Everyone handles a cancer diagnosis differently. Everyone copes in their own unique way.
When ready, some people cope by volunteering their time at clinics or hospitals, some write poetry, some draw or paint, some devote their careers to counseling others or change careers altogether, some become advocates traveling around the country doing advocating stuff. Some become fitness/nutrition consultants, some (like me) write blogs, some set up websites and some write books.
And of course, some – perhaps most, keep more to themselves, preferring to travel the cancer road more quietly and privately.
There is no right way to do cancer and this is at is should be.
After a cancer diagnosis many of us do feel a genuine desire to reach out to others, to do something, to help someone else navigate, to try to make some sense out of this maze known as cancer.
Today I’d like to spotlight the work of one friend of mine who has been involved with a remarkable project. This friend is Lisa Valentine. Some of you might remember Lisa’s amazing guest post, The Sum of All My Parts, about opting out of reconstruction. If you missed it, do check it out here.
Like many of us, Lisa joined a support group after her cancer diagnosis. She and a few others in her support group decided to take this support thing to a whole new level. They decided to create not one, but two DVDs to help others also diagnosed. Funding was provided through grants and gifts.
They call their project Voices of Hope. The goal of the project is to get both DVDs FREE into the hands of newly diagnosed patients and their families.
The first DVD called, “Voices of Hope”, is divided into two parts. Part one is further divided into seven topics: The Diagnosis, The Challenge, Taking the Steps, Emotions, Telling the Family, Husbands and Partners and finally, Hope and Comfort. In each section a diverse group of women openly shares about the topic.
These remarkable women candidly tell about personal challenges they’ve faced, side effects experienced, how their relationships have been impacted, what telling the children was like, how friendships changed and how their lives are now different, but yet also still the same.
They gently encourage the viewer to find her own way, become her own best self-advocate, never settle, take things one step at a time and just find what works best for her. Gentle encouragement comes from these amazing women who understand and who have been in the viewer’s shoes.
Part two of the first video is called, “Post-surgery Images”. Watching this segment moved me to tears as several participants poignantly showed their surgery scars and very differing results. It was very moving.
All this was done in under 30 minutes, which is great because when you’re first diagnosed, one’s attention span might be limited and time is of the essence.
The second DVD is called, “Voices of Hope: Family and Friends”. This DVD also runs just under 30 minutes or so. Some of the same women interviewed in the first DVD appear once again, but this time together with a member or two of their families. There are also some new faces, including two male breast cancer survivors who share as well.
Watching this DVD really made me think about how deeply family members are also affected by a loved one’s cancer diagnosis. Of course, I already knew this, but hearing their thoughts and fears put into words was very powerful.
In particular I appreciated Part 2 – “Mental or Physical?”, because it tackled the topic of sexuality and intimacy, one which is often left out of such discussions. The over use of war metaphors was also addressed. This is a pet peeve of mine, so it was nice to hear others agree with me.
I appreciate the efforts of these brave survivors and their families and I know many of you will too. You can actually see and feel their genuine-ness and compassion coming through via the videos.
And that’s an incredibly beautiful and wonderful gift to offer the newly (and not-so-newly) diagnosed and their families.
I thank each one of them for caring so much and for reaching out to others by sharing their intimate and moving stories of hope with remarkable courage and grace. I am honored to share about this project with you, my readers.
If you’d like to buy one or both of these DVDs for yourself, purchase them for a support (or any) group you’re involved with or just learn more about the “Voices of Hope” project, please visit their website and view the DVD trailers here.
Because as always, sharing helps us all.
What helpful information (if any) did you receive upon diagnosis?
Does any support group you’ve attended offer a DVD as a resource?