Coping with Cancer: Words of wisdom from those who’ve lived it and those who treat it

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — In this health special, we tackled a topic we’re all likely to face during our lifetime. Whether it’s you or someone you love, most of us will eventually be forced to learn how to cope with cancer. And that’s especially true if you live in the Rochester area.

Recent statistics from the CDC compiled by Doximity, a professional medical network organization, reveal that the Flower City has the third-highest rates of breast and lung cancer in the country. In Monroe County every year almost 700 women hear the words, “You have breast cancer” I was one of them.

I faced my fourth cancer fight in 2018 and just finished treatment in August 2020 I had chemotherapy, surgery, radiation, more chemotherapy, then a year-long clinical trial. While my path to healing was longer than most, nearly all of us are in treatment for the better part of a year.

Our guests for the health special were Sheila Searles-Fairey, a five-year breast cancer survivor, Juanita Cunningham-Holt, who was just diagnosed in September of this year, and Holly Anderson, Executive Director of the Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester.

Asked about the greatest source of support during her breast cancer battle, Searles-Fairey said her husband. The two were best friends, and he allowed her to experience the roller coaster of emotions that come with the diagnosis, while still providing being a pillar of support.

His death in 2018 was devastating, and she says the Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester was her lifeline.

BCCR provides a wide range of services for women facing breast or gynecological cancer and also is a valuable resource in connecting women with community support. Click here and scroll to the bottom of the page for BCCR’s list of community support resources.

Juanita Cunningham-Holt was scheduled to have her first chemotherapy session just days after the taping of the show. She vowed to get involved with community organizations in which she could be supported by others with breast cancer.

Dr. Jonathon Friedberg, director of the Wilmot Cancer Institute, joined me for the second half of the program to talk about clinical trials. He stressed the fact that trials adhere to a strict code of ethics, and cancer patients in a trial would never be denied treatment. If you’d like to learn more about available clinical trials, click here.

The National Cancer Institute is currently studying COVID-19’s effect on patients in cancer treatment. If you’re being treated for cancer and have contracted COVID-19, you can learn more about the study here.

Turn to News10NBC at 7:30 p.m. for half-hour specials every night through Oct. 9. Click here if to watch other Health & Wellness Week specials.