Winter 2012
Healing Through Positivity:
Louise's Story

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The stories we tell about ourselves become definitions for who we are. They determine what holds us back or causes us to excel. Stories describe our challenges and give others a context to understand who we are and how we want to be known. And if healing can be affected by attitude, then Louise Kuklis is an energetic and lively example of how to meet a challenge like cancer head-on, treat it responsibly, and refuse to let it define her life.

This is Louise's second time having colon cancer. This time it has also spread to her lungs.

Her mother had it too, as did her aunt. Louise says her mother was a fantastic role model of how to get on with living without allowing cancer to dominate everything. "Cancer Schmancer" was her motto and she stayed busy and active. So when doctors found colon cancer in a routine colonoscopy 5 years ago, Louise followed the game plan. She had the surgeries, went through the rounds of chemo, and got back to teaching at Edgemont High School in Westchester.

Colon cancer can be persistent. It likes to hang around in the body, spread to lymph nodes and other organs, and doctors can't always be certain they've successfully treated it. It can reappear in the brain, bones, and GI track; the two most common places tend to be the liver and the lungs.

When Louise found out that her colon cancer had spread to her lungs, she knew she was in for long-term treatment.

In between her two diagnoses, Louise had a student whose family had also gone through an extensive experience with cancer. The student told her about Gilda's Club Westchester and the many resources we offer. Louise knew this time she needed to get herself involved.

By the time Louise started chemotherapy, she was already benefiting from the educational resources at Gilda's Club Westchester. Understanding what was going on and what was new in treatment helped a lot. The American Cancer Society's colon cancer book, Guide to Colorectal Cancer, is a go-to reference that Louise recommends highly.

One of her earliest observations was how sensitive Gilda's Club Westchester is to the very different ways individuals and families experience and cope with cancer. The calendar includes such a wide variety of resources, from counseling to crafts, yoga and Pilates to nutrition and art, knitting to tennis. She also noted how warm and welcoming the Clubhouse feels every time she walks through our doors.

This time around with cancer, Louise has a different routine: one that doesn't let her go through it alone. She says her cancer is "in check" with chemo treatments every 3 weeks. When it's chemo week she has a schedule: Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday she's in treatment. On Thursday, she's recovering; maybe she walks a little. By Friday she's back to our Clubhouse for "a little something," like an art class or other social activity. And on Monday, she's back in her yoga classes, back to her routine.

Louise notes that over 10 years ago, the medical wisdom at the time encouraged people to take it easy and not push themselves. Now things are geared much more towards urging a comprehensive approach to the mind-body connection and the significant role exercise, socializing, and living can have on healing. Gilda's Club Westchester provides an outlet to do just that, and as Louise has experienced, including Clubhouse visits in her routine has helped tremendously with the mental health aspect of her challenges.

Last year Louise and her husband went hiking in the Bryce and Grand Canyons. The photos tell the true story of a life being lived to its fullest, with courage and strength and bravery. It's the best story to tell, the one that embraces life as it is and continues the climb with a smile.
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© 2012 Gilda's Club Westchester
80 Maple Avenue
White Plains, NY 10601
Phone: 914.644.8844
Fax: 914.644.8284