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!


Exblick said...


Why is it that your words are always so timely for me? I feel weepy for your success and wish that my Dad (of my husband) had your tenacity.

Jimi said...

A Happy special Anniversary to ya Ramble! Another wish for many, many more to enjoy!

Anonymous said...

We are all blessed by your daughter's wisdom in making you see that doctor!

Katie said...

Congrats, Ramble. I second what Grandma said!

Jadedgirl said...

Oh Ramble! Happy Happy Happy Anniversary! I saw first hand what radiation and chemo can do to a body, and I applaud your spirit for getting through it! Cheers to you, hon! And you are SO right about doctors being "employees" and not God. You have to trust your own judgement sometimes and leave it up to whatever higher power you might believe in, instead.

SO proud of you, survivor!


Diane Vespa said...

Congratulations on 10 years of being cancer-free. That is truly something to be proud of!