I am a cancer survivor! That day in my doctor’s office I heard the words, “Juan, you have CANCER.” I was numb. How could that be possible?
The word CANCER shocked me, and my family. If we had not found the Cancer Support Community of Philadelphia (CSCP), I cannot imagine where I might be today. I am eternally grateful. If I can help this amazing organization and other people with similar stories, it is the least I can do.
I was born in Puerto Rico and came to Philadelphia with my family when I was four years old. I graduated from Temple University and spent 27 years working for SEPTA, starting as a bus driver and ending up as Assistant General Manager of the company . I had a wonderful life and a beautiful family! Then in 2008, I was diagnosed with gastric cancer. I had five rounds each of chemotherapy and radiation, plus surgery that removed 25% of my stomach and 85% of my esophagus. All of this left me physically debilitated, depressed, and anxiety-ridden. I could no longer work. I withdrew from family and friends; I withdrew from life.
Finally, my wife, Ann, insisted that I attend a support group at CSCP. She attended a caregivers’ group. My professionally-led support group helped me realize that I may have cancer, but cancer does not have me. I am not alone. I have participated in many different programs at CSCP. I am currently working to rebuild my body, so I have joined the CSCP Dragon Boat Team. I have a new career in photography and have had shows to benefit CSCP. Thanks to the Cancer Support Community of Philadelphia, I have my life back!
The CSCP has sustained a community for people affected by cancer at no cost to participants like me for nearly 20 years. One in two people will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. Three in four families will care for a family member with cancer. There have been dramatic advancements in the physical treatment of cancer by our medical system over those years, but the emotional experience remains largely unchanged. The CSCP has been steadfast in its mission to provide free, professional, evidence-based programs of support, education and hope, so that no one ever has to face cancer alone.
Won’t you consider making a contribution to the Annual Appeal this year? I know firsthand, as do you, that every gift makes a difference, no matter how much it is. Thanks for enhancing the CSCP community and considering a donation to the Annual Appeal, so that no one faces cancer alone.
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