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Relay for Life...The Caregiver, The Fixer

Mallory D. Biering, Staff Reporter

Theresa Chandler, Director of the Mabry Cancer Center at The Regional Medical Center does more than help her patients battle cancer at her job. Chandler calls herself, "The Fixer." She is a nurse, a person willing to help others in their time of need. However, she never thought a person she would have to help would be her daughter. Chandler explained at a Relay for Life meeting that she has the personality to fix a was her job, but fixing the problem of cervical cancer was something she could not do for her daughter.

Cervical cancer is a slow growing cancer that forms in the tissues of a cervix, that may not have symptoms. However, regular Pap tests can detect any changes in cell tissue. Chandler's daughter Nikki, like many females, did not pay much attention to the idea of having cancer, it was more like, "this won't happen to me," situation.

But, Nikki and Chandler's family soon learned, "this won't happen to me," could happen to anyone, even them. Chandler explained Nikki's story in great detail, letting those in attendance at the Relay meeting, how important it is to take care of your body to prevent things like this happening.

Chandler sees people survive cancer on a daily basis at RMC, which is why she was so determined to fix her daughter's illness and that is also why she is so passionate about Relay for Life. Relay for Life, is an event sponsored by the American Cancer Society, with a goal to make more birthdays. Chandler said one of her favorite parts of the event is seeing the survivors walk around the track. "It is so amazing, and they seem so very happy," she said.

As director of a cancer facility, Chandler sees all the faces of cancer. She sees the patient, the family and then all of the questions and concerns each have. But being in the situation herself, she knows how to help families and patients cope with the concerns. "I think one of the biggest things is that you have to take care of yourself also. You have to rest, you have to be able to talk about it. Sometimes you get so involved that you don't take care of yourself," is advice Chandler extended to the many caregivers. Chandler shared that there are times when her team at RMC show more comfort to the caregivers, rather than the patient. "The patient is like, 'Okay, what's next,'" said Chandler. The caregivers and the patients work together to fight whatever battle they have been given, and Relay for Life is an opportunity to come together and celebrate how far each person has come.

Every day patients are surviving, and every day caregivers are trying to fix any problems that may arise. Together, along with the help from the American Cancer Society and Relay for Life the battle for the cure is a little closer and more birthdays are being added to the calendar.

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