Jeanne Guercia
Jeanne Guercia

I am sending you a photo of my mother Jeanne. She just turned 70 but has always looked a lot younger than her age. In the photo she is wearing a Chalmette High School sweatshirt where she taught English for many years. Stomach cancer forced my mother to retire -- I don't think she was ever going to stop teaching. She loved the kids and the challenge of helping them learn. Her cancer has also greatly affected my dad who is her primary caregiver. They have been together for more than 50 years and she is his whole life. His health is starting to suffer from the emotional stress of seeing my mother suffer.

What I want people to know about stomach cancer is that it is very sneaky and can disguise itself at first as a stomach ache or back pain. My mother hadn't been feeling well for more than six months before she decided to go to the doctor. She was able to explain away her aches and pains for a while and I know that she didn't want to take any time off from school to go to the doctor. When she was finally diagnosed, the cancer was stage 4.