My cancer diagnosis caused my world to come crashing down almost 7 years ago. It had a profound effect on my husband and kids, their world came crashing down too. It was hard for all of us as a family. But I have seen many good things come of our experience.

When I began cancer advocacy, my kids struggled with it a bit. They wanted the word cancer out of our lives, they wanted to forget cancer. They didn’t want to talk about it, they wanted to leave cancer behind. Then they would come in my room and see me working on my appendix cancer web site. I was always emailing cancer patients and always talking to cancer patients on the phone. Cancer never seemed to be over. They wanted to support me, though, so they reluctantly let cancer remain a part of our household, they let it become part of our everyday lives.

In the end, though, they, like myself, have used the experience to the good. My kids have used our cancer story as a topic for speeches they’ve given in school. It’s been the subject of papers they’ve written. My daughter’s senior project this year involved her writing a chapter in a book her class published. She wrote the chapter about me and how I had used my difficult circumstance to make a positive difference, it was titled “More Than a Survivor”. I had a houseful of teens over tonight… they wanted to make appendix cancer awareness ribbons as part of a school Personal Impact Project. The ribbons they made will be distributed to specialists treating the disease all over the country. They spent their evening on my livingroom floor with glue guns and ribbons because they knew our story and wanted to make a difference. Notice the hundreds of amber ribbons on the newspaper.

We are very close, my kids and I, and we respect each other and can talk about anything. They tell me things I never would have told my mother as a teen. We have great talks. We make a point to spend one-on-one uninterrupted time together often, we don’t take each other for granted. My husband and I treasure time we get to spend together as a couple. My husband is able to help husbands of cancer patients he meets as a surgical nurse, he knows how they feel waiting for pathology reports. We are all better people with better perspectives because of the really difficult time we had together as a family. It was a really tough experience, but wasn’t all bad in the end. Good did come of it.