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Jane Crossley admitted she had butterflies contemplating what she might tell Southern Westchester BOCES practical nursing students about her own cancer diagnosis.
Addressing 40 students at SWBOCES' Harrison training center, Crossley, a Putnam Valley resident, realized her own memories of her diagnosis, treatment and recovery from ovarian cancer had been pushed aside.
"As I realized it was affecting me, I went to Support Connection because they have wonderful counselors there," Crossley said of the Yorktown-based provider of support services for those affected by breast and ovarian cancer.
She and another survivor spoke to nursing students as part of Support Connection’s annual outreach campaign that aims to raise awareness among medical professionals about the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer. Early detection of ovarian cancer is key to successful treatment and long-term survival, yet only 20% of all ovarian cancers are found at an early stage because there is no routine screening test and symptoms can be difficult to recognize.
"I realized this was a wonderful opportunity to help others," she said.
Crossley spoke of her family history of cancer and how that compounded her fears throughout her diagnosis and treatment. She detailed the surgery that confirmed the diagnosis and, more important, the incredible empathy of the nurse who was there for her at that time.
"She recognized my state of shock and stayed with me so I wasn't alone as I absorbed this news," she recounted.
That's the power nurses have, she said, and that's the lesson these students should take with them as they enter their careers.
"They are really all my angels," she said, holding up an angel figure and including Support Connection and her oncologist's team in that description.
The room erupted in applause when Crossley told the group she has been in remission for six years.
"I cannot tell you enough what a difference each one of you can make with your patience, empathy, humor and understanding," she said.
Support Connection, Inc. is a 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit organization that provides free counseling and other support services to people affected by breast and ovarian cancer. Founded in 1996, Support Connection is based in Yorktown Heights, NY, but through their toll-free services and website, they serve people throughout the country. To learn more, visit www.supportconnection.org or call: 914-962-6402 or 800-532-4290.