What Cornucopia has meant to me
I first heard about Cornucopia in 2009 through a friend at church who was getting treatments for Leukemia. My initial participation was in the gentle yoga sessions and massage treatments. I was working s n activity associate at a nursing home in 2008 when I noticed some bloody discharge from my left breast and was soon diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ. They called it stage 0 cancer, which was reassuring to me at the time, but the only treatment they recommended was a single mastectomy. I was pretty devastated. Apart from my husband and kids all my family lived in Canada. I took eight weeks time off work for the surgery and then had n implant and breast lift, which required more time off. I eventually lost my job because I couldn’t keep up the pace. I found a part-time job s a companion at much less pay, but even that was hard to manage with my fatigue and anxiety. A year and a half later they discovered cancer in my right breast through a mammography. I had a lumpectomy and then a mastectomy, when they found the margins of the second surgery weren’t clear. I was put on the drug Herceptin and given three months of Taxol chemotherapy. I was grateful for the services at Cornucopia at that time. I tried Reike treatments with Sandi and started piecing together my life. Sometimes we d spend the whole 45 minutes with me talking and crying and didn’t even get onto the table. I have two children with autism, and had to put one of them in n institution in Virginia while we moved out of our home to a small townhouse because of our financial problems. When my hair fell out I was very grateful and uplifted by the variety of free hats and scarves I could choose from at Cornucopia. I also borrowed books to understand what I was going through and what I could do to help myself.
A year after I d finished all treatment, in November of 2011 my oncologist discovered a lump in my neck. I was immediately sent to another room to have a biopsy and the news was bad. My cancer had metastasized to my lymph system. I now had stage 4 cancer. I had my port put in again, which resulted in a collapsed implant, and more surgery and two drugs were tried. They seemed to work at first, but nine months later things were getting worse. At the beginning of 2012 arrived at Cornucopia for yoga but had the wrong time in my head. There was, however a stage 4 cancer support group just about to start so I decided to stop by. For the next year they were my lifeline. My cancer spread to my ribs and back, causing unbelievable pain and I had a disk collapse after undergoing radiation. My back was badly burned by the radiation so I had to have a rib cut in order for the surgeon to go through my side to repair it. I was put on a new drug, Kadcyla and then at a return visit discovered my left knee replacement had failed and needed to be taken out and replaced. Somewhere in there I was hospitalized for an unrelenting fever and when I got home I developed shingles. I was unable to eat, horribly depressed, having panic attacks and nightmares and began losing weight at an alarming rate. During this time I went to see a doctor at Duke Integrative Medicine and she told me acupuncture might help. Through Cornucopia I was able to get several free treatments to help my appetite and lower the pain in my back. y January of 2014 I started gaining weight again. First a pound a month, then two. I was ~ d when several of my friends from the advanced cancer support group passed away. I eventually found it hard to continue with the group because the bitterness of some of the newer participants was causing me to become depressed, but I remain friends with one member who is also doing well now. Through Cornucopia s peer support program I got to meet Doris Ann Price, who remains a good friend and mentor. She told me about the Duke yoga retreats and I met more new friends there.
I’m happy to say I m having a good quality of life with my cancer in a remission-like state. I continue Kadcyla treatments every three weeks and continue to participate in many of Cornucopia s services, including crafts, massages and Reike. I am deeply grateful for their services over the past seven years. The staff and volunteers here are wonderful!