Cancer survivor shares story of hope
Terry Berg knows how devastating a cancer diagnosis can be. First diagnosed with breast cancer in 1993, she was scared. It may be hard to believe, but there was little information known about the disease and treatment options at the time. She needed support to beat the disease, and when she couldn’t find it, she created a cancer support group with a friend.
Fast forward 21 years and a breast cancer recurrence, she is a survivor and inspiration to many. She now belongs to a St. Luke’s Regional Cancer Center support group, and she explains, “I am lucky to have the experience of going through cancer with others. We are survivors, and we are fighting the disease with dignity, bravery, and humor.”
“Terry is an inspiration as she embodies what survivorship is, and I am honored to work with patients like her,” said Dr. Anne Silva-Benedict, oncologist at St. Luke’s Regional Cancer Center. She explains, “Survivorship begins with the cancer diagnosis, living with it, treatment, and beyond. At St. Luke’s Regional Cancer Center, we are partners with our patients, always listening to them, helping them understand their therapy options and giving them the knowledge to make informed decisions.”
While cancer treatments can leave one feeling physically exhausted, the emotional challenges often times are greater and present even bigger challenges. Berg, who is currently undergoing infusion therapy, knows these side effects well. “I have been frustrated at times with the inability to be as active as I’ve always been,” said Berg. “I have occasionally gotten discouraged and thought to myself, ‘what if this is what I will always feel like?’” Those are the times when the support group is an essential part of her survivorship. “The support group attendees have become some of my dearest friends,” said Berg. “I don’t know what I would have done without them. I always leave the support group more optimistic than when I came.”
To teach people about cancer and survivorship, St. Luke’s Regional Cancer Center is hosting an Understanding Cancer: Survivorship Lecture Series for patients, family members, and anyone interested in learning more about cancer and cancer treatment. The first quarterly lecture, Chemotherapy’s Impact: How It Affects the Body and Mind, runs 5:30-7 p.m. Tuesday in the St. Luke’s Hospital Auditorium, with a light dinner served at 5. Dr. Silva-Benedict will be speaking about short and long-term effects of survivorship, and Deb Viner, St. Luke’s Licensed Psychologist, will be discussing how chemotherapy affects mental health. The lecture is followed by a question and answer session.
Berg encourages people to attend to become informed about cancer and treatment options as well as to realize you don’t have to live in fear.
“Cancer can be scary, but it becomes less scary when you are informed,” said Berg.