Columns for The Lufkin News

One Teacher's Story of Cancer and Community Support

Posted Oct 07, 2014 by Sidney C. Roberts, MD, FACR

I have had the privilege over the last few months of speaking at Lions and Rotary Club lunches about cancer and the work of the American Cancer Society. My tag team partner in these presentations has been the lovely Jean Ann Keen, a two-time cancer survivor and mother/teacher extraordinaire.

Jean Ann has had the misfortune to be diagnosed with two different cancers decades apart. When she had her first cancer while pregnant with her now 25 year-old daughter, Kylie, there were no local support resources to speak of. Thankfully, surgery alone was curative for that cancer.

However, when Jean Ann was diagnosed with breast cancer last year, she learned her treatment course was going to be more complicated this time, involving both surgery and multiple cycles of chemotherapy. She felt a bit lost and overwhelmed. Luckily, someone told her about the American Cancer Society and the wonderful office we have in Lufkin.

In our Lions and Rotary Club presentations, Jean Ann tells a wonderful story of driving back from Waco one night. She decided to pull out a GPS unit for the first time, as she was unfamiliar with the dark roads and wanted some extra assistance. She plugged it in, turned it on, input her home address, and - lo and behold! - a map appeared with directions to her destination! She was fascinated to be able to see ahead what was coming – every turn, every intersection – with a voice telling her when to change course and how long it would take to get to where she was going.

Jean Ann goes on to explain that the American Cancer Society was like that GPS for her when it came to dealing with breast cancer. It was unfamiliar territory, and she needed that guidance to help her see ahead what was coming, where the intersections were, what roads to take. There were questions that she didn’t even know to ask that she had answers to right from the beginning.

Why am I telling her story?

Ten years ago, Louise Maxwell and I co-chaired a highly successful campaign to raise support for a new office building for the American Cancer Society to manage a 54-county region in East Texas. This building was subsequently named in Louise and Harold Maxwell’s honor. Through the generous support of the TLL Temple Foundation, Memorial Health System of East Texas, the Polk family, the Lufkin Host Lions Club/Angelina Benefit Rodeo, Temple Inland Foundation, and many other individual, family, and foundation donors, the ACS regional office building was constructed. This office also houses the Susan R. Mathis Resource Center and the Louise Maxwell Patient Service Suite, where Jean Ann learned about hair loss, makeup, and tried on wigs through the Look Good Feel Better program.

You see, all those contributions ten years ago are still bearing much fruit today. Thousands of patients have benefited from these and other services, such as patient navigation, clinical trials information, help with finding transportation and lodging, the online Cancer Survivors Network, and I Can Cope support groups. Whether in person at the ACS office on Gene Samford Drive or through their 24/7 1-800-ACS-2345 phone number, the American Cancer Society is there to help.

I want to publicly thank once again all who contributed to the American Cancer Society ten years ago for this wonderful community resource. But the fight isn't over! Support Relay for Life by putting together a team, walking, or contributing in some way. Come to the Pineywoods Cattle Barons Gala on October 25th at Winston 8 Ranch! Call 936-634-2940 for more information about these events. And, thank you!

Your First Visit

What to expect on your first consultation

Get Started >

Centers

Learn about the Temple Cancer Center at CHI St. Luke’s Health Memorial

See Our Center >

Radiation Therapy

Find answers to common questions about radiation therapy

View the FAQ >

Meet Our Team

Sidney C. Roberts, MD, FACR

Sidney C. Roberts, MD, FACR

Radiation Oncologist

Madelene Collier, RN, OCN

Madelene Collier, RN, OCN

Radiation Oncology Nurse

Jewel Randle, RT (R)(T)

Jewel Randle, RT (R)(T)

Lead Radiation Therapist

Aimee Salas, RT (T)

Aimee Salas, RT (T)

Radiation Therapist

Josh Yarbrough, RT (R)(CT)(T)

Josh Yarbrough, RT (R)(CT)(T)

Radiation Therapist

Julie McClain, RT (R)(T)

Julie McClain, RT (R)(T)

Dosimetrist

Linda Miller, MS

Linda Miller, MS

Medical Radiation Physicist

Evelyn Leach

Evelyn Leach

Receptionist