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Living With a Crisis

September 15, 1985

I would like to thank Allan Parachini for his article, "Cancer Survivors: Coping With Life" (Sept. 1). Cancer is a life-threatening illness, but not necessarily a terminal one. As was stated in the article, cancer patients are surviving their illnesses more than ever before. And society needs to take a closer look at that fact, and how patients need to be treated as people living with a crisis, but living nonetheless.

Last year, in my eighth month of pregnancy, I was diagnosed as having a highly malignant cancer for which I underwent extensive and disabling surgery following the birth of my son. Because my tumor has a high propensity to spread and recur and because it is not responsive to chemotherapeutic treatment and is highly insensitive to radiation, radical surgery was to be the course of treatment with periodic follow-up tests.

Yes, I am living with uncertainty. I have had two "false alarms" since my surgery and I am monitored closely. My prognosis is sketchy. I am living with a crisis, but I am living! And I will continue to remain optimistic about my future and concentrate on my plans and goals in spite of those who feel I shouldn't be "wasting my time."

People usually use ignorance to hide their fear. I believe education is the only way of overcoming this ignorance, which creates discrimination not only in the workplace but among family and friends as well. Cancer patients are people too. There are times when we need the help of others (after surgery, during treatments, follow-up, etc.) to provide assistance not only for us but our families as well.

There are times when we are truly unable to bear this burden alone, and need understanding from those in our lives around us. But we don't like being treated like invalids. We enjoy our lives and we are still the same individuals we were prior to our diagnosis.

We have our ups and downs like anyone else, and we surely want to live as normally as we possibly can on our road to recovery.

ELIZABETH S. OSBURN

Canoga Park

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