CARLTON FLETCHER: Cancer series offers stories of hope, triumph

OPINION: 'Cancer Chronicles' features survivors, medical heroes

Carlton Fletcher

Carlton Fletcher

Inspiration’s what you are to me. Inspiration, look … see.

Led Zeppelin

This all started, this whole “Cancer Chronicles” series that kicked off today with features on cancer survivor Dennis Vann and Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital Medical Director of Oncology Services Dr. Robert Krywicki, from a conversation with Cancer Coalition of South Georgia Executive Director Diane Fletcher.

Fletcher is one of those Type A personalities who wears her passion for others on her sleeve, and she suggested my unique perspective on the disease that has devastated so many families in our region could be used to raise awareness and to highlight some of the good things that have resulted from research funded by the Cancer Coalition and others.

The seed of an idea that grew into the series was planted at a later meeting with Fletcher and Cancer Coalition of South Georgia Communications Coordinator Casey Perkins.

Faith gives cancer survivor Dennis Vann strength CLICK HERE.

Phoebe Medical Oncology Director Dr. Robert Krywicki works to streamline care CLICK HERE.

For the last several weeks, this concept has consumed a large part of my professional life. I’ve steadily pestered and harangued Fletcher and Perkins; Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital officials Jackie Ryan, Casey Dixon, Nancy Barclay, Ann Williams and some of the busiest people in the world — the dedicated docs in the Phoebe Cancer Center — as well as trying to coordinate schedules that would allow me to sit down and talk with some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met: several local citizens who’ve survived their own personal battles with cancer.

The concept is a relatively simple one: Let the survivors tell their own individual stories. And let the medical heroes on the front lines of those battles share a little about the things that drive and motivate them.

I marveled at some of the stories that will appear in this series of articles. I shed tears with some of the survivors as they relived the highs and lows of their battles. And I walked away with a clearer understanding of the impact this insidious disease has on its victims, their families and the medical community that fights to offer them that most precious of diagnosis: remission.

Some of the survivors told me very private details of their individual battles against cancer, details that won’t appear in these articles. I have no doubt that the telling had a cathartic effect on them. I know without a doubt it did on me.

There will be those who question the timing of this series, of featuring such a horrifying topic during the holiday season. But I disagree. I think the season during which we reflect on the things in our lives that we have to be thankful for is the perfect time to offer these stories of courage of triumph and, yes, of miracles. All of us can offer thanks for those who call themselves survivors. Those who haven’t had an up-close-and-personal brush with the disease owe a level of thanks that I can only pray they never know.

One of the amazing survivors featured in this series, Associate Real Estate Broker Pat Tricquet, said it best during our conversation: “This is a message of hope, a message of faith and a message of strength.”

To a person, all who were a part of this endeavor expressed a similar desire: “If doing this can help just one person, I’m all in.” Given that benchmark, I can already proclaim this series a success. My life has been deeply enriched by all these amazing people. And while I’m celebrating this special holiday, I’ll give thanks for each one.