On National Cancer Survivors Day, two women who overcame this difficult disease share the real reason behind their recovery.
For Teresa Giannelli, a two-time cancer survivor, a visit to a chiropractor saved her life, as she says she never imagined the disease would strike her life more than once.
Giannelli, 60, survived thyroid cancer thanks to early detection and treatment, but when she was in remission for more than 3 years, a visit to the chiropractor gave her an unexpected diagnosis.
“After visiting the chiropractor, the doctor did some tests and told me I had multiple myeloma,” says Giannelli. “I had never heard that word in my entire life.”
Giannelli says that at the time he couldn’t understand how a chiropractor was giving him such news, a doctor who doesn’t specialize in cancer.
“The doctors didn’t give me an explanation, I fought cancer once, and the second time, it wasn’t even thyroid related,” she said. “They just told me, ‘You’re unlucky.'”
Multiple myeloma is known to affect the bone marrow, weaken the bones, weaken the kidneys, and damage other organs.
“My first thought at the time of diagnosis was my children, just them,” Giannelli said.
Her daughter, Andrea Aellos, explains how a situation as complex as this one made her mature at a very young age and taught her the value of living life, every day.
“My whole life faded into the background, my personal life, my classes, my job, everything,” she says. “My priority was my mom, she was the only thing that mattered to me.”
Aellos remembers cutting her hair to shoulder length once her mother shaved her hair off due to chemotherapy as a support act.
“I cut my hair without thinking about it too much”, “I thought my mom looked beautiful with a shaved head, I was planning to shave mine too but she wouldn’t let me,” she said.
Giannelli says she is grateful to her daughter for having the courage to help her in her worst moments. Thanks to her strength, she beat cancer for the second time and today she only focuses on living one day at a time.
The FDA’s drug shortage list now includes the common chemotherapy drugs Cisplatin and Methotrexate and Pluvicto, used to treat advanced prostate cancer.
Another cancer survivor, Silvia Trevisiol, 46, recalls the moments when she was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma in the second stage of cancer. At that time, her 13-year-old daughter told her that she wasn’t going to let her mom wear bandanas every time she lost her hair, so she asked her to wear wigs. “I didn’t want people to feel sorry for me, so that’s what I did, I just told people I had a new look,” she says Trevisiol.
She remembers how frustrated she felt because she couldn’t take control of the situation. Trevisiol says that he had to go from being a very impatient person to letting life decide for her.
“My daughter was my strength, I would sleep with her, somehow I found peace of mind and hope, she made me stronger,” Trevisiol said.
According to Trevisiol, in addition to her diagnosis, she also dealt with anxiety, but it didn’t last long as her daughter was always by her side reminding her to keep fighting.
“My daughter Sabrina told me: ‘I don’t understand you, you can’t be lying on the sofa like this if there are people who are really dying,’ he said. ‘I swear, I couldn’t believe a 12-year-old girl was teaching me a lesson.
Trevisiol says that after her diagnosis, she tried to carry on with her life as usual, but the fear was always there.
“Some days I slept in my closet praying, hiding myself from the fear of not knowing what was going to happen,” he said.
After six months of starting treatment, he was cancer free. Now, she is trying to make the best of this experience and says that the little moments of it are what make her feel alive.
“It doesn’t matter what your hair looks like, your body, or the material things you own… at the end of the day, none of it matters.”
In addition to having her children close, Trevisiol says that having the company of her husband was essential for her recovery, who gave her strength and motivation to continue.
According to a study conducted by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, a woman is six times more likely than a man to separate or divorce soon after being diagnosed with cancer. This study examined the role gender plays in so-called “partner abandonment” and found that the longer the marriage was, the more likely it was to remain intact.
These two women agree that “living one day at a time” and their families are most important. According to both, the family will always be there in the most difficult moments, when they are most needed.