This weeks Inspired By Life blog comes from a question somebody asked me at the Relay For Life, a fundraiser I helped organize this past weekend in which we raised almost $30,000 for the American Cancer Society. Somebody at the event, who knows I work with cancer patients and knew I helped organize the Relay, asked why cancer is such a big deal to me. This is a question I hear a lot and a good reason to explain why I am so Inspired to do anything I can to fight back against cancer.
Like so many people, my family has been touched by cancer. My sister was first diagnosed with bone cancer at the age of 9 and went through chemo and radiation at Children’s Hospital in Denver. She has since had other occurrences of cancer in other locations, but luckily nothing that wasn’t easily dealt with.
Fast forward a few years . . . . and my Gram passed away of liver cancer when I was 15. It wasn’t exactly sudden but still is a difficult thing for any family to go through.
Fast forward another 10 or so years . . . . . and I entered the Graduate program so I could earn a Master’s Degree in Oriental Medicine. In my first semester of grad school I had an internship at a hospital in Longmont, working with cancer patients. There was something a little intimidating and, if I’m going to be totally honest, eerie about the infusion room and the idea that these people were putting poison into their body with the intention that it would save their life. During that semester we worked with many different patients and we used Acupuncture to help them with basic things like fatigue, nausea, pain, depression, etc. There was one woman who I became especially close with while she was being treated for kidney cancer and toward the end of the semester, she came in for her appointment and looked so happy she was practically beaming sunshine. She sat in the chair and immediately blurted out, “we did it! I’m cancer free!” and gave me the biggest hug you can imagine. Needless to say, we both had happy tears and gossiped like little girls the whole rest of the treatment about how excited we were. It was then that it began to cross my mind; if acupuncture helped this woman, maybe it could help others too and specifically people in my life like my sister who were always waiting for a reoccurrences.
I began taking courses and clinics specific to cancer care and as I came to the end of the grad program I was pretty sure that this was something that I needed to pursue after school. In my last semester, I looked at the schedule for the upcoming night of clinic patients and I recognized her name immediately. I rushed out to find my old friend and just by the look on her face, I already knew what she was here for. As you can imagine, we shared sad tears and I spent much of the treatment just listening to her talk about her fears about leaving her young kids and her husband behind. We talked about the new treatment plan and keeping a positive mindset and I saw her every Tuesday for the next 2 months until I graduated. Of course we promised to keep in touch, but as it does…. Life happened and it’s been years since we’ve spoken. I still think about her, wondering what happened and praying she was able to beat it again.
Fast forward a few more years . . . . and I was blessed enough to have a patient tell her Oncologist how wonderful her treatments with me were going and so Dr. Samir Witta of Mountain Blue Cancer Care Center called me offering me space at his office if I would come and give his patients Acupuncture. In the two years since we’ve worked together, we’ve seen the most amazing results and I’ve gotten to know so many wonderful people that I am grateful every single day. And as time goes on, I also see the benefit in these large organizations like the American Cancer Society and Susan G. Komen who really are fighting to make cancer a thing of the past. Although I think it will never happen, at least someone is trying to fight back against this terrible disease.
So back to the original question:
Why is cancer such a big deal to me and why am I Inspired do anything I can to fight cancer?
It’s simple. Because I must! Cancer has taken people I love, has touched people whom I care about and may come knocking on my door someday too. When you have passion to fight back and skills that might make even one person feel better, then you must fight back and as I love to tell people… give cancer THE finger.
Blog by: Jana Royer-Morian