Help Maren and Others Like Her – Goal $5,000

Maren and her Mom

My name is Maren, I live in Seattle, I’m in my early 30’s and I recently had cancer.   I was diagnosed with late stage Melanoma earlier this year.  Almost before I understood what was happening, I had a wide excision and my lymph nodes removed in surgery. This was followed by months of intensive immunotherapy and now I am receiving maintenance treatments over the next year to prevent a reoccurrence.

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Around the same time that I was diagnosed my mother started to feel unwell. I really thought her symptoms might just be the result of stress from helping me cope with my own cancer diagnosis.  But the day before my surgery, Mom was hospitalized for tests and observation.  The tests revealed she had a Glioblastoma Multiforme — a type of fast growing brain tumor.  The shocking news was unreal, overwhelming, frightening.  My mom and I had always been close, but I would never have believed that cancer was something that we would one day share. Within weeks I was receiving immunotherapy and she was getting radiation and chemo treatments.  Now we were sharing nausea, overwhelming fatigue, and fear of what was to come.

Soon I realized that I couldn’t do this on my own.  Supporting my Mom through her illness was my priority, but I didn’t really know how to help her and myself at the same time. I was left to go through my treatment on my own, often feeling sad and anxious or even sorry for myself.  But I was totally distraught and depressed when I realized that I was going to lose my Mom.

It was at this time when I felt I needed more emotional support that I decided to call Cancer Lifeline.  I talked to the most amazing woman who helped me understand that my feelings were normal, that I wasn’t alone, and that there was help and resources available to me.  Soon I started attending Cancer Lifeline’s Young Adult Support Group.  To my surprise I discovered a room full of people my age who were experiencing different types of cancer with all its anger and uncertainty and fear.  I immediately realized that this is where I belonged.

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During my treatment, I developed Bell’s Palsy — another unpleasant side effect.  I was self conscious to go out in public but at my support group everyone was happy to see me and no one judged my appearance.  As my mom’s cancer continued to progress, I felt a lot of guilt that my treatment had been successful while hers had not. It was the facilitator of the Young Adult group who explained to me about survivor’s guilt and I have since sought counseling to help me with those feelings.

While my experience with cancer continues at times to overwhelm me, I know that I am not unique.  Thousands of young adults in the Northwest are diagnosed with cancer every year.  Cancer Lifeline provides over 800 support groups and educational classes free of charge.  For over 40 years they have relied on generous donors like you to make these services available to anyone who is dealing with cancer in their life.  Your contribution of $25 or more today will help fund Cancer Lifeline’s call-in Lifeline, their professionally facilitated support groups, or a class such as gentle yoga or nutrition to help relieve the side effects of cancer treatment.  Your contribution will help fund services for over 7,500 this year.

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