HealthLinks Upstate Sept/Oct 2022

20 | www.Ups tatePhys i c i ansSC . com | www.Hea l thL i nksUps tate. com For Harry McMillan, when his wife’s routine breast lump removal unexpectedly disclosed a tiny hidden cancerous tumor, he reacted with shock and disbelief – but feelings of helplessness were close behind. For more than 50 years, McMillan has taken seriously his role of family protector and provider. But back then, Cathy, the person he loved most in the whole world, was being attacked, and he could do nothing to stop the invasive onslaught. However, there were other things he could tackle, including personally notifying the couples’ two adult sons, who have always been very close to their mother. There were also the endless consultations and appointments. “I struggled with seeing her being stuck and prodded, and that was very emotional, but I never missed a one of them,” he reminisced. “Cathy says that I was also supportive by doing things around the house when she wasn’t able to and hiding her car keys so she couldn’t slip off and go to work when she needed to stay home.” Cathy McMillan is a strong woman who does not cry or give in to her emotions easily. For her husband, it felt like she truly did not need his support as much as some women might in this circumstance. Her refusal to lose hope, her faith and her perseverance kept despair at bay, even during the difficult times. When the thought of losing his beloved wife elbowed its way into his mind, McMillan responded by sending up prayers on her behalf. It's been 15 years, and Cathy is now well past the five-year and 10-year survivor anniversaries. For Harry McMillan, the experience has made him realize, “When you get wrapped up in daily living, you can forget what is important, and an experience like this brings you back to Earth real quick.” THE MCMILLANS Harmon Kerrison was only 14 when her carefree, self-absorbed teenage world suddenly crumbled. It was at a typical family dinner where she noticed the unusual sadness in the eyes of her parents as her mom announced to her and her older sister, Legare, that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. However, their mom, Hunter Kerrison, was not one to wallow in self-pity or to let her family fall into that place. She quickly determined that getting an excellent medical team was the most important step. With her entire professional life devoted to health care, she knew exactly who to call upon for the very best treatment protocols. For Harmon, the Kerrison family dynamics suddenly changed. She remembers, “I disconnected from my personal, everyday activities – which no longer seemed as important – to spend time with my mom.” Some days seemed like being on an emotional roller coaster: “The days when Mom came home in severe pain and I could hear her crying, even though she tried to hide it, were the worst. Before, I always wanted to be out of the house with my friends doing my own thing, but now that felt selfish, and I wanted to be with my mom, doing things together with her instead.” THE KERRISONS