A Simple Word

Jennifer P | Patient |

Family. A simple word, but a word with meaning beyond that. Family has a huge impact on the lives of cancer patients. Family can be supportive or

can make a difficult situation even more difficult.  I am lucky to have a large supportive family.  During my diagnosis, treatments and surgeries I always had positive people surrounding me. I was dealing with a tremendously stressful situation and I had the love and support from my family.

I never felt alone during my treatments. It was a lot less scary facing what was ahead of me when I knew how much love I had and how many people were praying for me and wishing me well. My cancer diagnosis was nine years ago and recently I found a box of cards and letters that were sent to me. I counted 150.  There were cards from co-workers, friends, friends of friends, and pictures drawn by my daughters kindergarten class. There letters and pictures made me remember how a simple card can make the difference in a person’s life.  When someone takes the time to send a card or write a letter it shows that they believe you will get better and that being sick is just a bump in the road. I also consider my fellow survivors a family – a family of fighters who no matter what never gave up.


  1. You are very lucky Jennifer.
    I wish I could say the same. I feel abandoned by my family adn most friends i can’t keep up with don’t bother. There are a few who are still with me. I just lost my brother to cancer. I don’t live near my extended family, but don’t seem to give a care. Of course I realize everyone has their own life , but it makes you wonder.
    I have a husband who is quite a bit older than I am and does the best he can , but he is not a caregiver int he true sense. My first husband died of ALS 3 years ago. My saving grace is my eldest son who now lives with us. Plus my youngest son has a big heart and a lot of family responsibilities. He does what he can. It’ s a lonely path…cancer.
    Looking for how to cope with it.

    KatyMorgan | | 5:26pm

  2. I am sorry you don’t have the same support system I had. It is a difficult path. I do count myself lucky, Since my diagnosis I had a brother and sister also diagnosed. Its a scary word and a scary disease. MGH is a great hospital you are in great hands!

    Jen | | 6:26pm

  3. Hi Jenifer, I’m very sorry to hear that your family is not around. I just lost my mom on Oct 4th at Mgh to lung cancer but she had more medical conditions. It was a schock when they told us in August. My mom was a huge fighter. You are also a fighter it comes from within. We were there all the time with my mom I slept there till she passed away. Her prognosis was not that good. The people that are in your life are the ones who are important. Reach out to them you need to talk the hospital staff there is unbelivable. They were there all the time. I know it can be lonley as I walked the hallways in the lunder building I could see the people who had there family there and the ones who didn’t . I would always take a minute to say hi how are you doing? And wish them a great day. Keep the faith and be strong . Family is what it is some are great and some not so great. Thankful to the ones you have. I will follow you. Take care and well. Darlene

    Darlene Naso | | 11:33pm

  4. I am not part of Mass general, but was diagnosed with breast cancer on 09/05/13. I have 2 great sons and a another young man and his wife that I consider as a son and daughter. Yet I feel that I am imposing on them. They have their lives to live with work and family and I just do not want to burden them with all this. They are all good people and will do anything I ask but I feel so guilty. I have always been pretty much a loner taught that I should handle my own affairs. I grew up as a housekeepers daughter and was not allowed to ask for help, you manage alone. So now I have this dilemma. I am afraid if I burden them too much they will shy away. I am really afraid to be alone yet here I am staying away because I think they need their space. I know they love me but I am scared to over burden that love and loose it.

    Ana | | 7:49am

  5. I wax diagnosed 05/28/13 with a rare form of cancer. My world and the way I viewed it stopped. I too am a very independent person and my first thought “ok I can do this alone I’ve got it!” But a dear friend said “forget it!” So I started a support phone list made the calls and so many came through. Sure I get to feeling guilty but that is old thinking and its amazing how folks do want to be there to help. It makes them feel good and I guess its a wake up call. Maybe closer to.the God of my understanding. Today I am grateful for everything..good & hard times. Just doing the best I can to stay out of unhealthy fear and cheer up. Happy holidays to all!

    Grace | | 1:47am

  6. I got cancer ovarian over four years ago my mom been my biggest cheerleader , besides my son who stays with me I can say that it has strengthen my faith I would not try to do it by their selfs I am a amiable to anyone that needs a friend to talk to I live in NC. UNC Chapel Hill is trying to save my life

    Amber Taylor | | 3:57pm

  7. I was devastated when my first born and only son told us that he had a rare cancer. Tom is his name and this affected our close happy family like nothing else in this world. Our children are special people. Tom took piano lessons and played because he loved it so. The middle child is a cc nurse and the 3rd is a world class figure skater and toured the world with Disney. The children care about each other and were so saddened by Tom’s illness and death. Their brother was always there for them and parents too. The holidays have never been the same since Tom left us 22 yrs ago at age 35. We all continue to mourn our loss. Like they say, the family that plays together, stays together. Tom was married and his children were 3 and 5 when he left. We as a family continue to stay together even through thick and thin. There have been some rough times in our lives but continue to grow, Me, life without one of my children has been a big challenge, a nightmare.
    Once I realized that the family depended on me, my suicidal thoughts went away. We lost the father of this group 4 yrs ago after 61 yrs of marriage. We are, 2 children, 5 grandsons, 1 great grandson and a mom. We will stick together because we are family. We love and support each other as we have always have done. Nothing has changed except for missing our beautiful Tom, our first born and our father. Nothing in this world impacts like the death of your own child. We expect someday to lose our parents but that hole will close,
    with the child, the hole stays open forever, it is a wound that never heals. I am not afraid of death, I know I will leave my family in good hands because they love and care about each other.

    Shirley | | 11:57am

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