Introduction to the Stortellers
Helen's Story About Her Reaction to Her Diagnosis

Helen has just returned from a visit with the local urban American Indian healer to talk about her cancer diagnosis. She is getting out of car just as her daughter is walking home from high school.

Nina (14-year old daughter): Hi mom. What's wrong? You look upset. Where have you been?

Helen: Yes, I am. I've been visiting with Michael (local urban Indian healer) and then with the priest. Then I been talking with the Social Worker at the General Hospital. I been everywhere!

Nina: What's wrong, mom?

Helen: Well, I got some bad news today. I got a disease and I've got to go in for surgery.

Nina: Mama, what's going on?

Helen: Well, I got to go the hospital and get something taken out. And the doctor says I can't wait very long ... that what I've got is going to grow really fast. So I got to have surgery.

Nina: What kind of surgery? Do you have to stay at the hospital or do you get to come right home?

Helen: I got to be in the hospital for about 3 days. They're going to cut on my chest some. I don't know. The Social Worker helped me fill out some paperwork so that Medicaid will pay for the surgery. The hospital is going to take care of me as part of their poor people program. I wonder what kinda doctor they have in that poor people program.

Nina: Mom, I still don't understand. What's going on? What are they going to cut on you for? Are you going to be okay?

Helen: Oh, I got this bad disease and they have to cut out the disease. All this time, I was thinking your daddy would be the one to get cut on. But no, it's me. What did I do wrong that they have to cut me up?

Nina: Well, how much are they going to cut up? And you didn't answer me. Are you going to be okay?

Helen: They don't know how much they gonna cut me. But I talked to Michael about their knives cutting my spirit. He gived me some herb to put in my token bag to help my spirit go back together after they sew me up.

Nina: So when is all of this going to happen?

Helen: I don't know. I got to wait for the Social Worker to get my poor people program paper approved. Then they'll tell me when I get to go in for the surgery.

Nina: Can I stay with you at the hospital?

Helen: I don't think so, honey. I think they'll make you go home at night. Besides, you need to go to school.

Nina: I'm getting good grades. I can miss some school. I'm afraid mom. I don't understand what is going on.

Helen: Well, I got to think on it some more. I don't understand it too good either. All I know is they gonna cut on me. I don't like it. But both Michael and the priest say I got to do it. So, I guess I will. Sigh.

To read more stories about Helen, click on her leaf above or click Here

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