Friday, April 1, 2011

If anyone can walk and talk ~ it's you Jules!

Jules~ once again well written and ditto! I don't mean to steal your words but yes, me too thus, I share this letter from another Girl Scout friend of mine. She is surviving making every day a new day. She is a retired teacher, a mom, a wife, a beautiful spirit and most importantly a SURVIVOR!! Walk with this story in your heart and fight on sister!

Hello to Everyone,
Today was a CELEBRATION DAY! I have finished thirty-five radiation treatments. The last seven treatments were “booster” treatments to the scar area to zap any cancer cells left. (I don’t see how anything could be left.) Those of you who have had radiation know what it is like. My skin on my back, chest and under my arm is very red. Think of your worst sunburn ever and that pretty well tells you what my skin is like. Some skin has peeled and burned again and then peeled and burned again. I have a rash sort of like sun poisoning. It itches and burn cream helps that. (Thank goodness for Biafine.) There will be about 9-12 weeks total of burning. Dr. Sears told me today I will get a little more redder on my collar bone and chest before my skin starts to heal. The healing process should start in the next few weeks.

It will take a while before my energy level returns to “normal”. I do pretty well in the morning but I get very tired in the afternoons. Most days a short nap will perk me up and some days it takes a longer nap. I didn’t realize that some dizzy spells I have had can be caused by the radiation. The muscles at the back of my neck are sore also. I’m sure that is because of the burning. The nerve endings in my scar area will take quite a while to heal, up to a year. I hope not that long, because it feels like an electrical shock each time it happens. I know the effects of the chemotherapy may take up to a year to completely go away. Most of the terrible metallic is gone. Hopefully my hearing will return in my right ear. Right now, it is muffled. I am no longer wearing a wig. My hair is about an inch and a half long. Thank goodness for spring and warmer temperatures. I may be finished with chemo and radiation but the healing continues on.

A friend has told me there was a “ME” before cancer. There was another “ME” during treatments. And now there is still a “ME” for after treatments. The old “normal” is not the new “normal”. My body has gone through several big changes with the surgeries, chemo, and radiation. I will have to find out what a new “normal” feels like because the old normal is gone. For each cancer patient, that normal is not the same, nor does it happen in the same amount of time.

I am certainly not the same person I was before cancer. Cancer has a way of making you realize what is important and who is important in your life. Before cancer, a day was just another day. Now every day is a blessing. I am thankful for each sunrise because that means I get to live and love for another day. My birthday in February was very special. Last June when I got my diagnosis, I was not sure I would see another birthday. I may not have the most productive day every day, but I am aware of how special that day is. You can’t take your health for granted. Your health can change in a blink of an eye.Please get those mammograms and other needed tests as well as doing self exams. Who would have ever thought I would have breast cancer? I certainly didn’t.
From May 25th until today is almost ten months. What a war I have fought! It has not been just one battle, but many, many battles. Cancer is not something I would ever wish on my very worst enemy. However, I am grateful for the opportunity to have fought this fight. I have met some absolutely amazing men and women during this ten month time. They face cancer of all types and all stages with a smile and a determination to do whatever it takes to fight and win. I have heard young women and mothers with little kids and older women share their stories in the Locker Room as we get ready for our treatments. One thing we all have in common other than cancer is faith… faith in ourselves, faith in our doctors, faith in the technicians, and most importantly faith in God. I have been so fortunate to have had such remarkable and amazing doctors, nurses, technicians, schedulers, nurse navigators (who constantly checked on me), the supportive people at Cancer Services and the Susan G. Komen NC Triad affiliate. I have shared tears, words of encouragement, and glorious hugs with all of them. There is strength in numbers.
What has happened has happened. I can not change the past. I can only look forward to the future. WE don’t know what the future will bring. I have made the right decisions for me. I will have regular checkups every three months. April 13th is my next one. Hopefully if cancer rears its ugly head again, we can catch it in an early stage.
I can’t begin to thank family and friends for their support during this trying time. Steve and the girls have been wonderful. Steve didn’t miss a chemo or radiation treatment. He has spent so much time waiting for me to finish a doctor’s visit, a treatment, or just waiting for me to wake up from a nap. He has been so patient and kind. What else would you expect from “SUPER STEVE”!!! Becky and Julie, my sisters the nurses, went with me to doctors’ visits to take notes. The doctor talked but sometimes Steve and I didn’t hear what they were saying so it helped to have someone tell us later what we needed to know. Thanks for your phone calls, emails, and cards. They meant the world to us. To know you are thought of is a great soul warmer. The prayers you said helped in my cancer survival. For that I can never, ever thank you enough.

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