I recently had the pleasure of meeting with Lynda, a strong, healthy woman dedicated to sharing her breast cancer survival story in order to promote early detection, along with promoting the importance of the mind, body, and spiritual components of healing.
You see, Lynda was keenly aware that genetically the odds were against her when it came to the topic of cancer. Lynda’s mother was one of 12 children. Several of her mother’s sister’s, along with their daughters, lost their lives to cancer. Later in life, Lynda also lost 2 cousins to cancer. Lynda was overcome with emotion as she spoke of how particularly difficult it was to lose her cousins. It is clear that the wounds are deep from the loss of her beloved family members. As Lynda began recapping her family history of cancer, I became emotional myself. It seemed so unfair that cancer was lurking in the shadows, ready to make its debut appearance, asking for attention and begging for forgiveness as it walked away with yet another life. At this point, I began to understand how one might simply surrender to the disease in order to once again avoid hearing the same song, the song that has played on repeat for so long, the song that sings, “you have cancer”.
It is hard to imagine how a person feels when one hears the phrase, “you have cancer”. It is understandable how a person might go out of his/her way to avoid hearing those scary words. Lynda, being a high-risk patient due to her family history, was adamant about not hearing that phrase. She decided that she would avoid hearing it by simply avoiding any procedure that might result in a provider uttering that phrase.
Let me introduce you to Rachel Demarco, APRN., here at Community Health Center. I will be blunt and say that if it weren’t for Rachel Demarco, Lynda is convinced that she wouldn’t be here today. You see, Lynda was a patient of Rachel’s, a patient very much overdue for a mammogram. Lynda was prepared for a battle when she went in for an office visit, but was swiftly redirected as it was not the battle that she had anticipated. To Lynda’s surprise, a battle of compassion and hope ensued. Rachel was not going to allow Lynda to leave without agreeing to have her mammogram. Lynda recalls feeling scared and reluctant to have the procedure, but felt the intensity of concern and compassion that emanated from Rachel as she spoke. Rachel’s kind, honest and caring demeanor comforted Lynda and made her feel safe in that moment, safe enough to say, “Yes” to the mammogram.