My Journey These Last Two Deadful Years

 

In 2010 I lost my husband to cancer. A few days before his passing I had a routine mammogram and the spots were discovered. Few days after his funeral I had a follow-up mammogram and ultrasound and it was concluded that the spots would just be observed. Two years later cancer developed. I wanted the bilateral mastectomy at that point but my surgeon at the time advised against it. With hindsight I should not have listen to him. He did not get clean margins the first time had to go back and do it a second time and had to take muscle. It was an extremely difficult recovery. I followed up with the radiologist and did 30 some odd rounds of radiation. The radiologist also had me begin the clinical trial. In the clinical trial they tested me for HER2, found I was positive +3, it was aggressive. Being in the trial made me very fearful so I withdrew with the knowledge my cancer was fed not my estrogen or progesterone at that time but by HER2.
I found my medical oncologist, who was referred by a friend when I requested a second opinion for my treatment plan. I like the medical oncologist and chose to make him my primary cancer doctor. He recommended I take tamoxifen for five years. But I had every reaction to that drug that you can have. He took me off that drug and gave me anastrozole. It’s only side effect was bone loss. I did develop osteopenia. As I do with everything I researched the drug and found it does target HER2. I took it for almost two years confident it was helping me. And I believe it did.
While visiting my daughter in Ohio earlier this year I discovered a suspicious area had developed again in my breast. I visited my oncologist once I return home. He assured me he was 99% sure it was nothing but we would do the diagnostic mammogram ultrasound just so that I would have peace of mind. However, after the mammogram the radiologist came in and told me I needed to have a biopsy. Plus there was suspicious spots identified in the other breast that they would again watch. Biopsy concluded I had cancer again, triple positive +3 this time. Oncologist recommended the mastectomy because the cancer I had would continue occur over and over and eventually develop somewhere else. This was my only option for survival. If it was invasive I would have to have chemotherapy, herceptin and I was dreading it. But would have done it. I want to live!
I found a different surgical team this time around.  After my bilateral surgery, the radiology report revealed the cancer was contained noninvasive and they got it all. As my oncologist said, I am cancer free. There is no where for the cancer to return because the breast were removed. And I don’t have to have any more treatment. I get to live. I call that a miracle!!!
I believe him because he had everything to gain financially by giving me treatment for the next five years. But he is honest and told me I do not need to have it or deal with the side effects. I respect his expertise in treating my cancer. It’s imperative you find a medical team that you trust.
I am now in the reconstructive phase. And looking forward to living a full complete life. Thankful for what I’ve learned. Looking forward to helping as many women as I can who are going through this nightmare.  Rejoicing I get to live!
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Beauty

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I remember when my babies were in diapers. It seems that they were in diapers for eternity. My late husband used to say he couldn’t wait until he didn’t have to buy diapers anymore.

Then came prostate cancer. It seemed as soon as we stopped buying baby diapers we had to begin buying adult diapers.

This morning I’m reminded of that comment he made. We battled cancer for 17 long horrendous years. I hated that my husband died of cancer. I hate it when he drew his last breath. But I must admit I was so thankful to not be battling cancer anymore. I’ve not yet hit the five-year mark from the day he died that dreadful day. And I sit here battling my own cancer for 3 months now.

My beauty was attacked, my breast. Well I am still beautiful. I am still desirable and someday I will be remarried; have no idea who to. . . AND I will make my future husband the happiest man in the world because THAT is who and what I am. And I get to rebuild my breast even more beautifully prefect than before.

Cancer you suck! But I have a hope and a future! I will LIVE AND NOT DIE!!!

What’s Lost

I was recently reading an article that boasted about what the author had gained over the years. I know better than to dwell too deeply on what I read. I have become an avid reader again this last year. I read everything, almost from novels to news articles and everything in between. I still dislike horror but love a good mystery.

The author of the article stated he had gained: a marriage, a career, a house and some security over the years as he aged. He also proceeded to disclose what he had lost. I had become too distracted by what he gained to even begin to be focused on what he thought he has lost. He gained everything I have lost in an instant. He too could lose all of that and more in an instant.

I wonder, more than sometimes, more like often, if people really realize how fragile life actually is. Sure we all know we could die in an instant. But there is something even more devastating than dying. Actually, dying is more merciful than being left behind. Being left behind and having my world crumble around me is by far the worst thing that has ever happened to me.

You may say or think I have not known or felt tragedy but you’d be mistaken. You see I was raised by abusive people. From what I have been told by relatives I was beaten up at 6 weeks and thrown into a trash can left for dead by my birth dad. I was abused physically, mentally and sexually by numerous male family members including my step dad, uncle, brother and strangers. I was a shooting victim at a bank robbery where I used to work. I was struck by lightening while riding in a car which gave me a stroke. I could go on but you get the picture. I have had opportunity to grow and thrive through a lot of adversity.

So on that fateful day when I lost my husband I had no idea everything I knew would be taken from me in the following weeks. Living through this loss has been the worst nightmare I have ever had to endure.

It has been 3 long years and I have almost depleted my savings. I work hard not to dwell on my uncertain future. I continue to apply for jobs only to be turned down, I am not so young anymore. Too young to draw any benefits so I must find find work. I, like the author of the article I am reading, had a marriage that I thought would last and we would grow old together, retire and move into eternity together. I though I had a career that was secure, after all I earned a doctorate, I am educated! I thought I would be able to keep my house, but it just was not so. I though I had some financial security for when I grow old, but I am thankful I have it so I can live on it now. In an instant, in a twinkling of an eye it all changed, never to be the same again.

Life is fragile. It is meant to be lived now and enjoyed now. We are not promised tomorrow or even today.

I Miss

I miss my life. I miss the past simple as that. I miss the people that used to be in my life. I miss the familiar. I miss the comfortable. I miss feeling loved and at least thinking I was accepted. I miss what I was. I liked what I was and who I was. I miss me. I don’t even know who I am now. I have not landed on my feet and may not. I don’t want to keep looking backwards but when there is nothing to look forward to backwards is all there is. Yes, backwards nearly killed me. Yes, backwards was abusive. Yes, backwards is not where I belong anymore but it is better than this emptiness I currently living in.

I feel like I am imprisoned with myself and cannot escape.

Veterans Day 11/11/2002

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He died while watching a John Wayne movie. He simply fell asleep in his chair and never woke up.

He was in active duty in Korea, US Navy. When he returned home from the war he was not the same. He suffered severe depression and was hospitalized. In those days they did not know how to treat depression so over 100 electric shock treatments were administered to him by the VA Hospital. He was fried and diagnosed as having schizophrenia. But as one VA case worker told me many years later, he believed the schizophrenia was caused form the PTSD and the shock treatments.

I was the only one at the grave side service that winter day sitting on that cold concrete bench. Just me and a minister who said the prayer.

There was my Dad’s coffin draped with the American flag. Taps was played but it seemed distant and far away. Then the two solders ceremonially folded the flag into that familiar triangle. The female soldier came and kneeled at my feet and presented the flag to me saying in almost a whisper, “On behalf of the President of the United States and the Chief of Naval Operations, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved one’s service to this Country and a grateful Navy.” Her eyes were so full of compassion and I could tell her heart was breaking. Was it because she saw my utter loneliness or because I was there completely alone at such a difficult time? I will never know.
Then much to my surprise, three shots rang out.

And as quickly as it began it was over.