Family. They come through for you — sometimes, even in the face of a Covid pandemic.
When Jeanne first was diagnosed with cancer and required surgery, two of her brothers and one of her sisters were able to make the trek to Sioux Falls to be with her. It was nice having them there, she said. Because the rest of her cancer experience “really stunk.”
She felt alone. There wasn’t much support — until a friend shared a link to A Time to Heal.
“ATTH and Survivorship 101 has been a godsend,” Jeanne said.
“Survivorship 101 is like a family, all those people together,” Jeanne said. “The class facilitator, Tamara was so full of information and resources! Wow! I don’t feel like I’m going in the dark, by myself.
“I’m glad some of us have decided we’d like keep in touch because they’re further ahead [in their cancer journey] than I am. I’d like to ask them … have you got your equilibrium back? It’s like a support family even though we zoom.”
Jeanne also had support from her sister, Donna, who phoned every night for six months after Jeanne’s diagnosis. “Jeanne was telling me about this group, and others being on the Zoom call with their support person,” Donna said. “And she told me, ‘I don’t have a support person.’ “How supportive does that person have to be,” I asked her. “Does emotional support count? ‘Of course it does,’ she told me. C’mon!'”
They partnered in the Survivorship 101 Zoom class even though they were 1,800 miles apart.
“I feel so much closer to Jeanne because we did this together. It was a remarkable experience hearing what Jeanne has gone through. Even though I’d already heard it on the phone, it was different hearing it in group.” “It was good for me, too” Donna says. “I feel good about the support I gave. Sometimes with caregivers there is an opportunity to feel sorry for yourself,” she said. “Or to think, I’m such a wonderful person for doing this.” But, the other support people were really impressive, she added, laughing. “So, you really do kind of feel, I should really step up to the plate and do a good job!”
Both Jeanne and Donna have experience in training and facilitating, and both sing the praises of Tamara, their class facilitator. “You don’t have to talk if you don’t want to,” Jeanne said. “But Tamara encourages. After a few weeks, she called on each one of us, which is good because, we could just sit there and not say anything, but then we lose something as other participants because you didn’t share. And they lose because we didn’t share.”
“I was impressed with the professionalism of everything, ” Donna said. “As a facilitator/trainer its difficult for me sometimes. But I was able to get out of my professional head and participate because everything was done so professionally. ”
After participating in Survivorship 101, Jeanne said she’s learned about remaining calm. When work gets her down, she uses relaxation and visualization to help her find “her happy place.” It’s been especially helpful during the pandemic. “I find music that helps keep me calm. It’s the tranquility that I need to keep with me all the time. I also remember the gratitude.”
For Jeanne’s sister Donna, who participated from Florida, it was meditation and gratitude, including a gratitude app she learned about in class and has put on her phone. “I know when you can list three things you are grateful for each day, you are a happier person.”
There’s always more to learn, Jeanne says, and she casually mentions that maybe she’ll take the class again. “You want to take it again?” Donna asks. “I’ll do it again with you!”
“It just helped a lot,” Jeanne said. You learn from the experience of others. “You can see there is progress. There is hope. You’re not alone. It’s so important for us to heal and feel good about ourselves — and to say there is hope.”