Kara Rideout

Age: 18

What school did/do you attend?

Booth Memorial High in St. John’s NL

What is/are your career goal(s)?

She dosen’t have a career goal yet, but she does know she wants to do ‘something I’ll be happy doing.’

Your Cancer experience

Who did you support with cancer?

My Mom

How did you find out about the cancer? What event(s) led to the diagnosis?

Actually us kids in my family didn’t really know there was anything wrong, then one day I came home from school, my dad meet me and me sister at the door, told us he had to talk to us, and told us that my mom had a tumor in right lung and that it was active and that she would have to get surgery and treatment.

What year was it? How old were you?

It was 1999, I was 13, and in grade 8.

What kind of cancer was he/she first diagnosed with?

Lung cancer

What were your first thoughts when you found out about the diagnosis?

My first thoughts were that she was going to die, which is what a lot of people initially think when they hear cancer. I was devastated, my mom was my everything in life, and the thought of her getting sick and dieing was just sickening.

How did your family react?

We were all extremely devastated, my sister Margaret lost it, she didn’t know how to deal with it. We tried to all be there for my mom and each other though; it was hard because we all reacted differently.

How did your friends react? Did your friends begin treating you different?

My friends were always really close to my mom as well. They were upset, and didn’t have a clue what to say to me except she’s not going to die, and that it was all going to be alright. They never treated me different, but they were more cautious about my feelings knowing I was really upset.

How did you support him/her with cancer?

I spent every minute I could with my mom; I dropped all after school activities and spent all my time with her. When she cried I cried with her. I went to treatment sessions with her, I spent hours talking to her about how she was feeling. M mom and I were close. I think, to her just sitting with her supported her.

Do you know what the treatment consisted/consists of?

Describe the medical side (chemo, radiation, in-patient, out-patient)

I only know that radiation and chemo are used. Radiation burns out the damaged cell, and chemo kills all the infected cells and a lot of the good ones to which makes you sick and lose your hair.

Describe the non-medical side (how you felt emotionally, physical side-effects, exhaustion for example)

During was horrible, and I think after was worse. It was just uncomfortable for her; she had surgery, then radiation, then chemo, then another type of chemo, then another type. She fought hard and it really wore her down, she was so full of life, and it drained her of it. She was tired, and beat out. But she always tired to stay positive and happy, even though we all knew the treatments had really taken a part of her away.

In which Hospital(s) was he/she treated?

Health Sciences Center, in their Cancer Center (NCTRF)

What was the outcome?

My mom sadly passed away a year ago, March 30th/ 2003

How is life different for you now that you have had a cancer experience?

Different I don’t have the most important thing in my whole entire life; my mother made up every being of my body. Losing her was like losing life. Everything changed.

What was the hardest thing about adjusting to life after a cancer diagnosis?

Adjusting to life on my own really. My dad works a lot, and is away all the time, and my sister moved away up with my brother because she couldn’t deal with the loss very well. I now take care of the house, my dad, and still go to school I had to grow up so fast, and that was the hardest part about adjusting.

What is/was the toughest part of having a cancer experience?

All the heartache it cost and the outcome.

What is/was the best part about having a cancer challenge?

Realizing there’s more to life then work, and living up to society’s beliefs and values, and realizing that just being myself was fine, and to live life to the fullest because you only have one life to live.

What really motivated you to keep going while he/she was sick?

My mom passed on the greatest quality to me strength, the only reason I didn’t break down is because she kept me going, knowing that she needed me, and I had to be there for her, and help her to be happy, and get through what she was going through.

What lessons or messages have you taken away from your experience?

Live life to the fullest because you never know what tomorrow is going to bring. No matter what, be sensitive to others because you don’t know what there dealing with. Being happy and smiling and realizing everything happens for a reason, good or bad, can get you and many others through the hardest of days.

What are your thoughts and feelings about cancer now? How has your perception changed since before you were faced with a challenge?

I never thought cancer would hit so close to home, now I know it can, and that cancer can be devastating but a life learning experience. Sense my cancer experience I have opened up to a whole new world filled with cancer, helping organizations, even being drawn to people who have cancer hoping I can help them, because now that I have been through it, cancer is just part of my life. It will always be there and always affect me.

What are some (if there are any you know of) preventative measures that people can take to lower their risk of having an experience?

For God sakes don’t smoke! It gives you cancer and the person standing next you even a greater chance of getting cancer. Wear sun block; don’t scorch yourself in the sun or solarium. And did I mention don’t smoke?

Did you attend any support groups during your challenge?

I did try therapy. I didn’t really like that because I’m a pretty positive and happy person, and the environment of it just made me uncomfortable, I felt more comfortable expressing my experience in a different way charity. So I started doing the Relay for Life, and I joined YACC.

How are you connected with Young Adult Cancer?

I saw Geoff’s commercial on T.V and joined the e-mail group, I started e-mailing him telling him about my cancer challenge. (My mom was still alive then and very sick) I then interviewed him for a class project and he had me hooked with YACC ever sense then. YACC has been my savior, Geoff and Renee are amazing, and they always make you feel comfortable, loved, and happy. What you, Geoff, have done for me, is amazing, you made me realize the positive side of everything, I lost my mom and huge parts of my life at 17 and I’m the happiest person I know, and I truly believe I would be miserable if I didn’t get the positive attitude that you pass on to so many. Thank you. YACC is an amazing organization, one of a kind, and really amazing.