Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Battling for Blood Cancer Patients

By Puja Thomson

In connection with the "Blogging for Blood Cancer" event to raise awareness for the work of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, this blog honors Marty Laforse, who lived with lymphoma for many years. A true champion, he led a Men's Group through Benedictine Hospital's Oncology Support Program in Kingston, NY. When I was looking for stories about the different ways people face the challenge of cancer to include in my book, After Shock: From Cancer Diagnosis to Healing, Marty, a lymphoma survivor, generously offered his vignette. As you will see, he took little credit for his own resilience, and instead was quick to praise the doctors and researchers who fought on his behalf, making incredible advances. Here's what Marty wrote:

"When I was young, cancer was one of those words I did not even like to hear. If I came across an inevitable article delineating symptoms, I would search my body and its reactions for the merest hint of their presence. One day, decades later, when I had retired I found a hard lump in my groin. My home doctor calmly asserted that we should wait two weeks and see what developed. On the return visit he looked again, noted that the lump did not move and advised me there was a 50-50 chance that it was serious. I went through both needle and surgical biopsies. The results were positive.

I had always envisioned myself collapsing into a spasm of uncontrollable fear were I to receive such news. That did not happen. I didn't dance for joy or fall back on disingenuous philosophies of reassurance but neither did I dissolve into quivering apprehension.

A gaggle of medical visits, blood draws, X-rays, CT-scans and MRI's ensued. I guess laughter helped as, for the most part, my wife and I laughed quite a bit at the comic wigs and gaudy kerchiefs I tried on, in expectation of effects from the chemotherapy I was to undergo. I don't think that this experience broadened me or made me more sensitive. It happened and I luckily found doctors who battled my cancer and have kept it in remission for some years now. I was fortunate that the lymphoma proved treatable. I am grateful for those good years but I battled nothing. Those who treated me and those who researched and discovered treatments battled for me."

Since his death of a sudden heart attack last year, his loss has been felt by all of us in the Oncology Support Program. As a tribute to Marty, who was "gentle, kind and wise," a deck and gazebo have been built at the new Reuner Cancer Support House near the hospital.

About the Author
Puja Thomson is the author of After Shock: From Cancer Diagnosis to Healing - a step-by-step guide to help you navigate your way. An award-winning comprehensive practical resource. ISBN: 9781928663058. Http://


Carrie said...

What an amazingly brave and wonderful soul. Thank you for sharing him with us.