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PAYING IT FORWARD

It was a dreary, cold January day when I received a phone call from my friend, Georgette. Her neighbor had just gone through her first chemo treatment for Lymphoma earlier that week and was not handling it well. Her doctors had advised her of what those forthcoming days would be like, but no one ever fully prepared her. Cindy needed someone; a friend who’d been where she was now.

And I certainly had been there. Originally diagnosed in early 2006, I was treated with chemo and in remission for six months before “Fred,” as I had named my cancer, came back. I then had further chemo and an autologous stem cell transplant in 2007. This time I was in remission for a year. When it came back in 2008 I had chemo followed by an alogeneic stem cell transplant at Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

Sure, I was experienced, (not the sort of thing one really cares to be experienced at), but I didn’t realize how important my practical knowledge was until I started rattling off a list of things for Georgette to pick up from the store. With a few exceptions (you can’t exactly run to CVS for barf bags) most were easily store bought items, but ones that I could not have done without. Suddenly it became very important for some else to have these items. “Don’t come back until you’ve got everything on the list”, I told her half jokingly. I even texted additional items while she was running around.

I was working on my Master’s Degree in education. I wanted to teach but I wanted to teach kids, and here I was, teaching a young mom how to alleviate dry mouth, get rid of “chemo smell” and keep a journal of her treatment, symptoms, and side effects because if there was one thing I learned through my treatments, it’s that chemo has a pattern and the sooner you learn your chemo’s pattern, the sooner you can take back some control of your life.

I was in remission for 2 1/2 years. During this time Georgette approached me with the idea of starting a business. “ Friends and family want to help when you’re going through a difficult time”, she explained, “and while fruit and flowers are nice, what you brought to Cindy is what a patient really needs.” It took I lot of convincing (truthfully I thought she was nuts, we were both teachers, what did we know about running a business) but using her desire to help people and my experience with a wide assortment of treatments and chemo’s, we created Liz’s Chemo Survival Kits. www.LizsChemoKits.com. It’s so practical, that aside from the more than a dozen items we’ve included, even the tote bag is washable. What I’m most proud of is “Liz’s Chemo Survival Log.” It’s a simple way to keep track of your treatments, symptoms, and all the questions your health care professional will ask you each time you see them.

As it turns out my cancer has returned yet again, and I’ve been in treatment for the past three months – and just got a clean bill of health! Looking at it from the practical side of things, I used this as an opportunity to test out and review new chemo alleviation techniques.

~ Liz

1 Comment to PAYING IT FORWARD

  1. August 1, 2013 at 5:26 am | Permalink

    Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you penning this write-up and the rest of the website is really good.

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