Helaine describes herself as an outgoing person, who loves to socialize and spend time with people. So when she was diagnosed with Stage III endometrial adenocarcinoma (the most common type of uterine cancer), she knew she needed to find someone she could talk to openly about her experience.
She found the support she needed through CancerCare’s free individual counseling and online support groups. “I hoped I’d find someone to talk to who really understands what having cancer is like,” she says. “And that’s exactly what I got at CancerCare.”
Helaine was diagnosed with uterine cancer in June 2017. She says it was “an ‘OMG’ moment.” “I was asking myself, ‘Is this really happening?’ I was with my husband when I got the call, and we were stunned to hear that what we thought was menopause was actually cancer. We knew we had a journey in front of us, and we were going to hit it head on, together.”
She learned about CancerCare through a family member who had previously been involved with the organization’s Ridgewood, NJ office. Helaine reached out for support, and had her first counseling session with an oncology social worker around Christmas.
“My social worker suggested I try to journal and make lists, to keep me from feeling too overwhelmed. She’d remind me not to be so hard on myself. Most importantly, she gave me a space to just talk about what was going on. That’s where I needed help most – needing to vent but not wanting to burden someone else.”
Helaine also joined an online support group for people coping with gynecologic cancers. Connecting with other people in similar situations helped her feel less alone, and also provided her with a source of practical advice. “I love how CancerCare breaks the groups down by diagnosis, so that there was a separate group for people who were going through what I went through,” she says. “You’re reading, and you’re like – oh my God, I did that! I went through that! I can reach out and ask these ladies about really specific things, and they’ll know what I’m talking about.”
“The answers I got were amazing. I didn’t think that other people went through the same thing to such a degree, but they have, and they’re willing to talk about it. It’s very moving, and very brave. I just signed up for a second cycle.”
For other people who are coping with cancer, Helaine wants to impart a message of hope. She also wants others to know that help is out there. “Take advantage of every resource that comes your way, and don’t be afraid to reach out for support. You’ve got nothing to lose by taking that chance. Don’t lose hope.”
Having finished her cancer treatment, Helaine is adjusting to her new normal and rediscovering the things she loves. “I work as an administrative assistant. I love dancing, I love music. My husband and I try to see concerts as much as possible.”
She credits CancerCare for helping her keep sight of what’s important to her: “CancerCare made me feel human. You made me feel like cancer was part of my story, and not all of who I am.”