Carol's Story

Bonnie Schuman
Last Modified: May 25, 1997

I'm Carol, a wife, a mother, a teacher and counselor. Now, I'm also Carol, with cancer. I used to dissolve at that thought. But, by coming to The Wellness Community, I have discovered that there can be a life -- with cancer -- and without despair. It's true that right now I have a lot less energy, but I am still living a full life. At The Wellness Community, I have learned to look for rainbows every hour -- and to find them.

 Three years ago I was diagnosed with melanoma. After surgery and six weeks of radiation, I believed I was cured. But, twenty two months later, it became metastatic melanoma, with tumors that had spread to some internal organs. After surgery, I needed help getting through the upcoming six months of chemotherapy and interferon treatments. At my parents suggestion, I attended an Orientation meeting at The Wellness Community, which I cried all the way through. Being in the mental health-care field, and knowing the positive statistics about cancer patients who participate in groups with other cancer patients, I immediately joined a support group. That group has become my weekly "life boat." It is a resource that is always there for me. When I have been given bad news, after the tears, I have called someone from group, someone who knows what it's like to be told you have cancer in your liver, someone who knows the grief of a recurrence. This has been a tremendous source of comfort for me. It was in group that I learned to accept that I have cancer and that acceptance is not resignation.

 With the encouragement of my group, I have become the 5th person to join a clinical trial of gene therapy vaccines. I have many things yet to do in my life: to hold a grandchild in my arms; to hear music in Vienna; to walk in the mountains with my husband. And, if this treatment does not work, I will try something else -- because I have no doubt that I am going to beat cancer.