From Darkness to Light

by Mikaela Rossman Clark

There are firsts in life that you always remember. Your first kiss. First pet. First roller coaster ride. The first time you hop on a plane for an epic adventure.

 

And for me–the first time I heard the word ‘cancer’ from a doctor standing over my body.

I was 22 years old. It was the day after the Olympic Opening Ceremonies and I had thrown a wicked party. I woke up to discover what looked like a golf-ball sticking out of my chest. I was living at home, working the type of job no fresh-out-of-college person deserves to have, and saving up for my next big move. My life literally could not have been better.

And in one sentence, everything changed. Every. Single. Thing. About my life changed.

I skipped work and made a doctor’s appointment. My doctor was so perplexed they sent me in for an ultrasound immediately. The ultrasound tech muttered while she was rubbing the wand across my chest, “It’s not a cyst. It’s a tumor.” When an ultrasound tech says it, it’s not as funny as when Arnold Schwarzenegger says it. Trust me.

The doctor came in and confirmed what the tech shouldn’t have shared, but did. We didn’t know what “it” was, but he thought “it” needed further investigation. And so, that night when my parents came home from work I had to let them know that “it” was in me, and “it” was coming out. They didn’t even know I’d skipped work.

What followed over the next three years was a blurry series of doctors’ visits, surgeries, treatments, hospitalizations, rehabilitations, rinse, and repeat. I worried about a lot of things. I worried whether I would live. I worried whether anybody would love me enough to take me on as a lifelong liability. I wondered if I would be able to have children. I wondered if I’d be able to play sports or travel.

But I was lucky. The one thing I didn’t have to worry about was whether I’d be surrounded by people who would support me through it. I had friends and family cooking when I could eat (and enticing me to eat with incredible cookies–my weakness!). I had people lined up to drive me to appointments and to come visit me when I spent weeks hospitalized. I had friends willing to dress me and drive me around just so I could see the outside even when I wasn’t strong enough to go for a walk. I had family doing my laundry and finding clothes that were comfortable enough to wear when nothing felt right. I was fortunate to have insurance to reduce the bills, and savings to make up for the rest.

When I look back at that dark time in my life–those memories are the light. While my medical teams did what that had to do to get me well, the people who stepped in to make sure my basic needs were met were truly my lifesavers.

flowers grow out of the dark moments
Unfortunately, not everybody is surrounded by people who are willing and able to step in when medical conditions usurp every other need. Those basic needs don’t go away when someone is sick–sometimes it becomes even more crucial that they’re met so the patient can focus on the draining work of healing.

That’s where Beyond Basic Needs comes in. We utilize the best in community crowd-sourcing to support people experiencing medical challenges. Whether they need child care, meals, cleaning services, or comfort care, Beyond Basic Needs can step in to line up a care community. Even on your darkest days, knowing Beyond Basic Needs is here can bring a glimmer of light.

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