Cancer Doesn't Have a Face Until It's Yours: One Survivor's Story
Nearly everyone has been affected by cancer in some way - whether due to their own diagnosis or a loved one's. In honor of National Cancer Survivor's Day - June 4, we talked with Ray Bertram, a long-time Indianapolis resident, about his battle with lung cancer, one of the deadliest forms of the disease.
More than two years ago, our doctors and team at Franciscan Health Cancer Center Indianapolis cared for Ray from his initial diagnosis through remission. We hope his story encourages you, and inspires you to honor the survivors in your own life.
Q: What Was It Like Getting a Lung Cancer Diagnosis?
A: Well, it started when I began coughing a lot. I went to the doctor and he prescribed antibiotics. When that didn’t work, he ordered a CT scan. The test uncovered a spot on my lung.
Terrified, I went to the hospital, met with the doctors and learned I had lung cancer. They told me I had something with a weird name I couldn't pronounce. But it was a little spot on my lung.
The first thing you think is: how long have I got to live? You know, cancer doesn’t have a face until it's yours or someone you know.
Q: What Was Cancer Treatment Like?
A: The doctors designed a treatment plan specifically for me, and for this type of lung cancer. They tailored my treatment according to my particular cancer, which I thought was really amazing. They described my chemotherapy and radiation regimens. I ended up undergoing 36 radiation treatments and five chemotherapy sessions.
Q: What Would You Say to People Who Receive a Cancer Diagnosis?
A: It's scary as heck. But if you find the right place and the right people, which I did, it’s just like opening up the gate and walking down the lane. The help is there just for you.
How to Honor Cancer Survivors
We applaud the strength and courage it takes to face cancer. If you feel the same and would like to recognize a cancer survivor in your life, it can be as simple as sending a heartfelt message in a card or email, or as elaborate as planning a special trip or party. You might even offer an annual gift by committing to participate in a yearly fundraising walk.
Getting Back to Normal Life
Adjusting back to "normal life" after battling cancer can be a challenge. That's why we offer a cancer care support services that help with life after cancer, such as:
- Cancer survivorship program helps you create a post-treatment medical plan that includes a schedule for follow-up testing.
- Nutritional counseling to get a personalized nutrition plan from a registered dietician.
- Occupational therapy helps you physically adapt to doing daily tasks at home.
- Physical therapy services to improve your mobility and increase your strength.