You have Cancer ! Paula’s journey shared –

March 27, 2013 at 1:23 pm 16 comments


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 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.

stJohnsWestShore logo

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.

Entry filed under: Chris Ritchey, health, medical, Women of Worth. Tags: , , , , , .

A Time with Time Warner- Lorain City Council Time Warner saga- another custoMEr- Ree’s Blog

16 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Rich Robbin  |  March 27, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    Nothing to say here. Having been thru my own form of cancer, I can only wish this wonderful woman nothing but the best! Thoughts and prayers are always withher!

  • 2. Don Killinger  |  March 27, 2013 at 3:55 pm

    Wishing and praying for you, the very best, Paula.

  • 3. Dennis Flores  |  March 27, 2013 at 5:29 pm

    I’m already praying for a family member, so it will be no problem to include you in those prayers too. PMA all the way I say, positive mental attitude!

  • 4. Debi Palmer  |  March 27, 2013 at 6:26 pm

    My husband and I love this woman and her family! They are the most positive, giving and non selfish people you will ever meet! We have no doubt she will beat this with the love from those around her and the determination she has to beat it! Stay positive Paula and who cares about hair when you have a beautiful smile to wear!!! We love you and we’re here for you!!!! xoxo

  • 5. Paula  |  March 27, 2013 at 8:10 pm

    Thanks everyone, your kindness is much appreciated.

  • 6. Andy Drwal  |  March 27, 2013 at 8:57 pm

    Seeing you and your husband at the public hearing on Monday was nice to see. I haven’t seen you there for awhile and now I know why. Prayers and stay strong, as I know you will.

  • 7. Mark  |  March 28, 2013 at 12:34 am

    Been a long time, Paula. I think of you and Frank when I pass your home on the way to and from work. I’ll be saying a prayer every time I pass your home now.

  • 8. Liz  |  March 28, 2013 at 2:24 am

    When dad was diagnosed with cancer I knew the odds were stacked against him. But I always had this little voice of “knowing it will be ok”. This time with mom it’s been easier to deal with. I have a good support system. I’m taking better care of myself. And again somehow I “know everything will be fine”. This is just another journey for us to experience, another opportunity to learn and grow, a chance to be thankful for what we have.

  • 9. Renee Dore  |  March 28, 2013 at 3:18 am

    Dear Paula, I remember how diligent & attentive you were when Frank was coming for treatments-you impressed me so much as a caring wife wanting the best for her husband. We now all have our best thoughts for you. I often think about you & wonder how you are doing. It’s a battle-that’s for certain-but your strength & support & prayers will have on the winning side. Please take care, if you need anything let me know, Renee

  • 10. Carolyn Sipkovsky  |  March 28, 2013 at 4:20 am

    Paula, we are thinking & praying for you. My sister told me how much she appreciated your conversations with her during her unsuccessful fight with pancreatic cancer which ended two years ago on Easter.

  • 11. muley  |  March 28, 2013 at 11:20 am

    prayers from afar….

  • 12. Aunt Joaners  |  April 1, 2013 at 1:04 am

    My dearest Paula and Frank and girls, You have been part of my heart from when we first met over 30 years ago and always will be. Your strength, love and commitment to each other and those in your life are such examples for those around you. This new “journey” you are on will only make you stronger in the long run and as you know you will never be on it alone. Mom and Frank as well as the girls have always been there for you as will I. I love you most and am once again in awe of this courageous loving woman I am so proud to call my dear dear friend.

  • 13. Paula  |  April 8, 2013 at 6:04 pm

    Please call your representative today:

    The threat to the cancer community has brought together more than 175 national organizations for a Rally for Medical Research that is taking place TODAY in Washington, D.C.
    Thousands of Americans are uniting in person and over the phone to urge Congress to make lifesaving medical and cancer research funding a national priority.

    Contact Rep. Marcy Kaptur
    Washington, D.C. Office:
    2186 Rayburn House Office Building,
    District of Columbia 20515-3509
    Phone:(202) 225-4146

    Contact Sen. Sherrod Brown
    Washington, D.C. Office:
    713 Hart Senate Office Building,
    District of Columbia 20510-3503
    Phone:(202) 224-2315

    Contact Sen. Rob Portman
    Washington, D.C. Office:
    448 Russell Senate Office Building,
    District of Columbia 20510-3504
    Phone:(202) 224-3353

  • […] This is a guest blog post by my wonderful friend – Paula Tobias- Paula has been fighting her own battle with Ovarian Cancer – […]

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March 2013

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