Monthly Archives: August 2011

Cancer Journal-Part 4

Dear Readers,

     Thank you for your faithfulness.  Here is Part 4….

     Cancer Journal- Part 4

     August 14, 2003- Thursday

     Breakfast with CJ after finishing up some household chores.  Simple!  Why is it that all of a sudden the simple things in my life seem so precious and I find myself looking at everything, just everything, in such a different way?  Almost like jumping out of one dimension, into another.  A never before experienced dimension!  Like, not having to worry anymore about the little things that I have spent the last 60 years worrying about.  Things other people do and think don’t seem to matter now.  What matters seems to be sifted in my brain.  An "I don’t care" feeling sweeps over me.  To deep for me!  I’m going back to numb.

     August 15, 2003- Friday

     I’m sitting at my hairdresser’s shop and feeling like floating off my chair.  I just came from my post-op surgeon’s visit.  Dr. P said, "They got it all!"  Four words I was dieing to hear.  Radiation but no chemo looks good.  I was so frightened when I went in for my follow-up that I kept rebuking fear and anxiety to get behind me.

     Dr. P scared me when she began to speak.  She thought I was being told for the first time about the cancer diagnosis, so I interrupted her, "Did they get it all?" I asked.

     "Yes!"

     "Do I need chemotherapy?"

     "No, I don’t think so!"

     "That’s all I need to know today," I told her, and took my pathology report and got up and left.  Now I’m sitting at the hairdressers reading it.  I can’t figure out much, just that my cancer is very rare and they cut it all out.

     I have never in my life felt this out of control.  At the mercy of the doctor reports, pathology reports, ultra sound readings and more.  I have never cried out to God so deeply with nothing to say to Him but, "Please don’t leave me!"  I also have never felt God more in control of me than now.

     How fragile I have discovered life is.  I know words like mine have been written many times before and said a thousand different ways, but God enlightened me to a whole different dimension of my life.  He’s definitely got my attention.  Now, I’m wondering why?  This experience in my life has nothing to do with proper diet, it has nothing to do with genes, and nothing to do with the environment.  It has to do with God and what He wants from me.

     August 25, 2003-Monday-Ten days later.

     Sadness and depression are setting in today.  Last Wednesday I got a call telling me I need to have surgery again and also have a cat scan, and it will delay the start of my radiation for 6 or 8 weeks.  CJ and I decided to run away for a few days and go camping.  He called in sick and we threw our clothes in the truck and left.  Now it’s Monday and after four glorious days at the campground, reality has set back in, major hard.  I can’t seem to snap out of it.  It’s only been two and a half weeks since my last surgery and I thought my treatment was half over.  (Surgery and then radiation!  I can do this!)  But now I’m back to day one.  It’s like I’ve just started all over again.  They want more tissue my doctor called and told me.  I know I was warned that this might happen, but why, Lord, why?

     The days seem to fly by sometimes, and other days drag on.  I’ve lost interest in reading my bible and going on my morning walks.  I just want to run away.  I have severe highs and lows.  I called my school bus company and told them I couldn’t take the part-time job they were training me for.  It’s just as well.  I would have had a tough time with surgery again and radiation every day for several weeks.

     August 31, 2003- Sunday

     My second surgery is scheduled for 6AM on Tuesday after Labor Day.  I just cleaned the whole house so I don’t have to think about it for a couple of weeks.  This house stays clean easily, thank God.  We didn’t schedule anything this Labor Day weekend.  Cal is just working on building a shed and trying to give me some time to rest and be quiet.

     I just talked to my son and promised to call more often.  He wants me to buy a book he suggested entitled, "Rich Dad-Poor Dad."  He says it will help me to know what I want to do with the rest of my life.  I sure do see change coming in my future.

     September 4, 2003- Thursday

     I feel so alone.  It’s like I’ve lost six months of my life.  My daughter is not speaking to me because I yelled at her over nothing.  She’s my best friend.  I can’t seem to take interest in anything.  I can’t read my bible for any length of time.  If I’m not crying or laughing, I’m sleeping.  Endlessly I watch boring TV or movies.  It’s two days since my second surgery on my left breast and I hurt all over.  I talk to people and only tell them I’m doing great.  That this is all a joke and therefore isolate myself even more.  Guilt overwhelms me when I’m not there for others, and I sense at the same time that noone is there to help me.  But, when people do offer help I blow it off and say, "I’m fine, I don’t need any help!"

