Maureen’s Story: How my family coped with cancer

Cancer is a jolt to any family’s whose loved one has been diagnosed with it.  

I was diagnosed with Appendix Cancer with Pseudomyxoma Peritonei in 2003. My husband's first reaction was denial.  He argued with the doctor about how this couldn't be true and he listed his reasons for denial.  While observing his reaction, I felt like I was having an out of body experience.  I felt like I was looking down at their discussion as an outsider.  My husband soon realized that, indeed I did have cancer. He and my sons became proactive by researching information on the internet. They discovered the PMP Pals’ Network, which lead me to Dr. Paul Sugarbaker.  Through the PMP Pals’ Network, I was introduced to my Pal Mentor, Mary Anne, who shared so much hope and encouragement with me.

I decided to write all my thoughts in a journal.  I was able to say things in my journal that I would not say out loud.  I faithfully wrote in it every day.  Some days it was mundane happenings of the day, but other days I expressed my thoughts and fears.  I didn't write it for anyone else but me.  I think writing about my feelings helped to keep me grounded.  

I also began a workout schedule to prepare for the big surgery.  I worked out with a trainer two days a week. She noticed when I felt “down” and would provide me with encouragement.

Our family doctor referred me to a wonderful therapist.  I saw her and she felt that I was dealing well with everything that I faced.  My husband saw her separately, as well.  I honestly feel that the care giver's role is extremely difficult and often overlooked.  

When one member of the family has cancer, it’s as if the entire family has cancer.  There were tough days that we shared together as a family. We didn't always get along and agree about everything.  We would have had those kinds of days even if I had not been diagnosed with PMP.

I could not have walked this journey without my husband and my kids.  They gave me the strength to be the fighter. I also feel that if a marriage is strong it will survive whatever is thrown at it.

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