5/27/12 - The Power of Many

My cancer journey has been made easier by the power of many... my family, church family, friends, co-workers, doctors, nurses, technicians, medical staff of all kinds, facebook friends, and even strangers!  In fact, the journey has not only been made easier, it’s been enriched!  The power of many. 

When people join together, it’s incredible what can happen.  I’m so excited that so many have already joined together to build a new CAMC cancer center in Charleston to serve our state. 

Having used the services of David Lee Cancer Center during most of 2006 and again in 2012, I have experienced the excellent care available right here in West Virginia!  We have a superb team of oncologists, nurses, and technicians here, who are highly skilled and knowledgeable in treating cancer.  Plus... they are caring, kind and sensitive to all needs of patients, both physical and emotional. I’ve been impressed and delighted with how the medical staff balances professionalism with caring and a good sense of humor.  I’ve always been provided with the information I need to stay informed about the treatments I was receiving.  And when I had questions, I was always assured that no question was too silly.  I like that.  The only improvement I can see that is needed concerning our medical providers, is to have more of them!

I have noticed a major difference in the available space for treatment since first being treated for breast cancer in 2006.  Things seemed to be a little crowded in 2006, although I never heard complaints from the staff.  But now in 2012, I can see things are even tighter! The chemo unit has been added onto since I was last there, but nevertheless, space is at a premium.  It’s obvious to me that many more people are being treated for cancer in our area, than there were six years ago. 

It’s a scary experience walking into a cancer center for your first chemotherapy treatment.  The nurses and technicians were quick to put me at ease... but I didn’t get that resolution until I was in the chair and being attended to. First I had to navigate what’s become a maze of chairs in the waiting room, and then sit among the crowd in a fairly “clinical looking” space.  Why shouldn’t a cancer center be so inviting that one almost looks forward to going for their treatment?  I would love for future patients to be able to walk in to a serene, peaceful and beautiful space.  It would be nice if the healing could start the moment one walks through the door! 

I’m okay with going to chemo treatments by myself, because I like to read (and sometimes sleep), but my husband likes to come with me sometimes.  He went with me to my first treatment, but after that I told him not to bother.  Except for a few larger rooms, the others are small rooms and the visitor’s chair is part-way in the room and partially in the hallway.  The newest spaces are cubicles, so the person who comes with the patient is just in the middle of the walk area. This is all sad because most people like or absolutely need someone to be with them during chemo.  Another even more significant problem in the new cubicle area is that there is no privacy for the patients.

In the radiology department, we prepare for our treatment in tiny little dressing rooms, at least one of which is also used as a storage area.  Then we wait for a bit in a little cove in the hallway for our treatment.  Another visible need for more space.

I’m sure what I’ve noticed is only the tip of the iceberg.  The extraordinary people who work at DLCC everyday surely must deal with innumerable obstacles due to the lack of space.  With no additional room to expand at the current location and the anticipation of even more need for treatment, there is neither room for more patients or more doctors. 

The most important part of healing are the treatments themselves... but what a blessing it would be if other services were available in the new cancer center.  Many women fear losing their hair during chemo treatments and do not know where to go to purchase wigs or scarves.  Wouldn’t it be fun (and why can’t one have some fun while being treated for cancer?) to have a wig shop in the cancer center?  We’d feel so comfortable being among others facing the same obstacles.  Wigs, scarves, caps and hats... plenty available to try on and see what we could wear for the next several months or year.

It would also be terrific to have someone available to do make-up consultation for women as well.  Once my hair, eyebrows and eyelashes are gone... and my face is swollen from medications... I call myself the Pillsbury Doughboy!  Sometimes it’s okay, and sometimes I’d rather look like ME.  I think I’ve figured out how to do eye make-up, but it’s difficult to do.  Some days it’s because I don’t want to look sick and some days it’s just pure vanity... but whatever it is, I think a woman dealing with cancer, and so many unwanted changes happening to her body, deserves to feel good about herself.

Because of the way I entered DLCC from the parking lot, I did not realize for a long time that there was a pharmacy on site.  There are always a number of prescriptions to be filled before and after a chemo treatment, so being able to just walk by the pharmacy on my out saved me a trip to another location later.  Nice timesaver... and timesavers are also stress-relievers!

Parking.  What can I say nice about parking?  There IS parking available!  However, it gets very expensive when you spend a lot of time going to the cancer center for doctor appointments, blood work, chemo treatment, follow-up injections, etc.  More expenses?  A stress-inducer!  The relief?  FREE PARKING!  I’m definitely in favor of free parking for the cancer center.  It’s not like a person visits the cancer center a few times a year.  It’s several times a week or month and may last as long as a year or more.

What I’m most grateful for about having been treated by DLCC is that I’ve been able to remain in Charleston!  There is definitely a need for us to come together and support the creation of a new cancer center that can adequately accommodate the needs of cancer patients, now and into the future... so that everyone has the opportunity to make the choice to stay here!

  • During the course of my cancer treatments, I’ve been able to stay at home... my home.  I didn’t have to move to another state for the duration of the treatment. 
  • Because I remained at home, I had the continued support of family and friends close by.  And my pets!  :-)
  • Staying at home meant there were no additional expenses regarding travel, lodging or loss of work.
  • I continued to work.  With a day off for the chemo treatment and a day off after to somewhat recover, I worked everyday.  Even though I was dealing with side effects from the chemo, my life continued pretty much as usual. 
  • I think it’s really important to keep as much of our daily lives as normal as possible.  I know others who’ve had to travel for serious illnesses and it puts an incredible strain, both emotionally and economically, on the patient and the entire family. 
  • It’s very conducive to healing to remain at or close to home!
Some of the things I hope to see in the new cancer center may seem frivolous at first thought, but if you yourself or someone you love has had cancer, then you know without a doubt that all these things I’ve mentioned aid in the recovery and healing.  There’s power in the little things.  

West Virginia people deserve a top-notch cancer treatment center right here in our state.  And West Virginians deserve the most advanced treatments and technology available anywhere!  Many people in the CAMC Foundation are working hard to make sure we provide adequate health care and growth in our region’s cancer treatment.  Much support has already come from individuals, businesses, foundations and others in our area.  All of us are invited to become a part of this new cancer center that will benefit friends and loved ones today... and tomorrow.  It’s all happening because The Power of Many makes things happen!

For more information about the future CAMC Cancer Center, how you can become a donor or become involved, Click Here!