Cancer Connections of San Luis Obispo is a one on one, positive self help network for those diagnosed with cancer. Our network consists of volunteers who themselves have been diagnosed with cancer and are surviving. These volunteers are not doctors nor trained therapists, but local individuals who offer non-medical information, reassurance, and emotional support with complete confidentiality to others dealing with a recent diagnosis. A cancer diagnosis is often accompanied by feelings of fear confusion, isolation, as well as many, many questions.
We won’t know until you have had surgery, but we think you have ovarian cancer.
These words kind of blew me out of the water. Who had even heard of ovarian cancer? I would really have liked to talk with someone who had had it, but I did not know anyone. There weren’t many resources for cancer fighters in SLO at the time. I did talk with someone who at the time had worked with my husband and had dealt with breast cancer. She had the same chemo that I was being told I would have and also lost her hair, as I would. “S” was wonderful. I just felt so much better after talking with her!
After I completed my surgery and chemo treatments I returned to my teaching job. A few years later I decided to retire early and was thinking about what I wanted to do. There were a few groups for breast cancer fighters and also prostate, but not for all the other different kinds of cancer. What if you did not want to go to a group, or didn’t feel up to leaving the house? I gathered about 5 friends whom I knew had dealt with cancer and we talked about what we would like to do. After much discussion we decided a one-on-one type of a group would be best and so Cancer Connections was born in November 2005.
PS. I am delighted to tell you that “S” is a member of Cancer Connections and has been since the beginning.
My cancer journey started in late 2015, when during a routine annual blood test and fecal immunochemical test (FIT), blood from my lower intestine was found. A colonoscopy was performed in January 2016 and a cancerous tumor ( adenocarcinoma) was found. There had been no symptoms or other indications that the tumor existed prior to the FIT test and colonoscopy. My physical condition at the time was excellent having been a person who walked/trekked 4 miles each day along with other daily core exercises.
The day after the tumor was discovered it was removed along with quite a bit of my colon and quite a few lymph nodes. The pathology confirmed the adenocarcinoma and that 2 lymph nodes were involved. My cancer was determined to be Stage IIIB Colon Cancer. My preventative/precautionary options were: 1) no treatment further, 2) moderate traditional chemotherapy, 3) aggressive chemotherapy.
At this time, prior to deciding on a course of treatment, I was blessed to have the opportunity to discuss an individual’s cancer journey of survival from a very similar colon cancer. This individual is a volunteer with Cancer Connections and he helps people by discussing his cancer journey. He provided me with personal firsthand information as to his physical and emotional journey during his cancer treatments. We spoke on the phone together for about an hour and he offered to be available for more discussions if I had more questions. This personal contact and conversation greatly helped me to decide to go ahead with the moderate chemotherapy treatments. Also, I felt that his discussion of his cancer experiences gave me more evidence that taking precautionary chemotherapy was the right thing to do.
I am now cancer free for about one year and am able to live my life helping my family, friends, and others in my senior mobile home park where we live. Also, I have joined Cancer Connections as a Survivor and want to help others as I was helped during a difficult time in my life.
About 10 years ago my wife Nancy showed me an ad in the paper about a new group in San Luis Obispo looking for cancer survivors who wanted to help people in our community who are going through cancer. I was just a few years out from my throat cancer experience and I was ready to help out others challenged with this terrible disease. I met with Elaine Gardiner and she explained about the Cancer Connection group and what they do. I felt it was an honor and a joy to be able to help and support people simply by talking to them about my experience as a survivor and be able to give the perspective of the ones that survive. This wonderful group was a perfect match for me and I feel blessed to be part of it.
Through the years I’ve had the pleasure to talk with various people about specific hardships and challenges that people with throat and neck cancers experience. Many survivors of neck and throat cancer have very specific problems that I have shared with some of my CC matches. I feel that my input and insight have been very helpful to people who are just starting their journey as a survivor. I’ve laughed and cried with some of these people. I’ve shared my experiences of things that helped me get through my medical issues. Belonging to Cancer Connection has given me much joy and I feel blessed to be able to help people who are struggling. Belonging to this group led me to becoming more involved with the Hearst Cancer Resource Center and through this Center it help me to become inspired to start the Surfing for Hope Foundation.
I look forward to talking to more people in our community and to discuss my journey and hopefully make it just a little easier for those that suffer. Thank you Elaine and Cancer Connections for giving us the vehicle to help give back to our community.
Need support, love or help?
Want to talk to some one about your cancer please
call Cancer Connections at: (805)235-2997