Keaau’s Cindy Kay taking a positive approach to cancer
When I was in college I was forced to read Voltaire and probably didn’t understand the true meaning of what he had written at the time.
Now that I am older and much more experienced in life I have come to grasp the ideas of this famous historian/philosopher.
In preparing my story on Cindy Kay my thoughts quickly went to Voltaire’s writing when he said, “Life is a shipwreck but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.”
Cindy Kay is indeed a singer. Not long ago she was diagnosed with colon cancer and her positive thoughts and energy has transformed her into a positive role model for the thousands of people who are diagnosed with one of the scariest diseases thrust upon our modern day society.
Kay, a 12th grade psychology, sociology, geography, global studies teacher at Keaau High, had skipped her colonoscopy at the recommended age of 50, but finally agreed to have the procedure done at age 53 and a half.
“When I woke up from my colonoscopy the doctor was telling me I had a tumor and three days later the lab confirmed it was a 5 centimeter cancerous tumor,” Kay said.
Two weeks later Kay had surgery done to remove the tumor.
“Prior to surgery I had many test and many more doctor visits,” she said. “Without a doubt the colonoscopy saved my life as the cancer did not spread to the lymph nodes.”
Kay was born in Tripler Hospital in 1957 and came to the Big Island because this is where she wanted to raise her children.
“The Big Island is an area where my kids (2 boys and 2 girls) could play outside, ride their bikes, and do kid stuff and not have to worry about traffic and the other problems associated with living in the big city,” Kay said.
To stay fit Kay joined the Kamehameha Canoe Club where she paddles during the summer months and the University of Hawaii at Hilo canoe club with whom she works out during the off season.
“I walk some and I maintain a positive mental attitude which helps me to remain healthy,” she said.
It wasn’t easy for Kay to accept the news that she had cancer, but her attitude remained positive which helped her deal with the situation.
“I was shocked when I got the news that I had a tumor, much less a cancerous one,” she said. “I thought I would just have the procedure (colonoscopy), everything would be good and then I wouldn’t need to have it done again for another 10 years.”
Following the surgery Kay made the best of the situation, all the time willing to talk with others about her health problems.
“Sharing in itself is good therapy,” she said. “I have a supportive network of friends that are willing to listen and help me through some of the difficult parts.”
Kay had always maintained a healthy lifestyle, taking vitamins and doing all the required checkups, but had put off her colonoscopy for three and a half years beyond the required age.
“My biggest weakness is that I enjoy eating,” she said. “For years I’ve been dealing with watching my weight and from time to time have found it difficult to lose weight.”
Following the surgery Kay had high blood pressure so she has made a conscious effort to watch the amount of sodium she consumes.
“I also eat breakfast and lunch now,” she said. “In the past I would only eat supper, but now I see the value in eating throughout the day.”
Kay is also a big salad eater, but realizes that she also needs to add more fruit to her daily diet.
Kay’s recommendations to anyone approaching the big 5-0?
“I’d recommend that everyone get a colonoscopy at age 50 like the doctors recommend,” Kay said. “The worst part of the procedure is drinking the liquid the day before.”
Kay found that walking while drinking the solution helped reduce the effects of the bloated feeling of drinking the liquid solution.
Since learning that she had cancer Kay continued to maintain a positive attitude.
“I knew I would be okay,” she said. “I had to see my grandkids grow up, watch my youngest daughter graduate from college and know that all the other kids were doing well and were happy.”
Her youngest, Kristie, is a junior at Northern Arizona University majoring in Elementary Education, while her oldest, Lewis is a nuclear engineer at Pearl Harbor. Nicole is an executive team leader at Target in Kona and Alex is a marketing specialist for HFS.
Kay’s attitude about getting the news that she had cancer was easier to take because doctors had caught it in time, before it spread and the diagnoses for full recovery was good, all due to the fact that she had a colonoscopy.
“I didn’t really dwell on the fact that I had cancer,” she said. “I’ve also come to realize that if I really want to do something that I should do it, as we never know what our future has in store for us.”
Another book thrust upon me in college was written by Leo Buscaglia who wrote, “Don’t spend your precious time asking ‘Why isn’t the world a better place?’ It will only be time wasted. The question to ask is ‘How can I make it better?’ To that there is an answer.”
And someday should you happen to see a happy, optimistic jogger come passing through your neighborhood remember to smile, say “woof” and never shy away from “Running with the Big Dog.”
Email the Big Dog at firstname.lastname@example.org.