“Make the quality of life that you have work for you. Every day is a wonderful day, it’s an experience. Put one foot in front of the other and keep going.”
Inspiring words spoken by our client Lenore, a two-time survivor of cancer, who was left handicap and home-bound by effects of treatment. Thankfully when Lenore went for her regular OB/GYN checkup and annual breast mammogram 3 years ago, her stage 2 breast cancer diagnosis was caught in time. After eight weeks of intense radiation, Lenore has been on hormone blocker for 3 years with 2 more to go. This was not the first time Lenore faced cancer. Prior to her breast cancer diagnosis, she was treated for uterine cancer and survived. Within a week of that diagnosis, she was in surgery and hospitalized for the next 5 days.
“There were so many questions – was I going to be o.k.? Would the cancer come back as it did before?”
Her instinct and experiences in life had lent to a resourceful and independent lifestyle, yet through cancer, Lenore learned to ask for help from her community. Her new found support system allowed her to feel joy. Whether through her social worker who kept her going spiritually when Lenore just didn’t know how to figure it out, Beauty Bus volunteers and the people providing services in the kindest manner, her son and friends, all the doctors who’ve been accommodating Lenore with the financial aspects of cancer, her trusty sidekick Butchy – a curly haired poodle she fought so hard to keep in her small apartment – or through her Unitarian church which challenged her way of thinking, Lenore knows the emotional part of well being is cared for.
“When you lose everything, you gain everything.
I just wish that everyone could see what I see, because everything we look at has a companion. Even a blade of grass has the dew. We come from the earth. We have to let go of the negative – do a grateful list.”
As a retired designer, Lenore finds ways to turn her challenges into fruitfulness, making hand knits, scarves and hats for her support community. She even began writing a book about her journey, hoping to inspire others and leave a legacy for when her time on earth is up. It’s not always easy though; there are days of “Why, why, why, why?” of course, but Lenore just focuses on her quality of life, making it the best it can be.
“Since I can’t get out to often or afford many luxuries, I am so grateful for in-home services. Everyone comes in with a smile and LouLou, my Beauty Bus hairstylist, makes me feel good; the way I used to look. I was really very pretty and vivacious and active as a person. The way she cuts my hair is the way I like wearing it and I am so grateful. It feels really good. She’s a wonderful person – she devotes that time; that has been just joyful for me. I feel like I can depend on this service to bring me a little sunshine in my life.”
Lenore’s inspiring outlook on life and living with cancer is a lesson in discovering gratitude and joy. It’s the support around her that gives Lenore hope; the little things every day to find quality. And that sounds like a wonderful way to look at life.