“The doctor looked at my throat and said something’s not right,” remembers Frankie Vickers. “It flashed through my brain that I’m going to die, but without a pause I heard, no, we’re going to fix this.”
At St. Vincent’s Bruno Cancer Center in Birmingham, AL, Frankie is now a cancer center concierge. As he greets patients and families, his story inspires hope and perservance. “Patients ask me, you had cancer? Yes, I did, I’m a 10-year survivor.” As he helps families move through the caner center, he knows how much the entire staff is dedicated to cancer care.
Susan Salter MD, explains some of Frankie’s cancer treatment journey from treating his head and neck cancer in the throat, to a second cancer in the prostate. “I had chemotherapy in the morning and radiation therapy in the afternoons. Chemo was rough but within six months of treatments I was in pretty good shape.
Life After Cancer Treatment
Louis Josef, a cancer care counselor explains how support groups, Camp Blue Bird and other survivorship activities make a difference. “Patients come into the support group and the bonding is immediate,” says Louis. It’s common for cancer survivors to have a lot of emotions and questions. Sometimes the circumstances are so overwhelming you don’t even know what questions to ask. But then a fellow survivor says, “I know exactly what you are talking about” and the conversations flows freely as does the unconditional love and support.
Frankie recalls being invited to go to Camp Blue Bird, a retreat for cancer survivors. He told his wife, “I’m not one of those people,” and she said, “You certainly are those people, get our bag packed, plus I need a short break from cancer (caregiving).” Louis says camp is non-judgmental, “You are free to put the fun back into life.”
Frankie left Camp Blue Bird determined to give back – to GIVE HOPE.
If you visit the Bruno Cancer Center, say hello to Frankie at the Concierge Desk in the lobby. For more information about cancer care services at St. Vincent’s Birmingham and other locations in central Alabama, call 205-939-7884.
To support the Bruno Cancer Center patient assistance fund please click here.