Participant Profile: Cheryl Dunlap
“When cancer stares you down, living and loving each moment is a powerful way to fight back.”
Since her husband Todd’s melanoma diagnosis, Cheryl Dunlap and her family have been living life to the fullest – their best way to fight against the disease that appeared in 2001 and recurred seven years later.
Treatment has been grueling – chemotherapy, a pulmonectomy, craniotomy, radiation, open-heart surgery, and a clinical trial. Todd has also faced life-threatening blood clots. But if you ask Cheryl about her journey through cancer with Todd, she makes sure she includes the good things that have happened in the past 13 years: watching both of their sons graduate from college, celebrating a marriage and their first grandson, traveling, gardening, hiking, and wine-tasting.
“We have done our research and tried our best to fight back against cancer,” says Cheryl. “When cancer stares you down, living and loving each moment is a powerful way to fight back.”
Finding a support group at the Cancer Support Community Valley/Ventura/Santa Barbara has been another important part of Cheryl’s journey. After reading Gilda Radner’s memoir It’s Always Something, Cheryl started looking for a place like Gilda’s Club and found the Cancer Support Community.
Cheryl is a middle school teacher – proof that she does not shy away from a challenge. But it took a lot for her to go to CSCVVSB for the first time. “Todd drove me to the orientation because I kept chickening out,” recalls Cheryl. “I was nervous the first night of my support group and could barely speak for all my crying. The group members warmly accepted me and made sure I understood that my feelings were safe with them.”
Cheryl encourages anyone dealing with cancer, both patients and family members alike, to give the Cancer Support Community a try. “Sometimes you’ll want to talk. Sometimes you won’t. Either way, your group will be there for you. They understand your journey in a way others can’t.”
“Of course there is fear, but try not to close yourself off from hope. You don’t have to do this alone. The Cancer Support Community is here to stand by you.”