also, on occasion, guest speakers who were helpful in a variety of ways. As a patient at St. Mary's-Good Samaritan, I also had the opportunity to meet twice monthly with a wonderful oncology counselor, Patricia Liebman, LCSW. Without her help, I would not have obtained the level of growth that I have. She led me to my "fantabulous" oncologist, Dr. Elizabeth McKeen. Both of them are a blessing that has come from my cancer experience. They are my angels!
My younger sister also was a wonderful supporter. As a trained pastoral counselor, she had many tools to assist me. She was diagnosed with breast cancer four years ago. Even with this family history of cancer, I never thought it would happen to me. Why me? Why not me?! I was totally shell-shocked, and then another bomb landed. My dear mother also was diagnosed with cancer. My "Why me?" turned into "Why us?"
My life changed so fast after my cancer diagnosis. After the hectic and painful time of making all the quick decisions and planning and undergoing operations, including reconstruction, I found myself sitting at home still in a state of shock. I desperately needed to talk with someone who had gone through this dark and lonely forest before me. I was looking for someone who knew what to expect next and how long the pain would last. In addition, I had a hundred other questions. I spent many hours just weeping. Just as I thought I had everything under control, out of the blue, tears would stream down and wash my cheeks. Sometimes they still do, but now I know that is normal. At the time, I thought I was going crazy, ripping apart at my new tattered seams.
My husband had just bought a new computer. Being a mom, a grandmother of seven, and a stay-at-home wife, I hardly knew how to turn it on. But something told me to search for other women who were in the same boat. I'd hoped to find someone who had chosen a mastectomy with immediate reconstruction. I saw the screen flash "search topic" and typed in "breast cancer." I would have used the word "survivor" also, but, at that point, the word had no meaning for me. Well, much to my surprise, up popped a long list of women. It was joy and sadness all rolled into one. So many had walked my walkwomen of all ages, races, sizes, and faiths. Women from every corner of the map.
I then discovered that you could pull up profiles of the women on the list. I was guided by my higher power to two women's names. I sent Ginger and Perry e-mail, asking if either would be interested in "chatting" with me because I wanted to talk with someone else who had this feared disease. Much to my delight and surprise, they both wrote back very encouraging words. For the first time, I felt that someone really understood where I was coming from. It was a miracle for me.
Since that first e-mail, which I sent in January of 1996, our group has grown to a dozen wonderful and spiritual women. A braver group of women you have never seen! Computer support groups can be developed and customized individually. You are in control of how you set up your own support system. Some people are more comfortable with just one computer buddy.