Surviving Cancer

Illustration by Annie Internicola

Illustration by Annie Internicola

For A Growing Number of Lucky People, Cancer Is Losing Its Death Grip

Louise Kuklis is still here—in fact, she just got back from seeing the manatees swim in the waters of Florida. And that is a miracle, because for the past eight years Kuklis has journeyed through Stage III and IV colon cancer to her present, and very blessed, state of remission. Some days, she was merely surviving the pain, nausea, and countless bring-me-to-my-knees indignities that cancer brings. After the Stage IV diagnosis, forced to retire from the teaching job she loved, “I was basically numb for the first month or two, but got my footing and sort of went into survival mode,” she says. Despite it all, Kuklis was, and still is, really living—dancing at her son’s wedding after her first six-month round of chemotherapy, holding her newborn grandchild after the cancer metastasized, then stabilized, in her lungs. At White Plains Hospital, where the oncology nurses know her entire family by name, Kuklis learned that she could knit and paint during the chemo infusions that she would endure over the years. She wrote down her experiences in the hospital’s Narrative Medicine program (a reading and writing group for cancer patients and caregivers), and went on to see two of her paintings published in a book and one on display in Manhattan’s Grand Central Terminal. As if to put a cherry on top of her unstoppable spirit, she completed two triathlons with the Rye YMCA’s Livestrong program. Read full article