Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Frame of Mind 3/07/07 Road to Recovery

Mary T. Small understands how important it is for cancer patients to get to their appointments on time.

Her husband faced cancer twice, first Hodgkin's disease while they were dating. He was a cancer survivor for 36 years. But he was a smoker and was later diagnosed with lung and brain cancer.

"Jerry never thought it would hit him again," Small said. "He was like, you're immune to it. But you're not."

Small's husband died 10 years ago.

"Yesterday would have been our 47th wedding anniversary," Small said.

Small spoke about her husband as she sat in the waiting room at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, a cup of water in her hand. She waited for Kalyani Koneru, an Oak Park resident and cancer survivor herself.

Diagnosed with an inflammatory carcinoma, Koneru has had a mastectomy. There's no sign of cancer left in her body, she said.

Small drove Koneru to see her doctor at Rush all last week. She's a volunteer with the American Cancer Society's Road to Recovery program.

For a while, Koneru said, her husband was driving her to the hospital for appointments at the Chicago medical center, bringing her home again to Oak Park and then heading to work back downtown. He'd miss a half day of work when he did, she said, but Koneru couldn't drive herself for treatment.

Then she heard about the Cancer Society's program.

"So here's my angel," Koneru said.

-Chris LaFortune

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