     I can’t remember feeling this out of control of my life since my rape over 10 years ago.  It’s triggering back all the trauma, all the anger, all the denial, all the feelings of being trapped, all the "I don’t need anyone" emotions, and yet I feel totally helpless.

     September 5, 2003- Friday

     As I sit watching a concert and sense the passion of my old self today for the first time since my second surgery last Tuesday, I realize I’m on a "High Swing" today.  It’s a "Glad to be alive" day.  The sun is shining, the temperature is in the 70’s, it’s just a beautiful day.  I’m pain free, a little energetic, more alert, better in general.  The sunshine definitely helps a lot as well.

     "Thank you God, that I don’t have to worry about going to work every day, that CJ is always there for me, that I’m progressing towards getting well, that You haven’t left me, and for Your Son Jesus who will get me to heaven no matter how badly I behave, amen."

     A call from my big sis told me her son-in-law is doing well and is now cancer free, marvelous news since he was in stage four B Cell, very bad, at the same time I discovered my cancer.  But he’s free!  Thank you Lord, thank You so much!

     Even being in stage one, the doctors are taking extra precautions with me.  In the recovery room, on my second surgery, the same nurse treated me again.  She said something to me I’ll never forget.  I told her, "I don’t ever want to see you again, Kathy!"  And she replied, "You wouldn’t be here this time if it wasn’t for your sisters!" (In other words, let’s get more tissue just to be sure!)  Better to be safe than sorry.  I hope the path reports don’t hold anymore surprises.

     I talked a lot with my sisters today.  They want to set up a get together with the three of us and our four daughters and sit and watch the "Gene Movie."  It’s about the breast cancer gene and we can talk about letting the doctors study our family because we’re so unique.  All three sisters with the same father have now had some kind of breast cancer.  And, our dad’s sister died of breast cancer many years ago.   Not really any cancer on mom’s side.  So, the doctors are wanting to study us.  It involves a blood test, and a questionnaire, that’s it.  Fear of cancellation of our health insurances kept us from doing it before, but now we have all had cancer, so why not do it!

     September 8, 2003-Monday

     I have a terrible cold and a sore boob again.  Strange things are happening to my body.  I wonder why the sharp stabbing pains in my left breast this time seem worse than the last surgery.  I know it’s only been a week.  Maybe I’m expecting to much to soon.  The kids don’t understand my mood swings and how much of a part of this trauma they are.  I think I’ll join a support group so I can talk to people who understand what having cancer is like.

     September 27, 2003

     It’s been awhile since I’ve written.  It will be three weeks tomorrow since my last surgery.  My breast is finally healed except for an occasional sharp shooting pain now and then.  After the first surgery I only had a 2" pink line.  Now, I have a small indentation as well, since more tissue and even some skin were taken this time.  All lab tests from the last surgery came back cancer free.  I knew it was just a precaution and so did my surgeon, but because of my family history again they are being extra cautious. 

     It took two weeks for my cold to clear and then I got cellulitis (an infection in the breast tissue) so I’ve just finished a 10 day regimen of antibiotics.  This caused yet another delay so I haven’t yet started my radiation treatment.  On October 7th I get a tattoo and cat scan again and two weeks after that, hopefully, radiation begins.  If I’m lucky, this will finally all be over by the holidays.  I thought it would be over by September, but I’ve discovered you can’t rush these procedures.  Delays happen, no matter what stage your cancer is in.  You have to plan on putting your normal life on hold for 6 months to a year.  Severe highs and lows are inevitable.

     Just when you think you have a handle on your emotions, something will happen that brings instant fear and loss of control, out of nowhere.  For example, my supervisor came for a visit last Thursday and I hadn’t seen him for weeks.  Sitting at my kitchen table for coffee, he announced to me that his wife has cancer again.  Five years ago she had breast cancer with only radiation.  Now she found a lump on her neck, and had it removed and it tested positive for cancer.  This time they are going to do surgery, chemo, and radiation. 

     As he told me her story, I got so frightened that they are treating my illness wrong and that I’ll get sick again and have to do this all over.  I didn’t sleep all night consumed with fear of wrong treatment for me as well.  Now I’m wondering if I should insist on having chemotherapy too.  I HATE THE FEELING OF BEING OUT OF CONTROL!  I HATE IT!!!

