A Prayer for the Newly Diagnosed (inspired by Bill)

May your fears be made less

by the love of

family and friends

May the healers who

treat you

be skilled as well as kind

May you be able to

ask for and accept help

without shame or regret

May you have guardian angels

lighting your way

in the darkest of times

And may God bless you

with courage

strength

and faith

to face

whatever lies

ahead

Amen.

 

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The colors of Cancer

The colors of Cancer

Everyone knows October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and the color pink has become synonymous with the fight against this deadly disease. However, let’s not forget all the other cancers people are fighting every day as well. I found this chart and wanted to pass it along to help raise awareness and encourage everyone to come together to fight all cancer.

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Chemo Brain + Lupus Fog = I can’t remember a d*mn thing

So, I’m sitting in my Rheumatologist’s waiting room the other day watching a video they’re showing on Lupus.  One of the symptoms they highlighted was memory problems, otherwise known as Lupus Fog.  It’s experienced by many people who have Lupus, and can include difficulty concentrating, confusion and, what was that other thing? Oh yeah, memory problems. A-ha, I thought!  That’s probably what’s been going on with me – add in my Chemo Brain (memory loss from chemotherapy) and that explains why I can’t remember a thing these days.  At home, my kids and spouse have come to accept the fact that if they ask me to do something, there’s a good chance that I’ll say yes, then promptly forget.  My daughter has gone from exclaimimg, “really, Mommy?” when I forget to make her tea that she just asked me for, to saying, “I know what you’re probably going to say, but did you make my tea, Mommy – it’s ok if you forgot.”  At work, I’m constantly forgetting what task I’m in the middle of, especially if someone interrupts me.  I was making copies for a coworker who was doing a project for me – then my boss called me in her office to ask me something. After a few minutes, I returned to my coworker, who was sitting doing nothing. I said, “oh! you’re done already?” And, he said, “no! I’m waiting for the copies you’re making me.” Oh, right, the copies. 

I’ve come to laugh at my fogginess, but it can be frustrating and it certainly isn’t going to win me employee of the month.  So, when I finally got into the room to speak to my Rheumatologist, what did I do?  We were reviewing my symptoms and, guess what? Yup – I forgot to tell him about my memory issues.  Figures!

“Is Mommy Going to Die?”

My oldest daughter was 5 1/2 years old when I was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer in 2011. My youngest daughter was only 2 1/2. One of the most difficult things was figuring out how to talk to my kids about my illness and not scare them to death – because I was scared to death myself. Luckily, my youngest wasn’t able to understand much more than, “mommy has boo-boos and doesn’t feel good”, but my oldest understood something was seriously wrong. My partner talked to her alone one day and explained that I had cancer and needed treatment and some operations. She teared up and asked, “Is mommy going to die?” What a terrible thing for someone so young to have to ask. Having cancer is traumatic enough, having to comfort and reassure your kids in the middle of it all makes it even harder. Fortunately, I didn’t have to do it alone. I asked my Oncologist for help on how to talk to my kids and she gave me great suggestions. She also reassured me that, years from now, my illness would be a distant memory for my girls and not something that would have a lasting, negative impact on them. My partner and I also got help from Gilda’s Club, a free cancer support community that has groups for patients, caregivers, and children. My oldest daughter started attending “Noogieland”, a support group for kids who have a family member with cancer. They provided support, education, therapeutic activities and an opportunity for her to be with other kids like herself, going through similar experiences. The counselors there gave me suggestions on how to explain things to her and how to help her express her feelings. We made it through, but there were some difficult times. It broke my heart when I couldn’t pick my kids up anymore or dance and play with them like I used to because of the chemo and surgeries. They missed that terribly, and so did I. We made adjustments though, and I cuddled with them as much as I could and tried to do things with them when I was having my good days. Losing my hair from the chemo was also a shock to them. My oldest started crying when she first saw me bald. But, kids are resilient, and they quickly adjusted to my new look and had fun helping me try on different hats and scarves. Now that I’m healthy again, I can dance and play with them like I used to. I can even pick up my youngest daughter still, but my oldest is a little too big for me now. My kids were a great support and motivator to get better and, even though I hate that they had to go through it, I thank God that they were a part of my journey.

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Daily Digest for October 11, 2013

It’s hard to believe that this time two years ago, I was preparing to go into the hospital for my mastectomy.  It had been an overwhelming and scary 6 months since I had been first diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer in April, 2011.  My life was turned upside down and things haven’t been the same since.  Sometimes, all that seems like a lifetime away, and other times it feels like only yesterday.  On October 19th, 2011,  I had a modified radical mastectomy and had over 20 lymph nodes removed.  A few days later, my Oncologist called to tell me I was officially cancer free.  As I look back, I am so grateful to have made it through and for the lessons I have learned.  October is national Breast Cancer awareness month, but for me it will always be even more significant, because it’s the month that I beat cancer and was blessed with a second chance at life. 

Mesothelioma Information

Mesothelioma Information

Recently, I was contacted by the community outreach coordinator for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance and asked if I could share some information on this rare form of cancer. Honestly, I didn’t know much about Mesothelioma until I read the fact sheet above and started looking at some sites online. What struck me is the fact that this disease is tied directly and most singularly to asbestos exposure, yet asbestos can still be found in homes, workplaces and even schools. I also learned that, despite the decline in the current day use of asbestos, the rate of Mesothelioma occurrence remains steady. The reason? It can take between 20 – 50 years after exposure to asbestos for symptoms to occur. Please take a moment to read the fact sheet and visit sites like the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance http://www.mesothelioma.com to become more educated on this rare and preventable form of cancer.

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