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Carol Sill — her story

Editor's note: Carole Sill died of lung cancer almost two years after her diagnosis, but the Legacy support group she founded at UC Davis Cancer Center continues. Her story, in her own words, follows.

Many years ago a large cargo train derailed and landed in our business parking lot. The contents of that train were spread all over and I wondered if it would ever be cleaned up and we could reopen our business.

In November 2004, my husband Dennis and I became part of another derailment. When we heard the words, "You have lung cancer," it seemed as though a train had crashed in the middle of our house. The contents of this derailment contained love, laughter, hopes for the future, planned trips to be taken, Christmas presents ready to be wrapped and a turkey ready to be cooked and enjoyed.

In the train derailment, crews, cranes and front-end loaders were brought in to clean up the mess. With the lung cancer derailment, there was no emotional crew to come sit with us. Our search for help from others like us led only to breast cancer, ovarian, colorectal, prostate and other cancer support groups.

I had lung cancer. I was terrified. I felt so alone. I didn't know what would happen and I didn't want to hear any more about breast cancer survival; I wanted to hear about lung cancer survival.

I felt hope

Determined that no other person should have to face this alone, Dennis and I began to lay the groundwork for Sacramento's first lung cancer support group.

That first meeting was a blessing; my attitude changed and I felt hope. There were only seven people. But it was wonderful. I knew this group would be very helpful to our community. Our group, now named Legacy: Sacramento's Lung Cancer Support Group, is growing. It is open and free to all lung cancer patients, their families and caregivers, regardless of where they are being treated.

We will be there to assist you and your family through the weeks of total emotional derailment. You will be provided a list of lung cancer patients you can call and talk with confidentially. You will know you are not alone. We will be there for you.