Adrienne Brauer found the strength to fight cancer through her husband, her family and her network of friends. Now she’s back on the road, discovering America one campground at a time.
Adrienne Brauer was insistent.
Faced with colon cancer, she wanted no treatments that reminded her of her own mother’s unsuccessful battle with lymphoma.
She was wrestling with anxiety and hopelessness when she met with City of Hope medical oncologist Stephen Shibata, M.D. The 65-year-old retiree put her hands on her hips and pronounced to her doctor, “Do I really have to deal with this?”
Shibata reviewed her file, and in his calming voice, said, “Yes, you do, Adrienne.” It was as if a light switched on.
“He told me that even if I could only do six rounds of out the 12 rounds of my chemotherapy, it would be better than nothing,” she remembered. She vowed to go through them all.
Passionate travelers originally from Ridgecrest, Calif., Adrienne, and her husband, Larry roamed the country’s campgrounds in their recreational vehicle after retirement, visiting family members from Southern California to central Oregon. Naturally, they parked their RV at City of Hope during Adrienne’s course of biweekly chemotherapy.
That gave them a chance to take advantage of supportive offerings at City of Hope’s Sheri & Les Biller Patient and Family Resource Center.
Adrienne took an “I Can Cope” nutrition class, which provides tips for eating during chemotherapy, and attended “Look Good, Feel Better,” an American Cancer Society-sponsored class that instructs women on hair, makeup and accessories to boost self-image during treatment. The couple participated in “Writing for Wellness,” a workshop encouraging self-expression, as well as the Biller Patient and Family Resource Center’s practical problem-solving group, “Men and Women Working Together.” They even attended comedy shows and musical performances on campus.
Larry began volunteering at City of Hope’s Blood Donor Center. Adrienne volunteered, too; armed with a “Mary Poppins” bag full of games and toys, she played with children in City of Hope’s pediatric cancer unit every other week.
Upon finishing treatment, the pair took to the highways once more with a positive attitude — ready to see America, meet new friends and enjoy the company of family.
“When we first pulled in through the gate here, we were in tears,” she said. “I've come a long way.”
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