Sue's Victor Story

Bonnie Schuman
Last Modified: May 25, 1997

Three little words brought me to The Wellness Community -- PROGNOSIS SO POOR. I had been through the worst of it. At thirty-two, I had a bilateral mastectomy and four months of aggressive chemotherapy. Now, cancer free, I returned to work with all of it behind me -- until I read a report the radiologist sent to my surgeon in which she said, ... "prognosis so poor, it doesn't matter if it's a lumpectomy or mastectomy." Those three words sent me into depression and severe anxiety about dying. No longer in treatment, I felt that no one was doing anything to save me. In my panic I remembered reading Gilda Radner's book in which she spoke highly of The Wellness Community during her battle with cancer. Immediately, I called and attended a drop-in Orientation Meeting. When I walked into that meeting, I felt alone and frightened. In no time at all, I was comfortable and struck by how people were reaching out to help me. Knowing I needed this place, I immediately joined an on-going Participant Group. It was frightening for me, as I had never been around anyone who was dealing with a chronic disease or dying -- my greatest fear. From the first time I came to group, they helped me bring this fear out and deal with it. And that changed everything for me. I always thought death was something that paralyzed you with terror. But at The Wellness Community I met people who were dying and maintaining their quality of life. It calmed me to know that even if I am going to die -- you can be sure that I'm going to live as long as I'm alive. And, once I was able to conquer that hurdle, I put my life back together and moved on.

Today my career is progressing. I have renewed a relationship with my high school boyfriend, John, who was wonderfully supportive when I shared with him all the issues around my cancer. Everything was perfect -- until a stiff neck and some hip pain led to the devastating diagnosis of a metastasis. Two days and nights I cried. On the morning of the third day, I woke up and said, "Wait a minute. I am not ready to die yet." I thought of all the people I met at The Wellness Community in various stages of the disease and realized I'm going to get through this, and then I'm going to move on with my life." The doctors gave me a 20% chance, AND I'm going for that 20%.

I have returned to The Wellness Community and am doing well emotionally. Once again, I've found the support I need to move forward, get through treatment, get through baldness, get through the bone marrow transplant that awaits me, and finally get on to my future.



Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week
by Karen Arnold-Korzeniowski, BSN, RN
April 10, 2016