Nichole’s Slices Of LIfe, 15 (Cancer Strikes Again)

10 06 2009

Cancer has a way of showing it’s ugly face again and again.  Just about every month I hear of someone I know of who is fighting cancer.  In May, cancer entered our close family circle once again.  This time is was not my own personal battle but that of my sister-in- law. 

We had just had a big family time the evening of the Kentucky Derby.  We all enjoyed watching that together.  T seemed normal as ever.  Just a week later she had her physical and her doctor found a mass in one of her breasts.  T didn’t show a great deal of emotion. She was very silent about her experience.    I recommended the surgeon that I had used for my mastectomy.  She had to get a mammogram and take it to the surgeon.  He then did a needle biopsy.  The first report seemed to indicate that there was not much to worry about.  I was suspicious because T told me her mass was quite large.

Finally, the surgeon told T and her husband ( my brother) that she probably did have cancer.  T decided to have a lumpectomy.  I almost begged her to have a masectomy.  Her reply was that it was still uncertain about whether she had cancer so why would she want to have a mastectomy.  Well, in my heart –I knew she had cancer. 

T and my brother didn’t seem to feel a need for folks to be in the waiting room.  I really don’t think T believed she had cancer.  Jim and I insisted on being with my brother during surgery.  We did get to visit T in her holding area for about 30 minutes.  She just didn’t seem to get it–that this might be something serious.  It was hard for me to understand their reactions.  I had a different kind of biopsy and knew that I had cancer when I went into surgery.  Their experience seemed so backwards to me.

We sat with my brother for a little over two hours.  The surgeon came out and sat down with us to tell us that T did have cancer.  He ended up removing almost half of her breast and two dozen lympth nodes to get clear margins.  He told my brother that T would definitely have to have chemotherapy and radiation.  I think my brother heard the information correctly but I still don’t think he processed it very well.

My reaction to T these almost two weeks sincer her surgery has been strange.  I have to be careful that I don’t impose my own personal bias about how she should be reacting.  It has been difficult.  She went back to work the next week to finish up her school year as a school psychologist.  I just couldn’t believe she did that.  Now she and my brother are on a two week trip to visit their grandsons.  Maybe she is just trying to soak up as much of life before treatment as she can.  I just know that our stories of how we both reacted to cancer are very different.

T missed her yearly exam last year.  I can’t imagine why– because she has good health insurance.  And T never does breast self exams.  Cancer came and creeped into her life.  Women in their 50’s and older are very prone to get breast cancer regardless of whether there is a family history.  Please ladies–don’t skip those yearly exams and don’t neglect doing a personal breast exam once a month.

In 2007 I found out I had breast cancer.  However, I had never skipped a year.  I was tempted to skip the whole mammogram thing that year.  But because I didn’t– my breast cancer was found very early.  I didn’t have to have chemotherapy or radiation.

T has a long road ahead of her.  We all will be supporting her and my brother with prayers.  We will do all we can to help her.  It is  very devastating to have cancer strike our family once again.

So what else have I been doing this past month?   I finished out my school year as a substitute teacher. I’ve been getting back to working with potted plants.  I had lost interest for a couple of years.  The ones I had –I watered but I didn’t  do much else.  Now I’m working on creating new plants through my cuttings.  I’m also enjoying reading.  If push comes to shove a book always wins over blogging.  I’m also working on learning my choir music.  We sing without instruments and I sing alto.  I have a huge notebook of music to be working on. 

We have our own priest now at our mission church.  He is not with us yet because he is still trying to wrap things up in Canada.  However, he came down for a couple of weeks during the Easter season.  And today he just left after visiting with us for another couple of weeks.  He came and blessed our home last week. We also had a wonderful social after church.  We had a gathering at the home of one of our parish family.  She cooked a very full and fancy meal for us.  Most of didn’t leave until 6:45 p.m.  It was just a wonderful time of food and fellowship. 

Our priest will be back  to our parish–along with his family– by the first of July.  This time they will be fully moved.  He found a home for them to rent and has already ordered a specific date for the moving company.  We are very excited to have our first full time priest at our Christian Orthodox Church.

I hope not to be so long in writing again.  I am busy though–still making many trips to Nashville for Jim’s health needs.  I also take care of our grandsons most of these summer days.  Vera is gone for the summer.  She is an intern with a new Orthodox ministry in Kansas City,Mo.  We have missed her a great deal.  There is a possibility that this internship will turn into a job.  We are happy for her if it does but our hearts ache with missing her.

May these summer days provide many blessing to each of you!

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