As I have stated many times when I have been interviewed, my cancer battle left me feeling somewhat isolated. From that isolation I developed the goal of helping others through volunteering, my blog, website and a radio show which I hope to get back on the air waves soon.
Though it has been 5 years since my odyssey, I still strive to find new ways to reach out and support others. Earlier this year I completed training and became an official volunteer for the Cancer Hope Network. Their mission is to utilize cancer survivors like myself and put them in contact with individuals who are facing a similar battle.
Head and Neck Cancer is considered a rare form of cancer as less then 200,000 cases are reported each year. Through my journey in the last five years I had never met or spoke with anyone who had a diagnoses equal to mine. After I became a volunteer with Cancer Hope, I was immediately put in contact with another Head and Neck Cancer patient named "Richard". Richard is quite a bit older then me and the treatment and recovery process were much more difficult for Richard to endure. Also like me, Richard is a very physical person who fills his time doing hours of yard work around his estate which he says has benefited him in his recovery both physically and mentally.
It was so insightful for Richard and I to speak with one another and be able to compare and contrast our journeys. During one of our conversations we must have spoke for an hour just about the reaction(s) we had attempting to eat certain foods. What many people fail to understand is the traumatic effect the radiation treatment has on one's throat and saliva glands. To this day I still cannot eat anything with the slightest of spice. Food still continues to get stuck in my throat as I must constantly take a sip of water as I eat. Richard tells me he experiences similar issues as well. He frequently mentions to me that his skin is looking worn from all the radiation treatment.
It has been such a blessing to talk with Richard and provide encouragement and feedback to one another. Cancer patients share a truly unique bond with one another and it provides hope in knowing we can all get through this. If you know someone facing cancer, research and reach out to support groups like the Cancer Hope Network because no-one has a better understanding of what a cancer patient is dealing with then another cancer advocate.