In Loving Memory of Eleanor Bisconer Patrick: 9/27/49 ~ 6/19/10
Hi, my name is Elie Patrick and on February 8, 2009 without warning, I had a seizure at church in the middle of our worship service. I was taken by ambulance to Wilkes-Barre General Hospital. Several hours later after an MRI and many CT scans and xrays, my husband and I, as well as Dick Hawley who was there with us, were informed that I had a brain tumor. What a shocking piece of news for someone to get that thought she was perfectly healthy, and has no indications of anything wrong. Of course, my first reaction was that I was going to die…. I knew nothing about the advances in brain tumor surgeries and therapies. When I was finally told that death was not the only option, I looked at Glenn and said, “Let’s make this count for our savior, Jesus Christ, and for our own lives. We are going to count 100% on prayer, not fear or anticipate anything, and wait for Christ’s leading in everything.” As I prayed that night, He gave me the verse which I know is true for me and which I am clinging to for the rest of my life, that THIS ILLNESS IS NOT UNTO DEATH BUT UNTO LIFE.
Seven out of the first nine days after the seizure, I was in the hospital. First the initial stay, then the biopsy, then becoming allergic to the first seizure medication. When I finally got home to stay for a while before my scheduled St. Patrick’s Day surgery, I wrote over 130 letters to all of our friends, family, college friends, friends we had spent time with in other states, hockey colleagues, former coworkers, people from churches we had gone to over the years, people on my email list,….just anyone I could think of to tell them what had happened, share my love for Christ with them, and ask them to please pray without ceasing for me for the upcoming brain tumor surgery. The response was immediate and remarkable. People began to send cards, emails, flowers, wonderful dinners, put me on prayer lists in all different denominations around the country, stood in churches and asked for prayer. Glenn and I have been overwhelmed with the love and kindness and faithful prayers of people. Dick Hawley and Penny Cunningham from Candy’s Place have made sure I knew that I always had a support group there, and I could come in and talk any time.
My surgery went perfectly. The surgeon got out all of the tumor and I have had no pain or setbacks. Our children, Curtiss and Veronica, were able to come and be with me for these huge procedures, one of my sisters came from California and we had three very special friends locally who sat at the hospital all day waiting for me to go into the recovery room. I recognized everyone instantly and my speech and language began to reappear immediately. I will begin radiation and chemo therapy in two weeks, so I will face another new challenge and need lots of prayer and people support.
I’ve attended two cancer support groups in the past eight weeks and I would like to talk about what I’ve learned there, as well as from our wonderful friends and family who have stood behind us. First thing… when this devastation occurs in a family and the husband ends up the primary caregiver for many long months, he needs the support of the men in his life…..guys, even though you don’t know what to say, call him, just let him know you are there for him and willing to help in any way possible. It is so important to have that male bond.
Secondly, even though you may be scared that something like this could happen to you, reach out to this person in any way you can. Our friends and neighbors brought or sent over wonderful, healthy meals, and other goodies. They were filled with treats such as flowers, fancy napkins, stationary, fancy soaps, candles for dining, cheese and crackers brought over to eat with us for an hour of visiting and more. Fluffy slippers, salads, fruit platters, vegetables, homemade applesauce, pumpkin breads, chocolates, salmon and other anti-cancer dinners. Each and every meal was a delight! Make these special for your friend!!!! One of my friends even came over and babysat me for 2 hours so that Glenn could go out with the guys for the first time.
Thirdly, offer to possibly take your friend grocery shopping or to one of her appointments, or even just out for tea or icecream somewhere. Hugs on the street or in the store and cards in the mail are huge too!!! I looked forward to the mail everyday, and especially to email since I was up in the middle of the night all the time because of the medications. Even the middle of the night can be full of good things…cleaning, getting your life more organized before you fall back to sleep, answering letters, reading, doing walking laps around the living room for exercise… it can all be a great experience. I know for some of you there is a lot of pain involved, so get someone to pray with you and spend time with you. Don’t be afraid to ask. Massage therapists… donate your time, since you bring such healing and relief to hurting people.
I’ve also learned at the support groups that each of us has a completely different types of cancer, with different medicines, different reactions to treatment, different surgical results, but we are all in that room together. We are supporting each other, encouraging each other, and getting some expert advise from Penny Cunningham and Denise Fried. Glenn and I happened to have a huge support group, and others have smaller ones, but Support is the key ingredient!! One wonderful support person is worth everything. We can support each other through little notes, phone calls, going to see each other at work, when we get back and just giving a big hug…. give your favorite waitress an extra tip when she comes back from her treatments, or send a little monetary present in the mail since medications are so financially overwhelming. Attend some of the activities offered at Candy’s Place…. I can’t wait to start the aerobics classes when I am cleared to do so. The staff at Candy’s Place are wonderful and full of kindness and empathy and knowledge. I urge all of you reading this to attend the Rainbow Walk on May 9th…. Glenn and I will be there walking with you… and we would love to make some new friends.
Thank you to our wonderful friends, neighbors, and co-workers here in this area for making this an exciting and wonderful experience for us. We thank every department at Wilkes-Barre General for excellence and compassion in dealing with me, and thank you to the amazing surgical team from the Penn State Hershey Neurosurgery Center. We especially thank Dick Hawley for standing by us from the very first moment of this ordeal!!
With much gratitude, and hope for a cancer free life,
Glenn & Elie Patrick