Regardless of race, religion, age, income, education, political preference or diet, there is one bombshell that does not discriminate. Cancer has been bringing upon hardships, misfortune, and leaving loved ones behind for decades. Despite being in my mid-20’s, I still need both of my hands to count the number of people that I know personally who have been diagnosed with cancer. Although there are various days and months throughout the year that bring awareness to the issue, I wanted to speak with a leader in the industry who is specifically on the front lines fighting because of how this disease has personally effected her family. I sat down with Vanessa Ragas, the founder of Southern Queenz Cancer Organization, for her insights.
Dove: Vanessa, tell me about your nonprofit organization and how it got started.
Vanessa: We are a small organization raising awareness to the issue and helping those who have been affected by cancer. I started this organization after my family experienced the effects first hand while three of my siblings fought and died from cancer.
Dove: What are some common feelings that people get or express after being diagnosed?
Vanessa: They become very fearful and afraid. People immediately begin to think about death, regardless of their chances of survival or possibly treatments. The phrase I hear the most is “Why me Lord, why me?”
Dove: That must be tough. What advice do you have for someone who has just found out that they or a loved one has cancer?
Vanessa: The first thing that I tell them is that cancer is a word, not a death sentence. Although fear is common, a positive mindset will get you much further. Take the time to learn your options, understand your condition and build a support system.
Dove: What are some things that someone can do when trying to keep a calm or stable mindset while trying to cope with cancer?
Vanessa: Stay focused and stay in the present; if not, you’ll spiral out of control. It isn’t easy, but your energy must be aimed on getting better. My organization often provides poems of strength and hope to the cancer patients that we come in contact with.Getting stressed and anxious is normal but making an effort to stay positive will have a better impact on your health.
Dove: Do you think that there are enough resources for individuals with cancer or their families?
Vanessa: No. The resources that are supposed to be available are all caught up behind so much red tape along with the hoops people have to jump through to get the help is. I often work with patients that by the time they’re approved for assistance, they are either gone or to sick to care about it.
Dove: That’s something that I was never aware of. I would image that a cancer diagnosis comes with a mountain of problems. In line with another problem, what are some things that you should never say to someone who has cancer?
Vanessa: Being around someone with cancer can be difficult and cause us to say things that we do not mean. One of the worse things anyone can do is make a cancer patient feel like they’re legitimate emotions are excessive. Saying things such as “you need to stop whining, you’re not the only person with cancer” or “I don’t want to see you again if you keep crying” are always unacceptable. These words are like swords.
Dove: That’s absolutely understandable. Thank you so much for sitting down with me Vanessa. How can others get in touch with you in order to support your organization and the community that you serve?
Vanessa: We can be reached on our Facebook or Instagram page for Southern Queenz Cancer Organization. We also have a website for donations, www.southernqueenzcancerorg.com, and items may be sent to 32088 Highway 11, Buras, La 70041.