Health Team

Support program helps families dealing with cancer

Posted March 3, 2010 6:18 p.m. EST
Updated March 5, 2010 9:44 a.m. EST

— Cancer not only has a physical impact on the patient. The diagnosis can have an emotional impact on an entire family. A Raleigh-based support program is helping families cope by fostering friendships with others going through the same experience.

In June 2008, Chris Jones learned he had Stage 1 colon cancer. It was a devastating blow to everyone in his family.

“During a scan of my abdomen, that's when they found that I had a tumor in my intestine,” Chris Jones said. “At the age of 36, I never anticipated having to deal with it.”

“It was really hard to process at first,” said his wife, Robin Jones.

Chris Jones had surgery to remove the tumor at Duke Raleigh Hospital. He then underwent six months of chemotherapy to reduce the risk of recurrence.

“There's a whole mental aspect of cancer that really changes your life,” he said.

The cancer and chemotherapy also changed the lives of the Jones’ children, 9-year-old Corbin and 8-year-old Peighton.

“I was a little freaked out,” Peighton said.

“It's like your life is starting all over, but with a different situation,” Corbin said.

To help everyone cope, the family joined the KidsCan support group through the Duke Cancer Patient Support program. There, they interacted with other families dealing with cancer.

“Their parents have had cancer, and they have almost experienced the same situation as you,” Corbin said of talking to other children in the program.

“I think it was very helpful for them to know that they weren't by themselves,” Robin Jones said.

Chris Jones’ cancer is in remission, and the family is moving on with their lives.

“He can actually run around and play with us,” Peighton said of her dad.

“Last year, me and Robin ran in the colon cancer 5K. This year, we're doing it as a family,” Chris Jones said.

The family still attends group meetings to deal with the fear that the illness could return.