The Gift of Understanding during Chemotherapy and Cancer Treatment

In my darkest hours of Chemotherapy,  God brought me those rare individuals who really knew and understood the depths of what I was enduring.  Those days and people are so important to me,they are permanently etched on my mind.  I pray that if you are going through Chemotherapy, God brings you the right people to uplift your spirits and give you hope.

1)  Dr. Daniel F. Hayes, M. D. my Oncologist at the University of Michigan: I told Dr. Hayes that I couldn’t continue Chemotherapy when I was about 6 weeks into 22 weeks of Chemo.  It was too difficult and challenging I told him, and I would rather die.  He told me that he wouldn’t let me.  I told him I had no control over my life.  He said that’s because he controls my life.  Then he sat down with me, held my hand in a doctorly fashion, and proceeded to give me understanding by telling me how amazing I have done, how brave I am, and how challenging this road is.  He then told me about a friend of his who endured Adriamiacyn Chemotherapy in the early days before nausea meds.  Then he had me laughing.  When I left his office, I cried and knew I had the courage to continue.  I am so blessed to have such a wise Oncologist.

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2)  Ellen, the elderly lady in the Ladies Restroom at Chemo Infusion Area. I held the door open for her going into the Ladies Restroom.  We both were wheeling around intravenous infusion drugs with those awkward tall, metal hooks with wheels and hanging drugs. We were both trying to maneuver in the tight space in the bathrooms.  I asked Ellen if she was getting Chemo.  She told me no,  she was receiving bone strengthening drugs.  Then Ellen started telling me her story.  Ellen said she was 83 years old.   She told me to never give up.  She then told me she was diagnosed with Stage IV Breast Cancer and had been given less than 6 months to live.  Then she came to the University of Michigan.  She has been alive 9 years.  She then told me she knows how hard it is, how difficult and challenging the road is, and how lonely it can be.   I started crying in her midst.  But Ellen gave me the gift of hope.

3) Nancy in Chemo area. I will never forget Nancy.  Nancy sat next to me in Chemo. You couldn’t help but talk to Nancy.  Nancy told me she was given less than 4 months to live because of Stage IV Breast Cancer.  She came to the University of Michigan hoping to live a little longer.  It is now 19 years later !  Nancy is still going strong living with Stage IV cancer.  On the day I met Nancy, she was telling the chemo nurses what to do and how to do it!  She gave me a pep talk like I had never had before, and in the midst of the cheerleading, told me the painful realities of never giving up!    She shared her other trials like her husband leaving her.  She found the positive in all of it, yet gave me compassion, strength and understanding.

4) Dr. Wayne Court, M.D. Toledothe University of Michigan told me I could receive radiation in Toledo.  When I got to Toledo St. Anne’s and met Dr. Court, I knew I was in the right place.  Dr. Court was so kind and understanding.  He clearly outlined all that I had been through, and although he was doing his job, he did it well.  Compassion can’t be faked.  Dr. Court had genuine compassion and gave me the courage to go on with Radiation Therapy.

5)  The nameless young woman in the Chemo Infusion Area, only 28 years old, who had been given less than 6 months to live when she was 21 years old.  She had been misdiagnosed with back trouble, until the Breast Cancer ate through her spine.  She interviewed several Oncologists and chose Dr. Hayes, my Oncologist.  She has been alive 7 years now with Stage IV.  She and her husband were leaving the next day after Chemo to visit her grandmother in Florida.  This young woman gave me much encouragement and many tips to keep going.   When she left, I realized I didn’t know her name.   But I will never forget her!

6)  Amanda was a woman I also met in the Chemo Infusion Area.  Amanda was going through Adriamycin Cytoxan Chemo, and I had moved on to Taxol.  Amanda was very ill and having a rough time of it.  I tried to give her understanding and encouragement.  Then she told me she was training to swim the English Channel in a relay to raise money for Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS).  She was training while going through Chemo. On her good days she would go to the pool and train.  I told her I couldn’t even walk to my mailbox!  On July 27, 2012, just 3 weeks out from her last Chemo treatment, Amanda and her teammates swam the English Channel and set a new world record!!!

I cherish each and every one of these special people who were brought to me at just the right moments.  I know such inspirational people will be brought to you as well.  Don’t be afraid to talk with strangers.  Angels appear when you need them the most.



  1. Beautiful! The Angels in our lives are often overlooked if we are too focused on ourselves. Cancer has opened my eyes to so much around me and I look forward to seeing all the God moments that are yet to come!

  2. Enjoyed reading this – can tell you get it – I just finished chemo six weeks ago – so much to write – your site is my first time delving into a breast cancer site – was too scared to read anything – it feels safe here. I read some of the other pages.

    • Hi Jennifer, thanks for stopping in. I have tried to make it a safe place and
      just tell the truth based on my experiences. I was like the biggest medical
      sissy ever, so if I could do it I wanted to let others know they could!
      I have written about every aspect of treatment plus all the emotional stuff.
      Do you have to do rads? My best, Denise

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