A Chance Meeting Brings Survivors Together
Published: May 15th, 2007
By: Jessica Lewis

A chance meeting brings survivors together

NORWICH – The Chenango County Relay for Life is a chance to bring together people whose lives have been touched by cancer. This year, two of the women marching were brought together, not by the Relay, but by cancer itself.

Three and a half years ago, Julia Whitney was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 31. Through her doctor, she was put in touch with a six-year breast cancer survivor, Martha Romahn.

“I was scared to death. I kept thinking what am I going to do,” Julia said. “Martha told me, you’ll survive. You’ll make it through.”

Martha understood what Julia was going through, having had a lumpectomy when she was diagnosed with breast cancer six years before. She helped Julia understand what was going on and what would be happening over the course of the treatment. “When you’re first told, it feels like it’s done, it’s over,” Martha said. “The not knowing is what frightened me the most.” Martha talked to Julia about chemo therapy and explained what it would feel like.

Julia’s cancer had spread to her lymph nodes, and she had to undergo an aggressive chemo therapy regiment.

“Hearing from somebody else who had been there really helped,” said Julia. The two never met. Julia had to undergo a double mastectomy. After the chemo therapy, she said she wanted to go on with the rest of her life.

Nearly three years later, Julia started working at DCMO BOCES. She was shocked when one day she heard a familiar voice. Although they had never met, Julia said Martha has a voice that is unmistakable. “I approached her and said I think I know you,” Julia said.

Martha, who owned The Bagel Buddy in Norwich prior to joining the BOCES staff, thought she probably knew Julia from her previous job. She was floored when Julia asked if she was a cancer survivor.

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