By Eric Larsen
Three words you never want to hear, “You have cancer.”
While we all know someone who has been affected by cancer, unless you’ve been directly connected to it, you never really know until you know. But it’s also not that hard to imagine, either. It’s dark and scary, and completely overwhelming. And that’s a good day. The bad ones are gut-wrenchingly devastating – both physically and mentally.
When I was diagnosed with Stage 3b Colorectal cancer in January of 2021, I had no idea the bulldozer of appointments, treatments, stress, and despair that would completely level my life. video
During 12 weeks of intensive chemotherapy, I was so weak, I didn’t have enough strength to carry an empty cardboard box across the room. At night, I would lay in bed and try not to throw up while listening to my wife and kids eat dinner and talk about their day. In those terrible moments, it felt like I was seeing the future play out in real time: my family’s life without me.
I managed the six weeks of radiation slightly better but later complications from a surgery to remove 14″ of my colon, left me bedridden for several months. There are more gruesome details about debilitating pain, sleepless nights, the toll it took on my relationship with my family and the utter darkness that hung over me, but no one really wants to hear all that.
To say that dealing with the many facets of cancer diagnosis, treatment and recovery is hard is complete understatement. It’s definitely not something that you can do alone which is why Living Journeys is such an important and vital organization to me and all the other cancer patients in the Gunnison Valley.
For starters, being self employed, when I stop moving, the money stops coming in. Living Journey’s helped defer travel costs during my myriad appointments.
Additionally, weekly meal and food drop-offs to my front door were vital nutritional supplements for both my family and me.
Dealing with the psychological fallout from cancer is a whole other story. Living Journeys’ support groups and family therapy sessions helped build back both my and our family’s spirit and mental health, a path that we are still on to this day.
And then there is the indescribable value of knowing that someone ‘has your back.’ Having cancer is like drowning, and neighbors, friends, and family aren’t always available to throw you a rope. It’s the deepest feeling of despair. Luckily, Living Journeys is a constant presence that is ALWAYS there to throw you a line.
It’s no small stretch to say that Living Journey’s helped save my life. It is a vital organization to this community and one that needs support. I know a small ‘thank you’ may not seem like much, but on behalf of my family and I and all the other cancer patients in the valley, ‘thank you’.