Cancer survivor chronicles experience, advice in new book
Summit Daily News
Lyn Densem-Chambers had always been plagued by headaches. Usually, she just wrote them off as result of sinus problems or stress. But in late November 2005, it became apparent something was really wrong.
“I woke up with a really, really bad headache,” Chambers said. She bolted from her bed, “somehow made it down to the bathroom,” and started convulsing. “I knew there was something that was terribly wrong,” she said. “It wasn’t just an ordinary headache.”
So her husband called for help. Summit County Ambulance Service, along with Red, White and Blue Fire Rescue, responded and whisked her to St. Anthony Summit Medical Center. Doctors found a bleeding mass inside her head, which called for immediate surgery in Denver. She was rushed down by Flight For Life. The surgery was successful, but was soon followed by news easily classified in the worst nightmare category: She had an extremely deadly and advanced brain cancer, Glioblastoma Multiforme.
“Statistically, people with Glioblastoma Multiforme don’t live more than 12 to 18 months,” she said. “That was a significant blow to my self-esteem and self confidence.”
The next three years of Chambers’ life was filled with exceptionally aggressive cancer therapy. Three “solid years” of chemotherapy, with a mixture of radiation and other therapies. Six years after her ordeal started, she’s cancer-free, “a survivor now,” she said. “It was a long haul.”
Throughout her ordeal, Chambers kept a journal. Her written recordings have now become the foundation for her new book, “Life Inside Out: A Practical and Inspirational Guide to Dealing with Cancer and Other Life-threatening Illnesses.”
“It helped me to keep this journal, but also became the basis of my book,” she said.
The book is partly about her experience with cancer – her diagnosis, choosing a doctor, and just “wrapping your arms around the fact that you have a good chance of dying” – to provide help and hope to others going through the same ordeal, but also offers advice for staying healthy. After Chambers’ illness, she looked into all the things she could do to stay healthy and avoid recurrence.
“A large portion of the book is about a healthy lifestyle and ways that, not just people with cancer, but anyone can keep themselves and their immune system strong against all disease,” she said. Among her recommendations: exercise, adequate sleep, and above all, a positive attitude.
“I’ve always believed our experiences in life are not so much what happens to us but how we deal with it,” she said. “I believe that taking a positive perspective is helpful to us not only mentally and emotionally but physiologically.”
Chambers, who has been a writer her whole life, said she was inspired to write the book after numerous friends called her for cancer advice for themselves, or others they knew.
“Most of what I wrote this book for is to provide hope, as well as help, for other cancer patients and their loved ones,” she said. “I believe my experience can help them know that somebody made it through, somebody who maybe even had worse odds than they had.”
Chambers’ book was just released to the public a few weeks ago. The Next Page Bookstore and Tea Bar in Frisco is holding a signing today at 3 p.m. Chambers will make a short presentation before the signing.
“Her story was very moving and it’s a topic that’s touched many lives in one way or another,” said Karen Berg, Next Page owner.
One of the nurses from the Flight For Life crew that took her to Denver, along with Flight For Life director Kathy Mayer, will be in attendance. Emergency transport vehicle Terra 2 will be parked outside. A portion of the proceeds from the book will be donated back to Flight For Life by both Chambers and Next Page.
“What she’s doing is tremendous,” Mayer said. “Acknowledging not just Flight For Life’s role, but the roles of many people who contributed to her recovery through her book. We are very grateful for her generosity.”
Chambers is very thankful to all her responders. “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them,” she said.
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