Kindness in Real Life: Cancer survivors must speak out

Cancer survivor Margie Elkins at the Niantic boardwalk near Cini Park in East Lyme. (Lee Howard/The Day)
Cancer survivor Margie Elkins at the Niantic boardwalk near Cini Park in East Lyme. (Lee Howard/The Day)

I am a caregiver, survivor, and a volunteer for American Cancer Society and I believe that it “takes more than research to win the fight.”

During my recovery from breast cancer I was feeling isolated with nowhere to go and no one to talk to.

I found American Cancer Society when I attended a survivor’s luncheon. There I found information about programs like Reach to Recovery and Road to Recovery, a team that is available 24/7, as well as places for families to stay such as Hope Lodge.

Other programs included “Look Good, Feel Better” and numerous information and programs that can be obtained through the website www.cancer.org or by calling 1-800-227-2345.

In the past year I have taken many of their tutorials and hope to be that volunteer who spreads the good work that American Cancer Society does by encouraging survivors to share their story. It takes a village to heal us all.

A new and very close friend and I had the same diagnosis and surgery a year apart. Our breast care navigator reached out to me to speak with her.

We are in two different stages in our lives, me retired and trying to find my way and she actively working as a toddler teacher. Our relationship has given us a closeness and support we had been looking for (I wish I had a me during my first year of recovery).

When we hear the words “you have breast cancer,” it feels like our world has come to an end. What do we do next?

Our journeys may be different but we share the same fears, hopes and struggles.

I missed a mammogram in 2014, then in December 2015 was diagnosed with DCIS.

I did not have to go to chemo or radiation. Some say I was lucky, but I’m not sure what luck has to do with it.

I had a left breast mastectomy and reconstruction, which came with all the physical and emotional scars.

I encourage you all to share your stories with others, let them ask questions, and share their tears. “It takes avillage.”

Margie Elkins is a cancer survivor from East Lyme. This was part of a speech she gave in October 2017 at Rocky Neck State Park in Niantic titled “ACS Making Strides Against Breast Cancer.”

 

Kindness in Real Life is a regular feature in which we encourage writers to tell about kind acts being done in the community. To submit your own story and photos, email Lee Howard at l.howard@theday.com.

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