Learning I have cancer
I’m not one to dwell on things in life, so when my doctor diagnosed me with pancreatic cancer, my first response was to attack it head on. I knew I wasn’t ready to die, but I was ready to fight. I immediately called my husband Billy, and we dove head first into researching my treatment options.
I don’t think you can ever be prepared for cancer. And there is no point to sit around and wait for things to happen. I looked at all of my available treatment options. I researched online, made phone calls and talked it over with my friends.
One of our friends recommended Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), so I called them and provided my insurance like I had with several other hospitals. CTCA was the first one to call me back. That right there was all the confirmation I needed. They were fast, efficient, and had something helpful to offer to me.
Coming to CTCA
Everything about CTCA was welcoming. Even the driver who picked us up from the airport was friendly and genuinely concerned about traveling and how I was feeling. He was the first person from CTCA that we encountered, and it was very comforting for the process to start off so well. As soon as we arrived at CTCA at Western, in Arizona, we knew we had made the right decision. We were warmly greeted as we walked in, and I met with my treatment team soon after.
My kids were a huge concern for me. When I was first diagnosed, Billy and I had tried to shield our kids from cancer to protect them. However, we soon decided to bring them to the hospital, where they could meet my doctors and ask questions, and see this wonderful place I had found for treatment. The doctors were great. They explained the entire treatment process to them, so that they felt included and could understand the weeks ahead, which helped to put them at ease.
My integrated cancer treatment team
My doctors were always filled with hope, never doubt. They said cancer treatment was going to be a process, but we were in it together. My team answered my questions and developed a treatment plan, including a combination of chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
My radiation oncologist Dr. Chong was amazing. He always had a smile on his face, and was focused on how I was doing as a whole, both physically and mentally.
As my treatment started, my team made sure I was as comfortable as possible. When I started to feel fatigue during my treatment I met with my nutritionist who helped me change my diet to include high energy foods that helped keep me going through the day.
When I experienced nausea because of my chemotherapy, Dorion Simmons, gave me acupuncture to help relieve my symptoms. He was also my massage therapist when I needed to relax and get in tune with my body.
Everyone at CTCA was so kind and genuinely concerned about my well-being, as well as my family’s. Billy was able to take advantage of the acupuncture and massage therapy as well. That helped him to relieve some of his stress from taking care of the kids and me. My team had my children’s needs in mind, too. Puzzles and games were always in my rooms during treatment, so that my children could spend time with me in the hospital but still feel comfortable to just be kids.
The emotional battle can take its toll on you and your family, but my entire team was constantly cheering us on and offering us relief any way they could. They were always giving us hope, which in turn made our future brighter and the entire process more manageable.
Going through cancer is tough, especially on a family. Having the right doctors and team behind you makes that battle seem conquerable. I came out of CTCA a stronger person than I ever believed I could be.
The impact cancer had on my family and me is unforgettable. We have grown closer and bonded through my diagnosis and treatment. Today, we are doing even more as a family. We walk the dog together, go shopping, and even take bike rides as a family. It feels amazing to be alive and to be here, and be able to do these things with my husband and kids.
CTCA never gave up on me. They had the answers I needed, and most of all, they had an option for me; hope.
Becoming the caregiver
I was at work when my wife, Jeana, called to tell me she had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. My whole world just stopped. She had been feeling sick, but cancer was the last thing on our minds.
I immediately rushed home to be with her and offer her comfort as we decided what the next steps were going to be to save her life. I had to take on the role of caregiver immediately. We have four children, so my concern was for my wife’s health and well-being, as well as keeping our children calm and collected during these next few difficult weeks of treatment.
Jeana had already started to make phone calls to hospitals, when one of our friends recommended we call Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA). They were the first hospital to call us back and give us some answers. After speaking with an Oncology Information Specialist, we decided to fly out to CTCA at Western Regional Medical Center, in Arizona, and explore wha kind of new and integrative treatments they offered.
Needing a helping hand
The moment we walked through the hospital doors, a weight was lifted off our shoulders. Everyone we met was warm and helpful. It eased my wife’s mind, and in return, mine. We met with Jeana’s treatment team, and they were extremely positive and full of hope. They discussed which treatments and therapies would be options for Jeana.
The team also talked about the supportive therapies they offer, like nutrition and massage, to help support Jeana’s body and mind during the next few weeks of treatment. They also explained that I could take advantage of these services. It’s hard to see a loved one so vulnerable, and to know that you can’t fix them. So a big concern for me was how I would stay strong during this whole process, so that Jeana could fight this disease.
A focus on healing
As a caregiver, I tried to take away the little burdens from Jeana. I would help feed her, dress her, answer the phone for her, all the little things to help her feel as relaxed and comfortable as possible.
CTCA was by my side the entire way. They helped me sort through my bills and insurance, and made the financial side of the process much less painful. I wasn’t buried in paperwork when I should have been at the hospital with Jeana. They were always there to lend a helping hand. When we needed something, like a hotel, a rental car or just a night out together, they made the arrangements for us, which was such a relief.
As Jeana went through her chemotherapy and radiation therapy treatments, she had acupuncture to relieve some of the side effects of treatment. The doctors recommended that I take advantage of acupuncture and massage therapy as well, to ease my mind and body so that I could better take care of Jeana and our family. It was wonderful that they cared for me, while I was trying to take care of everything for my wife and kids.
The amount of care and respect that was shown to my family and me is something I will never forget. Having CTCA help us through the entire process was a wonderful gift.