with Elizabeth Long Kinler
by Nicole LaCour
People often say when they hear the word cancer from their doctor, they don’t hear anything else that follows. At Miles Perret, our clients often tell us that it takes time to get up the courage to come through our doors and find out about the many ways we can help them. That wasn’t true for Elizabeth Long. As soon as she was dropped off at home from the gallbladder surgery that revealed metastasized, stage IV cancer, she got in her car and drove straight to Miles Perret Cancer Services.
Elizabeth believes in the empowerment of information. “I got all the pamphlets. I read how to tell your children. The library was very useful. I looked at the wigs and the head coverings. I got my “so you’ve got cancer”* bag and my binder.” Her visit to MPCS was one part of Elizabeth’s preparation for what she was about to face.
With Jane Armentor
by Nicole LaCour
Fighting cancer changes your life. From the day the doctor gives you the diagnosis, things get weird. Maybe it’s looking forward to having strange chemicals put into your body and being disappointed when your white cell count is low and you have to skip a session. Maybe it’s laughing with your daughter in the wig room at Miles Perret as you try on different styles. Maybe it’s finding yourself wishing you had a more commonplace cancer, so you had someone to talk about it with. Maybe it’s the numbness in your feet and wearing shoes that you used to make fun of when your mom wore them. It’s drastically changing your diet and appreciating spring like you never have before. It’s having a party to shave your head and scheduling a rotation of friends and family who refuse to let you go to chemotherapy alone. Fighting and living with cancer brings weird things into your life.
Jane Armentor is used to things being a little weird. When she began college at USL in 1975, everyone thought she had a weird accent. She landed in Lafayette by way of a couple of years in England by way of eight years in Iran. “I loved it there,” she remembers. “In the winter, the snow would start at the top of the mountains and by the time it snowed in town, the mountains were covered in white. It was beautiful.” But an unusual childhood didn’t prepare her for hearing the news that she had stage IV pancreatic cancer that had metastasized to her liver. Jane had coaxed the initial news out of her doctor on the phone while she was at work. A lifetime smoker, Jane went to her car and reached for her habitual comfort.
Life lessons from Charlene Morella, Cancer Warrior
ONE: Carpé Diem, Seize the Day
It’s a cliché you hear all the time. But when you hear it from a woman who’s beaten cancer four times, it’s not just a cliché. Charlene Morella has always been an optimist. “The original Pollyanna,” she calls herself. Her glass-is-always-half-full attitude was tested over the course of 33 years by four bouts of cancer. “I’m one of the luckiest women in the world. I keep beating it. I’ve got a wonderful family and really good friends. I can see the sunshine in the morning. I wake up every day and think, ‘I’m alive. God, thank you again.’” The Four: Charlene battled Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 1982 for about a year. It was a rough fight with all the challenges that come with fighting cancer; hair loss, weight loss, emotional and physical toil and strain on her family. But she beat it and came out the other side strong, her optimism a constant companion. She was cancer free for 25 years until 2007 when doctors found cancer in her stomach. This time surgery was her cure and she had her stomach completely removed. She had to train herself to eat again. “I can out eat my husband now,” she said. In 2010, Hodgkin’s Lymphoma tested her will and she fought that too. This time, modern medicine had advanced with targeted drugs and she was able to beat back cancer’s attack on her white blood cells once again. And in 2014, the Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma recurred. Again, targeted, advanced drug treatments helped her beat it. After five treatments, the chemotherapy was becoming too much for her body and her doctor paused the regimen. Then they ran a test and it showed that those five treatments had been enough and the lymphoma was gone. With each diagnosis Charlene refused to give up and didn’t allow herself to be a victim. She chose instead to fight and have gratitude for making it through each time. “My husband finds me dancing in the kitchen sometimes singing, ‘I love my life.’”
TWO: Modern medicine is great, but your health is yours. Be involved in your treatment plan. Continue reading