Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Milestone Anniversary

I have "celebrated" my 10th anniversary. My life changed, strangely for the better, in September 1997. That is when I heard three very scary words, "you have cancer". Thoughts raced through my mind. The one that stuck was, "How do I tell my kids, especially my daughter?" She was only 17 and had already lost her father to lung cancer. The Radiologist met with me and help me find the right words.

It had been my daughter who insisted I go to the Doctor in the first place. I had not been for twelve years! Everything was fine until I was called back for a second set of mammograms. Then off for sonograms and eventually the dreaded needle biopsy.

Appointments with the radiation doctor, the oncologist and ultimately the final meeting with the surgeon. The Radiologist and the Oncologist had both been quite optimistic. It was with the Surgeon I had a problem. Despite the course of treatment recommended by the first two, the surgeon made the mistake of saying the word "mastectomy". At that time, I uttered words that I couldn't believe I said. I have always had a great deal of respect for Doctors and I guess I felt they were doing me a favor by seeing me.

No more! I said and I quote, "If you want to continue to talk to a rational, reasonable human being, you will not say that word again." I had been told that through radiation, chemotherapy and tamoxifin afterwards that the prognosis was good. I told the surgeon that there would be a lumpectomy and I would follow the recommended course of treatment. If cancer returned, we would talk about more extreme treatment then.

Surgery was October 7, 1997. Three tiny lumps were malignant, but the lymph nodes were clear! Chemo was an experience. Horrible mouth sores, no matter how many ice chips I ate. Lived on tomato soup for a long time. I actually liked the bald look and have pretty much kept the hair short since. Radiation went smoothly, no severe burns. Other than five days in the hospital when the hemoglobin went "south" (thank goodness for blood transfusions and Procrit). Things were good. Don't know if it happens to other women of a "certain age", but the treatment threw me right through the "change of life" with no symptoms.

Afterwards, I have taken much better care of myself. I visit the Doctors when I should, I keep active and the weight under control. I have learned that unless I put myself first, I have no room for others and without others, there is nothing.

Lessons learned:
1. Kids are smart, listen to them.
2. A Doctor is your employee, not a god.
3. Attitude is everything.
4. Refuse to be intimidated, speak up.

Happy belated anniversary to me!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Live and Let Live!

It is all around us, the center of many discussions. Whether it is the political pundits, news broadcasters and common citizens. Can a Mormon be elected President? Creation vs. evolution. Pro-life vs. Pro-choice. A Baptist minister (and Arkansas Governor) making sure the "Religious Right" has their voice heard. Separation of Church and State (or is it church from state). No prayer in schools - but a required "moment of silence" instead. Moslems are feared, even when an individual has done nothing wrong. Hell's Fire and damnation befalls all who do not believe that The Bible is the unaltered word of God.

I choose my behavior, thoughts and deeds. Not because I am looking for the "salvation of my immortal soul" but because I believe in doing what I think is right. I make mistakes and make bad decisions, but the "devil" did not make me do it. Seems to me that the athiests and agnostics are far more willing to listen to alternative views.

Tolerance? Acceptance? Where are they?

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Milestone Day!

Most of the groundhogs live outside the perimeter fence at work, but last summer, one decided to move. He dug his burrow under a sidewalk at the office. We had a great deal of fun watching him, especially on warm days when he would sun himself on the sidewalk. The guys at work named him Roger.

By the end of summer, Roger grew tired of humans and moved back to the berm outside the fence with the rest of his family.

The great thing about "Groundhog's Day" is the fact that whether or not the groundhog sees its' shadow, spring is on the way! Right now, the ground is covered with snow, but it will not be long before early daffodils and tulips will be peeking through the earth and trees will be budding.

Mid-western winters make Groundhog's Day is certainly a day to celebrate!