                                      Love in Christ,  Claire  xoxo

Part 5 next week

   

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Cancer Journal-Part 3

Dear Readers, here is part 3…

     Cancer Journal-Part 3

     All of a sudden I found myself thanking God for the pain….

     I spent the rest of the day with my daughter and granddaughters.  Several times I broke into tears when my breast ached and I again thanked God for the pain that exposed this monster.  "All things work together for those that love the Lord," I thought as I held tightly to my grandkids.  "Thank you Father, thank you so much."

     August 1, 2003-Friday

     My surgery is scheduled for next Friday, August 8th.  Preop on Tuesday.  I find myself experiencing what I call "Fear Rushes," which are attacks of sudden fear that come out of nowhere.  I can’t catch my breath, I get frightened that the doctors have missed something, that the illness is worse than they are telling me, etc.  I go blank and then realize lots of time has passed.  These panic attacks seem to be triggered from anything, like reading cancer literature, watching movies about sick people, talking about cancer, holding my grandkids, riding in the car, thinking about the future, and more.

     August 3, 2003-Sunday

     Today I have a new fear.  I’m getting sick!  My husband has a bad cold and now I have a sore throat.  If I get any worse they won’t do my surgery on Friday next.  All my future plans will be erased, driving school bus, doing daycare, foster care, all of it.  Since I retired I have planned to have a part-time job and then I discovered the lump.

     Also, severe PTSD symptoms are causing insomnia and tears at night, and dismay over being out of control of my life attacks me in the darkness of my room.  All the same symptoms that I experienced after my rape over ten years ago.

     I can’t seem to get control of my emotions.  Panic, anger, tears, loss of control, are all a split-second away.  I didn’t expect this.  I pray for God to keep me well this week so my surgery won’t be postponed.  I overdose on vitamin C and tylenol for my sore throat.  "Please God," I pray, "Please help me to get back some kind of control of my life’s plans, and help me not to be haunted by my past.  I was out of control when I was raped by a stranger and that trigger plagues me.  I’ve organized every day of my life, and now I can’t do that anymore.  Help me, please!"

     I know the Lord wants control.  I thought I gave it to Him, but now I’m not so sure.  I’m not sure of anything anymore.

     August 4, 2003-Monday

     All my fretting over getting a cold was stupid.  My sore throat broke and I continued to pile on the vitamin C (10,000mg) yesterday and my cold is mild.  I’ll rest a lot and continue to take the vitamins.  I hope these panic attacks slow down.  I also decided I’m going to tell my surgeon to take a little more breast tissue so I don’t have to risk going back for more if the pathology report comes in bad.  Four more days til surgery!

     August 5, 2003-Friday

     I’m nauseous!  It’s the morning of my operation.  It was moved up to 11:30.  Someone else got cancelled.  The only thing I can see in this whole room are the hands on the clock.  I can’t seem to read my bible, or pray.  All I can muster is, "Please don’t leave me Lord!"  I’m scared even though this is a pretty simple procedure.  God, I don’t know how my sisters have managed all these years with so many health problems.  So much pain and sickness they have been through compared to me.

     August 9, 2003-Saturday

     Well, it’s over!  I was so frightened they put me to sleep.  When I awoke in the recovery room the first thing I did was look to see if I still had a left breast.

     "My breast is still there!" I shouted coming out of anesthesia.

     "Of course it is.  They don’t remove breasts anymore unless they have to!" the duty nurse told me.

     "But it’s still big!" I went on.

     "Sure it is.  We just remove lumps!"  she assured me again.

     August 10, 2003-Sunday

     Well, I’m doing great, just a little sore, left breast still spilling out over my bra.  Funny, I thought it would be smaller and deformed, but it’s not.  It’s still full and all I have is a 2 1/2" pink line on the side of it running horizontally from under my arm to just before my nipple.  It doesn’t hurt unless I bump it or raise my arm over my head.  I noticed (I’m left-handed) that when I curled my hair this morning I got dizzy and felt like vomiting.  After all, it’s only been 48 hours since my surgery.  I’m not on any pain meds, not even tylenol because I’m literally pain free.  I’m glad the surgery is over.  I have a follow-up this coming Friday and a week after that I start radiation treatments.

