ENFIELD, Conn. (WWLP) – Troy Price of Holyoke found out he had cancer, the first time, on his wife’s birthday.
“I was a soccer coach on my daughter’s soccer team,” Troy said. “We were at practice and I was planning to cut practice early to take mom out to dinner and I got a piercing pain in my side. I knew right away something was wrong.”
The following five years, Troy and his family would experience a number of highs and lows.
His cancer, acute lymphoblastic leukemia (also known as LL), would go into remission, then come back – again and again.
Some of his cancer treatments were done at D’Amour Center for Cancer Care in Springfield, but other treatments had to be administered in Boston. Troy said his entire family would make trips back and forth.
“They brought a Christmas meal out on Christmas,” he said. “On New Year’s they came back and had some sparkling cider. We celebrated, but it’s all muted.”
Troy said the support groups that make up the non-profit Survivor Journeys helped him and his family cope with cancer once formal treatment had been completed. Dr. Jay Burton of Enfield Medical Associates founded Survivor Journeys. He too had battled cancer.
“I’ve survived a miserable cancer. I’m back to work. I started a non-profit for cancer survivors,” Dr. Jay Burton said. “I don’t think there’s anyone else in the country that has that skill set, and if there is I want to meet them.”
Dr. Burton said there are gaps in the nation’s current cancer treatment system. When a patient is diagnosed, they’re treated by an oncologist. However, once treatment is over and a patient goes into remission or is cured, they are left to fend for themselves.
That is when survivors can turn to Survivor Journeys for the continued support they may need. The organization accepts patients free of charge.
“We match our people by cancer, by people, by gender, by treatment – because not one form of support fits all,” Dr. Burton said.
The organization has dozens of volunteer-based support groups – from a group designated for breast cancer, or focused on blood cancer, to one for head and neck cancer. Survivor Journeys also offers counseling services for caregivers – a group often left out of the healing process.
Troy found comfort in the organization’s mentorship program. A patient is connected with another patient who went through a similar cancer battle. The two often exchange contact information so they can text or call if they need immediate advice.
“For me, it helped me accept what I had and then be able to deal with it in a positive way,” Troy said. “I see cancer for me as being a challenge. It’s just another piece of my life that I’m going to get through.”
Troy’s cancer is in remission, but he still has nine more chemotherapy treatments left.
Dr. Burton is holding the second annual Cancer Survivorship 101 workshop on June 8, 2019.
The free workshop is designed to educate cancer survivors, caregivers, and loved ones. The forum will feature national leaders in cancer survivorship from centers including Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
The event is being held at the Max’s Tavern Conference Room in the Basketball Hall of Fame, Springfield, MA. Attendees are required to sign up in advance.