"In the same year that I was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, three of my
dearest friends and co-workers and five other young ladies in my small
community were diagnosed as well. Over the next year as the nine of us
fought for our lives, I became a crusader of sorts, networking resources,
encouraging everyone to fight through any means possible and always,
collecting information in the hopes that some clinical trial or vitamin or
new treatment would cross my path and save us. I experienced tremendous
grief and heartache as each one of my friends died. While I attended one
funeral right after another, I became certain that I would be next. The fear
and frustration I felt was nearly unbearable and I was determined to make
every day count by helping as many newly diagnosed people with cancer as I
could, for as long as I could.
The treatments that I had to undergo were brutal and it took me nearly a
year to recuperate from them. During this time, my name became well known
throughout the cancer grapevine. Cancer patients from all over began calling
me. I would advise them on what to eat, how to take care of themselves
during treatment, how to find and get into a clinical trial, and what
vitamins and herbs to take. My phone rang off the hook with people frantic
for knowledge and I would spend hours trying to tell them where to get safe
information and help. Not only were the long phone calls stealing precious
time away from my family but they were robbing me of what little reserves I
had for myself. Out of self-preservation I decided to write down all the
information I could, make up "care" packages to send the patient's who
called and spend the shorter amount of time on the phone giving comfort and
encouragement. The idea for the Cancer Patient's Workbook was born.
For three years I worked one on one with cancer patients in my community.
The urgency of dealing with people who were just diagnosed put the idea of
writing a complete and comprehensive workbook on the back burner. I never
felt as if I could take the time away from those people who needed immediate
help so desperately.
During a routine cat-scan four years after my initial diagnoses, a tumor was
found in my right lung. Again I was plunged into the world of chemotherapy,
surgery and more chemotherapy. I was left reeling. Where would I find the
strength to recover, and was that even a possibility for recurrent lung
cancer. My mother-in-law died of a heart attack a few weeks after my last
chemotherapy treatment and I fell headfirst into the world of depression and
isolation. My only solace was the computer and the ideas for a workbook. I
was determined to leave a legacy to cancer patients and since I no longer
had the strength to talk to them one on one, I knew the workbook was the
only way I would be able to reach them.
The next two years found me sitting every day at my computer putting all the
practical knowledge and experience I had as a cancer patient into a
workbook. The Cancer Patient's Workbook is completely different than any
other book on the market. It not only suggests questions to ask doctors but
also provides space to record answers. The workbook furnishes the patient
with step by step guidelines on all aspects of cancer and treatments, lists,
calendars, pain tracking charts, recommended books to read, helpful hints, a
complete source of organizations from which to obtain information, survival
tests, enriching quotations and personal advice from a cancer patient who
has gone through it all. Twice.
Not everyone can survive cancer but I am convinced that being a
knowledgeable and pro-active patient can give many people the edge and a
sense of control. Throughout my disease I have wanted to help cancer
patients. The Cancer Patient's Workbook is my very best effort to do so.
I wrote about my experience concerning different cancer issues throughout
the workbook. However, if you would like additional information, pages 10,
11, 12, 13, 32, 216, 217 and 218 contain a great deal more about my personal
Joanie Willis, Author