We cannot say enough about the wonderful physical therapists that David has worked with during his recuperation from his surgery and as he progresses thru his treatment protocols. There are 3 therapists who work with David: Dawn, Tracy, and Nancy. Dawn is the therapist who is ‘in charge’ of his therapy program, but all three of these incredible ladies have had an enormous impact on David’s recovery to date. They work so well together and are always in sync when it comes to thinking outside of the box to address any or all of the physical issues that David has faced over the last few months. Each of them is totally invested in David’s physical recuperation, and they will stop at nothing to help him achieve his 2 stated goals: riding his bicycle again –
and playing his accordion again.
So when David began his first round of chemo with paclitaxel (sometimes called Taxol), one of the therapists talked with us at a therapy appointment about some of the side effects of Taxol and how they could interfere with David’s 2 stated goals. This therapist, Tracy, had a friend – Nancy- who had come up with a list of tips and tricks to help combat some of the more profound side effects of certain chemo drugs. Side effects such as the potential for developing neuropathy, mouth sores, and loss of fingernails and toenails, and bone pain. There are many other possible side effects, but these were the ones that Tracy thought might impact David’s long term ability to ride his bike and play his accordion. So Nancy, Tracy’s friend, had been thru 2 bouts of breast cancer and, as a result of her experiences, left her career and has started a non profit agency called Wig Out. Its primary goal is to help women who lose their hair while going thru cancer treatment by providing beautiful wigs for them to wear. There are many women who cannot afford a wig and who feel that, for professional and/or personal reasons, they need to face the world without shouting (by virtue of their lack of hair) I have cancer, I am in chemotherapy ,and I have no hair! Tracy, the therapist, gave David one of Nancy’s cards, and he emailed her right away. She responded, and this was the beginning of an amazing support dialogue between a survivor (Nancy) and a breast cancer patient in the midst of treatment (David). Setting aside the obvious differences between these two people , there has developed a wonderful relationship born from one person’s experience combined with another person’s need. David and Nancy have shared emails and phone calls on a regular basis. Sometimes Nancy would be so involved in the hard work of getting her non profit organization off the ground that it would be several days before she responded to David’s email. But she always did, and she always reached out as one friend would to another friend, offering encouragement and advice. It was Nancy who provided to David, in one of their early email exchanges, with that long list of tips, tricks, and coping mechanisms to aid in getting thru the chemo treatments without suffering from some of the long lasting or permanent after effects that these powerful drugs can sometimes leave behind. Those of you who have been thru chemotherapy can easily identify with the short term and sometimes long term miseries that are left in the wake of this powerful treatment protocol. David has put many of Nancy’s tips to use, which is why his fingernails and toenails are covered with black fingernail polish, and why his feet and hands are in ice and why he sucks on ice throughout each infusion. It’s why he takes Claritin when he suffers from bone pain. And many other things. Clearly, Nancy offers people much more than wigs…. .she offers support, hope, advice, and love . . . all from the perspective of a survivor.
Throughout the first 10 or 11 chemo infusions, David and Nancy corresponded thru email with an occasional phone conversation. David and I were both hoping for a chance to meet this lady who was giving so much of herself to help others get thru their cancer treatments. We (specifically David) have benefitted so much from her tips, her advice, her support……and we had never even met her ! Finally, one recent Wednesday while David was in the midst of his chemo infusion, we received an email from Nancy. She was in the hospital for her 18 month checkup and some other medical appointments, and she remembered that David’s infusion day was Wednesday. She asked if we were, by chance, in the hospital at that time also. I responded that we were and then gave her our location. Just as David’s infusion was finishing and the nurse was flushing his picc lines and shutting everything down, Nancy showed up at the foot of David’s bed.
Now we could put a face to a name and meet his gracious and gentle lady whose life purpose now is to help others get thru a difficult time. She wanted David to show off his black fingernails which, so far, are showing no signs of peeling or pulling out. And so he did !
I asked Nancy if I could publish some information on her non profit group as well as put her picture in our blog. She said yes to both, and so I am happy to be able to share with you a link to her newly formed non profit Wig Out. http://www.wigout.org
She shares her story on her website, and she talks about what inspired her to change the direction of her life. To me, her story is emblematic of the goodness that can be found in the hearts of people. It shows that the most important way to help others is one person at a time, one heart at a time, one hand reaching out to another hand – one hand at a time. It reminds me of something that Mother Teresa said: We cannot all do great things, but we can all do small things with great love. For those people that Nancy helps, including David and Clara Dudak, she is doing great things with great love.
Thank you, Nancy, for what you have done for us and are doing for others.