The changing face of cancer
Jacque Painter's story
I was diagnosed with Stage IIIA non-small cell lung cancer in April 2004. I had my last treatment on Nov. 1, 2004. I am back to work full-time and doing more than I did prior to my diagnosis. I am currently working on improving my overall health and rebuilding my endurance and lung capacity. My goal is to walk the California International Marathon.
This has been a strange journey for me. The fear and uncertainty that come from receiving a diagnosis of cancer are indescribable. However, from the first time I found out I had cancer, a whole new world opened.
I realized an all-new relationship with my family. We have always been close and I knew they loved me, but I was in for a shock when they exposed the extent of their commitment to me. They kept me grounded and focused during those times when I just wanted to crawl off and cower and cry.
I found out friends and coworkers can and will do more for you than you ever think possible. I have a mirror filled with note cards, e-mails and letters with words of love and encouragement. I still read and use them to make each day count.
A very wonderful revelation was the army of doctors, nurses, technicians, radiologists, pharmacists, clerks and others who help you. I met the most caring, concerned, intelligent, interesting people. I still wonder at the number of people it actually took to fight my disease.
I once heard life described as tinted with color prior and Technicolor after a life-altering event. For me this is true. I have found friends and comrades in arms in my support group. I have experienced a new enjoyment of life, and, like a lot of people who have a life-threatening illness, a renewed focus on what is important. I no longer put things off. I am no longer afraid to try new things. I take trips, visit the gardens and call that friend. I am doing volunteer work, which is what I always wanted to do, but just couldn't seem to find time for.
So for all the vicious and terrifying things cancer brings, for me it also brought some very wonderful changes in my life — and for that I am very thankful.Return to feature story