Cancer survivor Bob Moore is a man of very few words – so few that he requested his sister, Terry, tell the story of his diagnosis, treatment and experience as a patient at Genesys Hurley Cancer Institute.
When asked to share his thoughts about his journey as a cancer victim, the Mt. Morris resident simply says, “I feel fantastic,” and turned to Terry to do what she does best – speak on behalf of her older brother.
Two years ago, when Bob learned he had cancer, he once again had very little to say. “Am I going to die,” were his first and only words. Fortunately, Terry was at his side and was able to get the full story.
Bob initially thought he had a couple of mosquito bites on his neck, but when Terry – a retired nurse – checked them, she found they were hard to the touch. She knew her brother should see his doctor. After a visit to Bob’s family physician and a referral for a biopsy, his surgeon (Abdelmajid Jondy, MD) found five lumps that required a biopsy. A few days later, the diagnosis was in: Bob had Stage 4 lymphoma.
“Bob looked like a deer in headlights when he heard the news,” Terry recalls that day clearly. “I told him, ‘you will not go through this alone,’” and Terry was good on her word.
In fact, she wrote a book about her observations during Bob’s chemotherapy treatments at Genesys Hurley Cancer Institute, in hopes her stories will uplift others going through their cancer diagnosis, treatment and healing.
On his first day at Genesys Hurley Cancer Institute, Bob was still in a state of shock and his stress level was very high. The only thought on his mind was, “am I going to die?” He didn’t talk with anyone that day.
The staff immediately knew what to do to ease Bob’s fears.
“They were so wonderful and welcoming,” Terry points out. “They knew exactly how to connect with Bob. They knew when to joke with him, when he wanted to be alone, when he needed someone to hold his hand, and what to say on days when he was down.”
It didn’t take Bob long to feel comfortable and confident at Genesys Hurley Cancer Institute.
“Believe it or not, Bob started opening up, not just with the staff, but with other patients,” Terry noticed. “He even welcomed new patients and tried to help them feel less apprehensive. Genesys Hurley Cancer Institute provided such a warm, peaceful place where patients could feel safe and secure. It was so comforting to see Bob feeling positive and happy.”
And through it all, Terry was at his side, not only supporting her brother, but also capturing – through words and illustrations – the journey of cancer and all of the thoughts, feelings and emotions she sensed during Bob’s experience.
Bob’s last day at Genesys Hurley Cancer Institute was Feb. 23, 2017.
“Bob is such a kind, soft spoken, gentle soul,” Terry shares. “He didn’t, and still does not, want to talk about this experience. He had one goal – to get on with his life.”
And, today, more than a year after his final treatment, Bob has resumed his usual daily routine – taking care of chores around his house, eating lunch at the same restaurant in Mt. Morris every day, and spending the afternoon helping neighbors with odd jobs.
“He always says to me, ‘my life is moving ahead; I don’t need to talk about it (his cancer). It’s behind me now,’” Terry notes.
This diagnosis really threw an unexpected curve ball in Bob’s life, Terry reflects. “My brother never had been sick a day in his life. He worked as the maintenance manager at St. Mary’s Church until he retired, and he said he expected to live until he was at least 85.”
In August, Bob will celebrate birthday #73, and, if he continues to follow the instructions from his medical team at Genesys Hurley Cancer Institute, age 85 shouldn’t be a problem.
“The doctors, nurses and everyone on the treatment team at Genesys Hurley Cancer Institute were so knowledgeable and provided such superior care,” Terry announces.
“It takes special people to deal with patients like Bob, and we found those individuals at Genesys Hurley Cancer Institute.
“Through their actions, they relieved my brother’s fears, they expressed empathy at the exact right times, and they made the treatment center feel like his second home. All that Bob wanted was his life back, and they gave it back to him. They have a goal to make every single patient feel like family and it certainly worked.”
Terry has since published her book and tells her stories as often as she can. She will be sharing a few on Tuesday, June 26, at 1 pm at Genesys Hurley Cancer Institute. For details, call the institute at 810-762-8226.