A Day in The Life of a Cancer Fighter
Cancer… the “Big C”… a demanding disease that impacts about 1.7 million Americans each year (American Cancer Society, 2022)
Most of us have been impacted by cancer in some way, whether it be directly, per a family member or having just seen its impact online or on TV. Regardless, around 40% of people in the United States are diagnosed with some type of cancer at a variety of stages.
So, even if you don’t know someone directly, it’s important that we gain a better understanding of the challenges 40% of Americans face annually.
Angie Garrett joined our Tenaciously Teal family after she was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in 2022, at 50 years old. We first met her at her Brave Shave event hosted at our office. The Brave Shave gave Anige and her family the opportunity to feel confident and empowered with the choice to shave her head before it fell out from chemo treatments.
“I went into the event a complete stranger to Tarah and all her amazing volunteers,” Angie said. “They proceeded to glam me up and lift me up in a way that I never saw coming! The experience was at the beginning of my chemo journey and made me feel so powerful and strong. I looked in the mirror after my friends, family and a hair stylist shaved my head, and I actually loved what I saw. I felt beautiful and so emotional for all they had done!”
What Does a Day of Cancer Treatment Look Like?
Angie’s energy is infectious, and we’ve loved getting to know her. For that reason, we asked her to tell us a bit about her story as a cancer patient, highlighting what a day in the life of cancer treatment looks like. We hope you’ll take the time to read her story so we can all better understand the challenges our friends, family and neighbors tackle daily.
“Typically, I have to be at the cancer center two hours before my chemo infusion begins to get labs done,” Angie said. “My labs give them all my numbers right before treatment so they can make sure I’m healthy enough for chemo that day. Most of the time, following labs, I have an appointment with my oncologist for a quick check up and to learn any new information. Then, it’s time to go to the infusion lab. Chemo itself usually takes around 5 hours and then they insert the Neulasta pod and I go home. All in all, it’s a 7 hour ordeal.”
While every patient doesn’t have the same chemotherapy treatment cycle, most people can expect to receive chemo on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Cancer fighters typically receive chemo on an on/off cycle, meaning they will receive it for a few days/weeks at a time, then they will take some time off in order to let their bodies recoup. That being said, treatment is exhausting. It takes up a lot of time (7 hours in Angie’s case!), and you unfortunately are not home free when you’re “off the clock.”
“I usually don’t start feeling the side effects until the Neulasta pod kicks in 27 hours after chemo,” Angie said. “That means I can take myself to treatment and drive home while still feeling pretty good. It surprises me because I thought my symptoms would start right away. Unfortunately, I think the hardest part is that it’s never predictable. I don’t always have my worst day on the same day and sometimes my symptoms seem to come one at a time, causing me to feel lousy longer.”
What Can We Do?
While it is important that we do our best to empathize with our loved ones who are battling cancer, it is also important that we know that we will never truly understand what another person is going through.
“I feel like the way cancer is imagined by others is rarely the way it looks for an individual. Symptoms can vary widely and often and it’s pretty unpredictable. I struggle the most with how little energy I have and how utterly exhausted I feel. Life has to take a back seat for a while and I really have to rely on others to help me get the everyday stuff taken care of. Cancer really humbles you. It constantly reminds you that you’re sick and sometimes just can’t do the things you used to take for granted.”
At Tenaciously Teal, we’re dedicated to learning, educating, listening and supporting each person that walks through our doors. It’s impossible to fully know each person’s unique battles. But, we can do our best. And, we can use what we do know to help those that need it.
The Power of Care Packs
As Angie mentioned, many cancer patients struggle with exhaustion. It is hard to feel comfortable and strong. So, we’ve created care packs for cancer patients filled with day-to-day items that Tarah, our founder, and other cancer patients have found helpful.
“You tend to feel really lost when you get a cancer diagnosis,” Angie said. “These care packs give you a sense of control that you are at least a little bit more prepared than you were before. They are like little love bombs from strangers and it truly restores your faith in humanity to know someone donated and assembled it with love in their hearts for a perfect stranger. There’s nothing like that feeling when facing something like Cancer… The Big C!”
Testimonials like Angie’s reassure us that our collective hard work makes a difference in the lives of others.
“What can I possibly say to show my gratitude and awe for this organization and its founder, Tarah? She is pure love and sass and empathy and strength rolled up into one amazing human! In my eyes and SO MANY others she is a true superhero!”
Share Your Story
If you or someone you love is struggling with cancer, remember that you aren’t alone, and there are plenty of people out there ready to help you, including our team at Tenaciously Teal.
“If you’ve been diagnosed, reach out for help! There are so many people who want to help you through this journey because they or someone they love has faced it. I’ve learned to not be afraid to ask for help because when I look inside myself I truly want to help. That phrase ‘let me know if you need anything’ isn’t an empty nicety! It is someone telling you they want to help you on your journey but don’t know exactly how! I feel honored when someone tells me exactly how I can help because then I know I’ve shown my love in a helpful way and I feel less helpless when faced with their crisis.”
If you know someone who needs help, order them a care pack as an act of encouragement and acknowledgement. It’s easy to feel guilty for not knowing how to help, but sometimes the little things mean the most. A care pack will refresh their inventory of cancer patient essentials, and remind them that they have a team of supporters on their side.
If you would like to hear more stories from our Tenaciously Teal family, visit our website. If you would like to share your own experience, we’d love to hear from you! We can all learn from your distinctive experiences.