Ray Bennett was one of the first patients treated on opening day of new Cancer Center Nov. 1, 2010. “It’s beautiful,” he said about the new center, “a lot more room, a lot more efficient, and a view that lifts your spirits.” And what remains the same are the nurses. ”They have a special place in my heart. They’ve been so wonderful. They’re my saviors.”
Ray has been Dr. Siddiqui’s patient since 2008, when he was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer. “It changes your life. It certainly changed my attitude about what’s important. Family, friends, religion. These have become the most important part of my life now,” says Ray, of Cortland, who worked 31 years for IDEAL Industries designing and building automated machines. By his side through it all has been Regina, his wife of 30 years, their five children and nine grandchildren.
Ray usually chooses the group area when he comes for his chemo treatments. “I like to socialize,” he said. “When someone is down and feeling bad, if I can put a smile on their face, make them laugh, then I’m happy. That’s my goal each time, to make someone smile. It’s a scary position to be in (having cancer). Being with other people, helps everyone understand that we’re not going through this alone.”
Ray said his positive attitude about his situation came from Dr. Roger Maillefer, the local surgeon who removed 16 inches of his colon in 2008.“He put me in good spirits, and I just stayed that way, trying not to look at the dark side. He said we’re not going to cure this thing, but we’re going to fight it as the tumors come and go. I’ve never asked THE question and never will. I don’t want to know,” Ray said.
Dr. Siddiqui says he sees it every day: a positive attitude is the best medicine. “There are medications now that help with nausea and fatigue. But patients with a positive attitude have less side effects,” the doctor said.