Mar 02, 2017
After a cancer diagnosis, patients and caregivers may wonder what they can do to help improve the lives of other people with cancer. Many find that becoming a patient advocate can be a positive and empowering way to give back. Advocates share their stories in the “Voices on Cancer” series on the Cancer.Net Blog. Below are highlights from these heartfelt posts; read the full series online.
“When Cancer Changed My Dreams for a Family”
Marcia Donziger describes how her experience with infertility from cancer treatment led her to a career in patient advocacy:
“In 2005, I became the proud mom of twin boys born via a surrogate with donor eggs. The birth of my twins has helped me practice gratitude every day now. Cancer may have closed some doors, but it also opened new opportunities to advocate for others. As a bonus, I’ve also found that advocacy work has become part of my lifelong healing process.”
“How I Went From Caregiver to Patient Advocate”
Norman Scherzer describes how he became a patient advocate after caring for his wife:
“In 2000, my wife, Anita, and I had reached what I feared was the end. She had been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer known as leiomyosarcoma in 1994, and after countless surgeries, rounds of radiation, and rounds of chemotherapy, her doctors told us there was nothing else that could be done. We gathered together our two children and six grandchildren to celebrate our 39th wedding anniversary, but also to say goodbye, as we didn’t know if there would be a 40th. Still, I felt that there must be something else I could do.”
“What It’s Like Being a Childhood Cancer Survivor”
Angela Lee shares three things to consider as a cancer survivor, including the importance of sharing your story:
“Not only did it take years for me to get involved, it took years for me to share my story. It made me vulnerable, too uncomfortable. Most people didn’t relate to my story, and I assumed, as someone who was a young survivor, ‘Who would want to hear about my pain?’ Teenagers are supposed to think they are invincible. I know now that sharing is truly caring. Embrace your story and share it—you may never know what connection may come of it or whose life it may impact.”
“How I (Try to) Avoid Advocacy Burnout”
Anita Mitchell describes how she fell into advocacy, and how she maintains her passion and energy for the work:
“I had not planned to become a colon cancer advocate. It is something that I just became. I suppose after everything that happened to me, I had to find meaning and purpose in my diagnosis.”
Cancer.Net provides timely, comprehensive, oncologist-approved information from ASCO, with support from the Conquer Cancer Foundation. Cancer.Net brings the expertise and resources of ASCO to people living with cancer and those who care for and about them to help patients and families make informed health care decisions.