Often we find comfort in stories of others

Published 5:57 pm Saturday, October 20, 2018

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or years, I have been a part of writing for annual “Pink Editions,” which share stories about the struggle and devastation of breast cancer in local communities.

The process is gut wrenching for the subject and often for the writer, too.

As long as I live, I will never forget sitting in our conference room not long after coming to work in Vicksburg and interviewing Hugh Green about losing his wife, Joe Ann Blades Green, to breast cancer.

Mrs. Green died two days before the couple’s 50th wedding anniversary — on Nov. 4, 2010 — after a fight against cancer that lasted more than five years.

She had been gone almost five years when I met with Green, but his loss was still fresh and very much evident as he recounted her story.

I sobbed as he told it. I felt terrible for crying. He felt terrible, thinking he had made me cry. I don’t remember having done that before in an interview. I apologized over and over and assured him I was OK. My mother, who was 78 at the time, had recently been diagnosed with breast cancer. That, mixed with Green’s poignant grief, pushed me over the edge. And we wept together.

Cancer of all kinds is such a cruel and indiscriminate disease. It claimed my mother after a horrific year for her in 2016.

That’s why sharing stories like those in today’s newspaper are so important. Many take comfort in knowing they are not alone, that others have been through this dreaded disease and lived to tell about it. Often, in others’ stories, we learn new ways to cope.

Mostly, these stories remind us early detection is so important, and anything we can do to help others in their fight is worthwhile, needed.

On Feb. 9 after a hysterectomy at St. Dominic’s in Jackson, I was diagnosed with endometrial cancer.

I don’t mean to give too personal much information, but in the vain of perhaps helping someone who may be going through something similar, I experienced some bleeding in December 2017, years after my periods had ended.

I didn’t think anything of it, but my doctor told me several times that is something to watch for and to get to a gynecologist if it happens.

It didn’t last long, but I made an appointment because he had warned me about it.

I’m glad I did. Mine was caught early, before it had spread.

I am one of the lucky ones, so far at least. It was caught in the early stages, had not spread to any lymph nodes and I’ve had to have no other treatments. However, I will be seeing my gynecologic oncologist, Dr. Paul Seago, every three months for the next five years as he monitors me.

Even as fortunate as I have been, when you hear that you have cancer, it throws you for a loop. It certainly did me.

You can bet I won’t be missing any mammograms or colonoscopies in the future.

Breast cancer and other cancers for that matter do not always mean a death sentence. Schedule your mammogram. Take care of yourself. We’re all in this together.

Jan Griffey is general manager of The Vicksburg Post. You may reach her at jan.griffey@vicksburgpost.com.