Cancer Awareness Month

Surviving cancer again: finding the road to health

Reg Berrington is feeling stronger every day and will be soon be back at his hobby – building and selling adirondack chairs

LeRae Haynes

Free Press

When Reg and Eleanor Berrington moved to 108 Ranch from Victoria eight years ago, they knew they’d found their perfect new home.

They found it a great place to be retired, with everything they needed.

Reg had survived cancer twice in his life and settled into his new community with a clean bill of health. And then, last September, he found out he had non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

Reg says he found out as a result of a routine blood test for an annual medical exam.

I had started noticing that I was short of breath and thought I was just getting old. The doctor called me in and said, ‘I have some bad news for you’.

I know that a psychological blow like that can play heck with your mind. But because I’ve been through it before, I didn’t react as dramatically as I might have.”

He saw an oncologist in Kelowna, but because of the type of cancer it was, his chemotherapy treatments were given in 100 Mile House – treatments that lasted three hours.

You sit there and look at every crack in the ceiling, you look out the window; sometimes you talk with the people in the other three chairs and sometimes you just want to lie there. The drug makes you a little sleepy; sometimes I lie there and snore.”

The service in that room was second to none, he says, and Eleanor

agrees.

“The nurses wanted to be in that room: they were embracing and helpful. They interacted with you and always had time for you,” she explains.

Our experience at the hospital has been very much like that.”

Reg notes that 10 years ago, the cancer drugs he was given weren’t as advanced as they are today.

It was mainly pills in those days and they didn’t address it as aggressively as they did this time around. It was so different: night and day. That was reassuring to us.”

Eleanor did all the home care for Reg, and says they also reached out to friends in their church and in the community. She adds that the most important thing in this experience is your mind set.

You can’t fix the problem, but you can make it easy as possible; Reg is very positive about the outcome and about moving forward.”

Reg says it means the world to him to have a friend, a nurse and a wife all in one.

She was up all hours with me and would nap when I did. I’m dizzy from the drugs and haven’t driven for a few months; she does all the driving.

I fully intend to come out the other side as strong as I used to be. January was my last treatment; now I just need to get my strength back.

Tell everyone you know, ‘I have cancer and I’m being treated’. Secrecy creates isolation; talk about it. “You’re not alone.”