by Lianne Castelino www.whereparentstalk.com
As a society, we generally focus our attention on fundraising, compelling statistics and screening practices when it comes to the subject of cancer. These themes are largely also what grab the attention of journalists and therefore become media stories.
What is less exciting, downright 'unsexy' and perhaps too disturbing for average consumption is the daily struggle that is coping with cancer. Just because it's not front page news, doesn't mean it isn't important or pertinent to all of us — both with and without this devestating disease.
The various stages the cancer-victim, their spouse or partner, their family and friends and extended network endure is simply heart-wrenching. Regardless of the diagnosis or treatment plan or prognosis — the words themselves, “it's cancer” — would give anyone the chills.
The plight of the family scrambling to cope with such a reality is usually nothing short of a harrowing emotional roller coaster. Every setback is met with anxiety and fear, ever tiny step forward hailed as a victory and every new hour becomes cause for celebration. Cancer victims, cancer survivors and their families don't take a thing for granted. They understand the meaning of: “live life to the fullest”.
I've written in this space about a story that struck me to the core a few weeks ago and still reverberates on a frequent, daily basis.
When I spoke to Cathy Anagnostopoulos about her migraine symptoms that turned into a cancer diagnosis (in February), she was stoic and strong in recounting her unbelieveable story. The Toronto mom of 3 needs a stem cell transplant to survive the rare form of leukemia that has invaded her body.
We spoke last week, a day after she had gotten out of the hospital following more than a month of gruelling, body and mind-numbing chemotherapy.
Her main concern was her family, how her two sons and one daughter (all under age 14) were coping. Her husband Nikolaos (Nik) has been a tower of strength by all accounts managing his wife's shocking diagnosis, his children's emotional journey with day-to-day demands (meals, homework, raising children) while desperately searching for a match, a stem cell donor that could help save his wife's life.
I don't know this family, have never met them, nor do I need to in order to be moved. They are the epitome of courage, every single one of them for getting through every single moment which such an enormous weight to bear.
My one and only hope is that anyone and everyone get swabbed to find the ONE MATCH that Cathy so desperately needs. That her family, friends and total strangers are fervently praying for.