Dealing with a pandemic is stressful and causing plenty of anxiety for everyone. Now, imagine adding a cancer diagnosis on top of that.
“I want a refund on 2020,” jokes Diana Cockrell.
Diana was diagnosed with breast cancer at the end of 2019 and is now facing the challenges that come with being a cancer patient during COVID-19. However, the 46-year-old still has her sense of humor.
Her husband of 23 years, Dennis, has been driving her to chemo treatments at the Bon Secours – St. Francis Cancer Center. However, he can no longer go inside the building. Not only is Diana considered part of the “at risk” population for COVID-19, but hospital visitor restrictions put in place for patients’ safety because of the virus means she has to complete her treatments alone.
“It’s tough for her and all the people in this situation. The physical hardship is hard by itself, and it’s made that much worse under these conditions. That’s why it’s important to try to still find moments you can steal back and make them smile,” says Dennis.
At first, Dennis just planned to sit in the parking lot and wait until his wife was done with her treatment. However, upon finding out his wife had a window, he quickly went into planning mode.
“At my last treatment, he was able to actually find my window and wave hello,” recalls Diana.
Dennis didn’t stop there. He recruited the couple’s three children – Kate, Carly and Collier – to help with his big plan. They made up big signs that read “I’M HERE & I [HEART] YOU” and hid the signs in the car without Diana knowing.
After dropping her off at the entrance to the Cancer Center, Dennis went to working setting up the signs and a lawn chair at the backside of the facility.
“I didn’t know anything about it,” says Diana. “He texted me while I was getting chemo and asked if I could see him. I looked out, and there he was. It was incredible and really made me feel not so alone.”
Dennis was just happy that the plan worked.
“I had no idea if I could pull it off. I thought I might get kicked off property to be honest, but it ended up putting a smile on her face and a few others,” Dennis says with a smile of his own. “I was just trying to make the best out of a bad situation.”
Diana says her support system has definitely made her battle with cancer more bearable.
“You just have to trust in God. He gives us people to stand by us and that’s where the strength comes from. I’m so thankful for the people he’s given to stand by me,” Diana shares. “Dennis in particular has been amazing. He’s seen me at my very worst and still shows me an invincible love.”
The couple started out as high school sweethearts, and Dennis says their love will continue to grow and keep them moving forward even through life’s hardest moments.
“It’s no question for me. I’m going to be there with her, no matter what she goes through. Whatever she does, or goes through, we go through together.”
Stay updated on what Bon Secours is doing related to COVID-19.