Healing and recovery from a life-threatening disease is usually facilitated by the support of family, friends and caring, competent health professionals. This is one patient's very honest story about the challenges and discoveries she made while pursuing the path to wellness after a diagnosis of breast cancer in 2003.
This memoir chronicles a year-long journey through treatment and the return to wellness. It is intended to provide information and inspiration that might empower others facing cancer, either personally or on behalf of loved ones. Marshall all the resources available, beginning with your faith and inner spirit, then reaching out to wider and wider circles of family, friends and healing professionals. Life i worth fighting for!
Bill looked at me across his desk. "The radiologist in the lab says it's cancer. The tumor is still small, less than two centimeters, but it needs to be removed. I'll call the doctor to see how soon they can get you on the surgery schedule. Is that okay?"
"Of course," I said, grateful that he had a plan of action while I was momentarily stunned and struggling to think straight. I wandered down the hall to where Laura was watching the big holiday parade televised from downtown Seattle. I waved to catch her eye because she is deaf.
[Squarely confronting my demons has always worked best for me. No easy way the share bad news like this. I don't know the sign language vocabulary to discuss cancer. I'll have to fingerspell. Laura's smart; she'll get it. And not fatalistic, so she'll handle it okay.]
"I have breast cancer," I signed and spelled, pointing to the area on my left breast in which the tumor was discovered. She asked how I knew. I related to her some details of the testing and diagnosis I'd received only moments earlier. "Your dad is making an appointment for an operation to get the growth removed. We'll get it taken care of." She nodded and returned to watching TV.
Aware that Katie was at the computer in the next room, and knowing she'd overheard the investigative phone conversations I'd been having, I moved on to discuss the situation with her. She stood up, gathering me in her comforting embrace. "Oh, Mom, are you feeling okay?"
[A hug...I needed that! Depend on Katie to sense my fear. I need to reassure her.]
Well, I don't feel sick, only scared; maybe sad, and a little angry. Im sorry this has come up now, with the holidays ahead of us and your graduation in two weeks. Bummer, huh?"
"Will surgery cure the cancer?" she asked as her eyes filled with tears.
"That'll start the process, but the treatment will probably be more extensive. Some women have just the lump removed; some have the whole breast removed,or maybe both breasts. There are oral medicines and chemical treatments like blood transfusions. My friend, Dorle, goes to Seattle for chemo infusions every few weeks. I think she also had radiation treatments. At any rate, I'm not canceling any of our plans as long as I'm feeling okay. Dad and I will made some calls and get more information. I'll let you know what we find out."