Cathy’s Plano Race Blog: Co-survivors are my heroes

A message from Cathy, our Plano Race for the Cure blogger:

Co-Survivor-PhotosCo-Survivors are unsung heroes.  These are the people who provide the support needed by the breast cancer patient during and after treatment.  They include family, close friends, and the treatment team.

Before diagnosis, my exposure to co-survivors was to watch my friend, Ross, after his wife’s diagnosis. I asked him what it was like as a spouse co-survivor:  “You BOTH have to survive the trial. In a solid relationship, you will go through some of the same experiences: the doubt, the fear, the confusion.  You can find that the walk side-by-side will bring you closer as you work through all the uncertainty and the decisions together.  Then you can slowly watch your lives unfold together in front of you, and know that you truly are co-survivors.”

My view expanded exponentially after my diagnosis.  I realize that it can be harder for co-survivors.  As the patient, you have a plan and are actively fighting.  Co-survivors have to watch and support.  Below are insights from my daughters, Gracie and Emily, and a friend.

Gracie was 10 when I was diagnosed and doesn’t like to remember my treatment.  It was horrible to see her mom sick, to watch me lose my hair, to see everything I experienced.  Cancer became more personal, and the experience made her more compassionate.  She volunteers at cheer stations for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day, and been a Camp Angel.  She also relates to other kids with parents battling cancer.

Emily was 13, and her perspective is slightly different.  While she didn’t like watching me go through everything, she never worried.  The advances in breast cancer treatment, and the survival statistics gave her comfort.  Her job was to make me laugh.  When my hair was falling out, she sat on the couch next to me, plucking hairs, naming them and saying good bye. She has a friend whose Mom was undergoing treatment when I was.  They were able to support each other.

My friend, Tasha, said: “I thought about all of our girl scouts. What if one day they have to face this? I needed to help raise awareness and funds to help in the fight against breast cancer. When a friend gets breast cancer you feel their pain – in a different way – but that pain is there. For me the way to handle it was to be there, offer my help, rides, bringing snacks – just little things that I was already doing anyway but for them it helped in a much bigger way.”

This year, we will walk the Plano Race for the Cure together.  I encourage other survivors to invite the co-survivors in their life to continue to walk beside them on their breast cancer journey at the Plano Race for the Cure on June 13th.  My co-survivors and I look forward to seeing you there.  If you haven’t registered yet, you can do so here.