My cancer survival story: ‘Suddenly, life seemed so short’
Ryan Summerlin July 9, 2014
EDITOR’S NOTE: As we count down the days to the 15th annual Incline Village Relay for Life, the Bonanza is featurng several stories from locals who survived the disease and are using it as a reason to give back to the community. This week’s story is from Incline resident Lucy Roman, a former account executive for the Bonanza.
Cancer was the last thing on my mind when I made the appointment to see my primary physician. I had some pressure in my belly and I thought I might be suffering from a hernia, but I had no pain and no real discomfort — I was just feeling kind of bloated.
So when my doctor ordered first an ultrasound and then a CT scan, I began to worry that maybe it might be more. But I didn’t expect him to tell me was that I was suffering from Stage 4 uterine cancer and that it was very serious.
That was the beginning of December 2012. In a day, my life was changed, taken over by doctor’s appointments, tests and more tests, and paper work — disability papers, trusts, wills, medical directives for both Nevada and California and a repetitive stream of applications for one medical thing or another.
And phone calls — I needed to tell my family and friends and people who I hadn’t seen or talked to in a while, but who still meant something to me.
Suddenly, life seemed so short.
After surgery and two weeks in the hospital, there was an 8-week recuperation time. During this time at home, I was amazed and touched by the number of people who called and came over.
Old friends and new ones made themselves available to just sit and watch over me in case I needed someone around. People brought food, baked goods, socks, books, movies, cards and flowers. The love was overwhelming.
And then, just before the beginning of my chemotherapy, a group of angels (some of whom I hardly knew) approached me with a plan and schedule to provide me food two to three times a week until my chemo was over. I still can’t talk about these people without tearing up.
It was such an amazing gesture of caring. And when others heard, they too brought food. I was overwhelmed by the generosity of it all.
I thanked God for blessing me with Incline Village. If I had been sick with cancer in Los Angeles, I would be miles from anyone. Here, I was enveloped and nurtured by all these beautiful people.
How does one say “Thank You”? Almost every year for the past 15 years, I took part in Relay for Life, in memory of my mom and in honor of my friends who have fought and won the fight against cancer.
Suddenly, the Relay was much more personal to me and I wanted to come up with a way to thank people. That’s how the “Lucy Didn’t Cook Book” idea was conceived. By publishing their recipes, I wanted to thank the people who made the food or just helped me in so many other ways.
In turn, I could make some money for the American Cancer Society. I had no idea that the book would take off as it did. I started by printing 100 copies and ended up selling almost 300 books and donating over $3,000 to ACS.
And last year, right after my chemo was over, the Relay gave me the opportunity to be a speaker at the event and publicly tell my story and thank everyone again. The gratitude will never go away.
I wanted the money to go to the American Cancer Society because before I had cancer, I knew that the organization did research, but I had no idea that they helped individuals on so many other levels as well.
Some of the first people who came to see me at the hospital were ACS volunteers. Their “Look Good, Feel Better” program helps prepare women for the effects of chemo and also provides wigs, hats and scarves. They provide ride-assistance and financial aid.
Our new Gene Upshaw Memorial Tahoe Forest Cancer Center works with the American Cancer Society to provide a number of their worthwhile programs.
I’m cancer free now. And when I look back on 2013 and all I experienced, I think it was just a blip on the radar … but it was also a time when my community gave me this huge hug.
I’m proud to be a survivor now. So you’ll see me on the track at Preston Field for the 15th annual Incline Village Relay for Life on August 8th. I hope you’ll join me for this very moving and worthwhile event.
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