On my recent trip to Houston I met an amazing woman, Beth Sanders Moore. A ten year cancer survivor, Beth is the ultimate community leader. “Beth’s movement to the front of the global cancer community began over 20 years ago when she advanced from a grass-roots volunteer for Susan G. Komen Race for a Cure into a seat at the management table at that foundation’s corporate headquarters. A fundraiser of millions of dollars for cancer-related causes, Beth is perhaps most frequently associated with The Beth Sanders Moore Undiagnosed Breast Clinic and The Beth Sanders Moore Young Breast Cancer Survivors’ Program which are housed at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, where she was diagnosed, treated, and now, routinely examined.”
Beth has received more awards than there is sand in the ocean. Please check out this brilliant agent for change at http://www.cancerforward.org/About_Us/Forward_Thinkers/Founder/
and while you are at it, check out her blog www.cancerforwardblog.org , also brilliant. Well, she wrote about me so naturally I think that’s brilliant. Seriously, Beth realized early on that there is very little for the cancer survivor. Once you finish your chemo or radiation, you are cut loose without so much as a balloon. This is scary. Suddenly, you don’t see your medical providers any more and your questions go unanswered.
When I was in prison, after my radiation, I knew I was supposed to follow the protocol on a regular schedule to see either the radiologist or the oncologist. Didn’t happen. I waited and waited. My list of questions got longer. No one in the prison medical department had an answer. Finally, I started the formal grievance process that inmates have when they can’t get a straight answer. It took 19 months but at last I was allowed to speak to an oncologist by what the prison calls “tele-med.” I sat in front of a camera and met with a doctor at the hospital who was also in front of a camera. He didn’t have my chart and had no idea who I was. He couldn’t give me even a cursory exam or look at my chest. He stumbled through it and recommended a tumor marker test. It took the prison nine months before that happened. There is no question that my life is an absolute miracle.
I’ve never felt so disconnected. Suddenly, eight years later, I meet Beth and I am thrilled with her work for survivors. CancerForward: The Foundation for Cancer Survivors is a public charity whose mission is to connect, educate and share information among cancer survivors, empowering them to improve their day-to-day lives. Here is what their site says about their focus.
CancerForward exists as a free and unique web-based networking and educational resource for cancer survivors of all ages and all types of cancers. It was created to support the physical, emotional and practical living needs of more than 28 million cancer survivors. According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, no other not-for-profit entity currently provides its services on a comprehensive basis.
CancerForward’s web content is focused on first-hand, participant-based experience, current information from trained experts and guides, access to local resources, and aggregation of survivor data such as polls and statistical surveys. By design, the website embraces the now conventional definition of “survivors” and thereby serves those living with, through and beyond cancer diagnosis, along with family members, friends, and caregivers.
If you know anyone struggling, surviving, thriving with cancer survival, tell them to fret no more. Go to www.cancerforward.org and share your story and your wisdom, the wisdom you gained as a survivor.
My other recommendation is to pick up After Breast Cancer by Hester Hill Schnipper. A two time breast cancer survivor and oncology social worker, also with more awards than one can count, this book is the definitive book on what happens after the knives, the needles, and the burning. This is the book that answered my list of questions and I am forever grateful to her for sending it to me behind the wire. It is a treasure.
AND while you’re at it, please say a prayer for all those struggling with cancer behind bars. It is a terrifying and isolating battle. I know. This is in memory of Christine, Gina and all the others too numerous to mention. I miss you.