November is National Family Caregiver Month (NFCM).  During this month, we honor and say thanks to all of the family caregivers out there. We at the Foundation understand the important role family caregivers play in the lives of their loved ones. In the anal cancer community, there are many family caregivers who provide the strength necessary to get through the treatment process and manage the long-lasting side effects. We would like to thank all of the family caregivers out there for all of their hard work and the compassion and love they bring to the treatment process.

Here is anal cancer survivor Shari Coronis's account of her family caregivers:

To My Caregivers,

Imagine Christmas Eve (it’s my thing).  My daughters — young adult women, one’s boyfriend, one’s fiancé, and my husband, gathered around.  Something is wrong, very wrong. I’m bleeding horribly.  I’m well past menopause, what could it be?

Christmas Eve. A huge mass was found.  The doctor ran out leaving me on a gurney in the hall — still bleeding.  Nurses wanted to leave to celebrate and did not know what to do with me.

Getting past the fear painted on our souls that night — love had to take over and take charge.

If you are reading this, you probably have anal cancer or love someone that does.  It’s a particularly debilitating disease, however, in many cases highly treatable.

In my case, I had a colostomy bag that my husband had to help with at first.  My daughters helped putting on my underwear — like I was an infant — and cleaned the toilet and bathroom daily that was spattered in orange pyridium, as I could not sit to urinate.  They were my companions for the daily trips to radiation and for chemotherapy via port — the chemo that you “wear”.

They got past the fear and terror of seeing me this way — me, their mother and wife.  I got strength from knowing and experiencing their love for me in the most profound ways.

I am loved, deeply and wholly.  It’s a healing love.  Enduring love.

If you are a spouse or a parent you know the depth of love you have for your family — what a gift to know they have it for you!

I love my family and they love me!

Happy National Family Caregiver Month to all the family members who devote themselves to the care, physically and emotionally, of a loved one.

Thank you, Scott, Kassie and Ariel!