You have Cancer ! Paula’s journey shared –
NOTE: That Woman- I am no stranger to the look on a doctor’s face and those words- You have Cancer – you really only hear the one word CANCER as your world spins ,dives, a tiltawhirl of emotions, questions and terror, invade your being.
I have blogged about my son Chris and the “curable” Hodgkin’s Lymphoma that wasn’t cured.
Every day searches come to this blog looking for answers and a way through . I still cannot find the strength to document Chris’s journey, the hospitals , the treatment , his thoughts as he went through . I know his journey and the information would help these people who search but I am just not brave enough to start back on that time and relive those days, it is bad enough I daily relive his passing.
However, the same cannot be said of my dear and beautiful friend Paula – she has put herself aside once again to help others. Cancer will find its obscene way into every family, none of us are immune , and because it has found its mark once does not mean we have paid our dues to this vile disease. Paula is a member of one such family.
After you read Paula’s words if you have any questions or need any information she has agreed to answer personal emails , if she can be of help. Please email me at Lorritch7@gmail.com and I will forward them
“You have Stage 3 aggressive cancer.”
You’d think it was the beginning of my journey with cancer, it wasn’t. I’ve been to this rodeo with others before, Frank’s pancreatic 11 years ago, my sister-in-law’s brain cancer, the dozens of families and patients we’ve worked with over the years. It wasn’t even the first time I thought I had ovarian cancer; it probably began a year prior.
I had someone ask
“What did you think when you were told?”
My answer was,
“What have I done to my family?”
I was told “Keep strong” but I learned it takes a lot of strength to ask for help and to accept help.
You don’t have to tough out the pain, physical or mental. In fact, I realized that keeping a positive outlook gives the chemo the chance to work. I’m sure we’ve all heard that stress can cause cancer, so don’t give it a chance.
Sleep is a luxury and is needed to heal; you can’t help but be emotional if you aren’t getting your sleep.
People don’t usually know what to say or do when someone has cancer. Instead of asking what can I do, just do it.
Example: Ask what day and what dish shall you bring. It’s winter, shovel their driveway, call and say I’m going grocery shopping what do you need, better yet tell them to start a list each week and you usually go on Wednesday, call the day before and get their list. We’ve become Drug Marts best customer, if you’re going to a drug store call and ask if you can pick something up. I was amazed at how excited I became over surprise gifts and cards.
Always be positive when talking to a cancer patient, I had many nice compliments on my scarves or my outfit. I had an issue with wigs, we won’t even go into the horror of losing your hair, my Ob/Gyn had the best comment: “it’s only temporary”.
Back to the wig, I have a big fat Irish head, wigs from the American Cancer Society were too small. My insurance didn’t cover cranial prosthesis (even though it would have been cheaper than one prescription) After special ordering, the order was mixed up and wasn’t going to be ready until one month before chemo was to end, I said forget it
I have been touched by complete strangers care.
I have the best Healthcare Team. They are associated with St. John’s Westshore/University Hospital. I wanted to go to University of Pittsburgh Medical Center where Frank was cured, but our insurance wouldn’t cover completely and I knew we’d be getting into the hundreds of thousands by the end
My General physician is Dr.Pete Gotsis, my oncology surgeon is Dr. Kristine Zanotti, my Ob/Gyn is Dr. Michele Belardo, my oncologist is Dr.Richard Chang.
Their support staff, their nurses are phenomenal, they’ve loved and taken care of me at the worst moments of my life.
I always said three factors saved Frank from the 3% survival rate he was faced with:
1. Early Detection
2. Great Healthcare Providers
3. The Best Prayer Chains/People in the World
I also learned in my previous experiences knowledge is power, but this time I couldn’t research my own disease, I always seemed to end up on the worst sites, the worst statistics, the horror stories. It was overwhelming, so I do my best to stay away. I even had survivors share the worst and unfortunately it was at the wrong time of day to reach out to my oncology team to help me with the information.
Best advice I received from a support group on the East Coast was,
“Pay no attention to those numbers. They’re five years old, you’re unique.”
Be grateful for everything, let others help.
Feeling alone, close your eyes and imagine all those past and present that love you and are thinking/praying for you
Try to find something to be thankful for each day, no matter how small. Sometimes for me it was “tomorrow is another day”. But I was always thankful for my family close and extended, (especially Frank and my mother who were always there) my girls for their love, care and concern and all my friends who would call and check without being asked. I have so much, I pray for those who have no one.
I’m not used to being on this side of the disease. I was always the problem solver, I was the caregiver, I was the researcher, I was the advocate.
But if I can help someone avoid some or all of the pitfalls of the C word I want to give back. Please let Loraine know and she’ll forward, we can speak candidly and confidentially.
I remember the one time I felt like myself, I was waiting to go in for chemo, at the reception window an elderly gentlemen came to the window to ask the receptionist how to get the coffee from the carafe. I told her I’d help him, took him over and demonstrated how it worked; it was so meaningful to help someone again.