Everyone has a story to tell

Storybook

Students who have sat in my English classes over the past seventeen years have heard me make this statement repeatedly. And although it is true regarding the literature that we study, the “everyone” I am usually referring to is the students in the class. One of the reasons why I chose to teach English is because it connects so much to our daily lives. Even though a story might be a piece of fiction, it speaks to the human condition, situations and emotions that all humans can relate to whether you lived in Shakespeare’s time or in 2011. Knowing someone else’s story – in the form of fiction or non-fiction or the quiet student sitting a row over in English class is essential in getting through life as it allows us to connect with people, to realize that we all have struggles and challenges, that we have so much in common if we just listen to one another’s story.

And through the challenges my family and I have faced, I have seen how powerful “telling the story” can be. Since our family has been dealing with stomach cancer and our genetic mutation, we have been interviewed by a number of print and broadcast journalists; we have spoken at colleges that have programs for future genetic counselors and other medical professionals. In fact, we ended up speaking at one of the colleges because someone had seen our story on TV and contacted us so we could speak to students who would eventually be working in genetics.

Although telling our story can, at times, be difficult, it can also be therapeutic and, more importantly, life-changing and possibly life-saving. I have spoken with medical professionals who had had people tell them about “that family they read about in the paper” and who sought our medical advice and even genetic testing because they read our story.

If you have been personally affected by stomach cancer and do feel comfortable telling your story, pick up the phone and contact your local newspaper and ask to speak to a health reporter. Tell them that you have a story that might be of interest and give them a brief overview. The worst that can happen is they say they are not interested but thanks for calling us. But imagine that good that can come out of a simple phone call?! People – even one person – might eventually learn of your story and see similarities in their own life… and pick up the phone and call their doctor…..

We all have different personalities and comfort levels with sharing details of our personal lives, so I realize not everyone is going to feel comfortable contacting a newspaper or television station. However, at least continue to share your story with those you meet in life….. because even that could save someone’s life….

About Elizabeth A. Lambert

Elizabeth A. Lambert is a high school English teacher and serves on the Board of Directors of No Stomach For Cancer, Inc.

5 Responses to Everyone has a story to tell

  1. Waleska L. says:

    Hi Denise. Your post interested me since my brother passed away in March of this year from diffuse stomach cancer and we also do not have a history of cancer in our family. He was diagnosed in November of 2010 and after 3 chemo treatments, the doctors decided to stop since it wasn’t doing him any good. He had genetic tests done and they concluded that as of now, there is no gene mutation they could identify associated wit his cancer. He had H Pylori as do the rest of my immediate family (we became aware of this after he was diagnosed). (We’ve since all had treatment for this bacteria). His oncologist said that H Pylori is not associated with diffuse stomach cancer. In any case, I’m curious if your husband has done genetic testing and if so, what were his results. I’m hoping the best outcome for him. Thanks.

  2. Beth Lambert says:

    Denise,
    I will keep you, your husband, and family in my thoughts and prayers as you battle this awful disease. Dealing with the illness itself is extremely difficult (an understatement, I know), but then to think that it could be genetic adds another dimension to it. I remember I kept thinking of the word “surreal” as everything was unfolding.

    If you ever need a listening ear or can think of something we can do to help and support you, feel free to contact me by e-mail at blambert@nostomachforcancer.org and, if you would like, I would be happy to contact you.

    Try to take care of yourself (easier said than done, I know), Denise.

    Very sincerely,

    Beth

  3. karen says:

    Denise, I am so sorry to learn of your husband’s diagnosis. But I am glad you’ve found No Stomach For Cancer. I hope you’ll join the discussion / support forum on this website. There are a lot of compassionate people here who all have unique stories and a variety of experience, but so much in common as they face stomach cancer in their own lives. I hope you will reach out to this group.- you will be welcomed with much support. Let us know how we can be of help.
    With warm regards,
    Karen

  4. Denise Brown says:

    Hi: My name is Denise and my husband Mark has stage 4 stomach cancer. There is no known cancer in his family. He was diagnosed last September 2010. It has been 9 months since his diagnose. He has gone through chemotherapy the last several months. Please help us with this devastating disease. The doctors think it is a gene mutation that caused Mark’s stomach cancer. We are awaiting his PET scan in about two weeks.

    • Teri says:

      So sorry for your husbands diagnosis…Im hoping your husband decides to consent to gene testing at some point especiallly if he has siblings or you have children as this could also affect them in future (if he were to test positive).
      Hoping you are coping , I know how horrible your situation is right now because I went through this 3 years ago with my 26 year old daughter (our family had no stomach cancer history until she was diagnosed…she was positive for the gene and I later found out I was).
      Stay strong adn take care
      Teri

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