Brad and Patty Moomey, Kathy Graham
Breast CancerCaregiverOvarian Cancer
These three friends came together to share their stories. Each of them has a unique perspective on cancer, yet their lives are intertwined through the fight. Kathy is a survivor of breast cancer. She kept her new teaching job at the middle school and received a lot of support from the community, especially with receiving rides to the nearest cancer center, which is 60 miles away. Kathy met Patty and her husband Brad through a support group they started in the community. Patty was diagnosed with stage IV ovarian cancer six years ago. She’s been fighting it ever since with chemotherapy treatments – four bouts so far. Brad has supported her every step of the way, and even when doctors say there isn’t much time left, family is the biggest motivation to carry on.
Brad: Talking with fellow workers and other people in the community, towards the end of life or retirement, there are two biggest things that affect your life. One is retirement and the other is the loss of your spouse. And that hit me really hard. That’s when I hit the realization that things were as dire as they were. The cancer had progressed so rapidly through her body that it was going to be a real challenge and a good possibility that it wasn’t going to be a winning challenge, that anything was going to work for it. And that was a very difficult thing to overcome. But we did. She took the drugs well; she responded to the drugs. And six years later, we’re still here. We’re still here, and we’re here together. And that’s where I keep saying, the hope, the faith, and the love are the key factors.
Patty: I found out that the things I thought were important before just weren’t. If I didn’t have much time, I wanted to be with my family, my children, my husband, my grandchildren, and they were all pretty young when I was first diagnosed. They accepted it… We do have 2 sets of twins. I’d like to see them up and graduated and if it’s God’s will, I will, and if not, it’s in His hands. I don’t know when it’s gonna happen, but He knows what I like, and I still hope that there’s something here on earth that is meant for me to do.
Brad: Like she says, we’ve become closer together these last few years. Family became, not only with her, but our kids and our grandkids, more important. That’s probably the most important thing that we’ve come across.
Brad: When she was first diagnosed and we were sent back down here from Rapid City, she said two things to me. We got in the car and we left, because the doctor up there said, “There’s nothing more we can do for you.” I said, “It looks like we’re coming to an end.” I’m just open, and that’s the kind of person I am. She said two things: “Well, this is gonna cost a lot of money.”
Patty: Well there goes our life savings!
Brad: And then she said, “I’m gonna fight it.” And at that time, it just hit me and it has stuck in my head ever since, and that’s been over 6 years, that our quality together is very much more important than quantity, and it’s just that simple. My love for my wife is quality. That’s what keeps me going. And that sums it up to me. It’s quality, it’s faith, it’s hope, and it’s love.
Brad: I learned a lot about patience. That was a big thing. And the other big change that I realized in this is that you still make plans to do something. Well, how in the world could I plan a vacation in eight months, not knowing where we’re going to be with this situation? But I learned that you make plans anyways. And if you have to change them, you have to change them. It’s not that big a deal.
Brad: We’re involved in a support group here in town. It’s hard to get some people to come to that support group. I think a lot of people, when they’re first diagnosed, think they’re the only ones this happens to and we have to take care of it ourselves. It’s frustrating to me. Come to our support group. And it’s really great to have them come because they come once and they keep coming back. That’s a very key factor to help them out. Like Patty said, support. This is a nasty, nasty – they call it a disease, but it’s a nasty, nasty situation that happens to our bodies.
Patty: Sometimes people just need somebody to listen to them. Have open ears and a kind heart, big shoulders. And probably tears too.
Kathy: As soon as I found out there was a question, I told some people, “Put me in your prayer list.” And there’s no keeping a secret in a town this size. You put it on a prayer list, everybody’s going to know something’s up right off.
Patty: This community is very giving. It’s a good community to live in… The outpouring when I was first diagnosed was just unbelievable. People that I didn’t think knew me were calling and saying, “You’re on our prayer list at this church.” Quite honestly, I believe that’s what’s gotten me here now, is prayers. And if I’m standing on my soap box, I guess I am, but I believe that’s what’s gotten me here, plus the support and love of my family.
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