    August 12, 2003-Tuesday

     I’ve never felt like doing absolutely nothing in my whole life.  Four days after my surgery and I feel worse than ever.  I must have done to much yesterday, which for me, with all my energy is next to nothing.  Today, I only got off the bed to eat and then was back in bed again.  Today is also my grandson’s 10th birthday and I didn’t even pick up the phone to call him. 

     This is awful.  How do sickly people do it?  How do they keep a cheerful smile or an upbeat attitude.  I hate being without energy.  I pray, "Please God, make this whole illness over with quickly!"  But I know He is teaching me patience.  My worst fear is that I’m not learning yet!

     I’ve noticed that the cancer thing is one giant fear step after another, and another, and another.  Each hurdle brings peace for awhile, and then you start building fear for the next step.  You have some good days, and some bad days, and this seems to go on forever.  Thank God I caught this in an early stage.  If I didn’t have a sore breast, I still wouldn’t know the  monster was there.

     As far as my faith, many days I can only manage a glance at my Jesus pictures throughout my house, and maybe a small prayer of, "Please don’t leave me!" whispers out of my numb lips.

     One night though I awoke about 3AM and looked over at my open bible sitting on top of my bedroom dresser.  The bible is in a cedar box that opens like a book, with a white bible on one side and a picture of the Lord on the other side.  It was a gift to me at my mother’s funeral. 

     When I awoke I stared at the picture and blinked my eyes again and again (something I do when I have a vision).  The picture was glowing on the outline of Jesus.  I looked around the room to see if it was a reflection off of a nightlight or something, but it was the only thing in the room that was glowing.  I stared at it and felt comforted.  It was the second visual sign to me that everything would be OK.  First the dove on the ultra sound, and now the illuminated picture of Jesus.

     One scripture has stayed with me so far, 2 Cor.12:9, when Paul asked to be healed of his infirmity Jesus said, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." NKJV

     God I hope and pray that I am learning.  I’ve never been tested like this before.  God wants control and I don’t know how to give it totally to Him.  He’s got to show me.

                      Love in Christ,    Claire   xoxo

Cancer Journal-Part 4 next Wednesday

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Cancer Journal-Part 3

Dear Readers, here is part 3…

     Cancer Journal-Part 3

     All of a sudden I found myself thanking God for the pain….

     I spent the rest of the day with my daughter and granddaughters.  Several times I broke into tears when my breast ached and I again thanked God for the pain that exposed this monster.  "All things work together for those that love the Lord," I thought as I held tightly to my grandkids.  "Thank you Father, thank you so much."

     August 1, 2003-Friday

     My surgery is scheduled for next Friday, August 8th.  Preop on Tuesday.  I find myself experiencing what I call "Fear Rushes," which are attacks of sudden fear that come out of nowhere.  I can’t catch my breath, I get frightened that the doctors have missed something, that the illness is worse than they are telling me, etc.  I go blank and then realize lots of time has passed.  These panic attacks seem to be triggered from anything, like reading cancer literature, watching movies about sick people, talking about cancer, holding my grandkids, riding in the car, thinking about the future, and more.

     August 3, 2003-Sunday

     Today I have a new fear.  I’m getting sick!  My husband has a bad cold and now I have a sore throat.  If I get sicker they won’t do my surgery on Friday next.

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Cancer Journal-Part 2

Dear Readers,

     Here is part 2 of my journal…

Cancer Journal-Part 2

     I was sent home with my first real fear of the possibility of the "Big C" being in my body.

     Dr. M. insisted I keep my appointment at the breast clinic scheduled for the next day, even though my test results might not be in on time.

     I arrived at the clinic half an hour early only to be told that my visit had been cancelled.  I freaked!  "No, she has to see me today!  Dr. M. insisted and he wanted to be contacted immediately after.  Something is wrong!  I have to be seen today!" I spoke in panic.

     Sensing my fear, they called my surgeon over at the big UMass University hospital campus and I was sent over there, where I spent the next four hours waiting to be seen, and waiting for test results to come in.

     Finally the surgeon summoned me to her office.  Holding my hand she looked sympathetically into my eyes.  "Claire, listen to me, the preliminary tests coming in aren’t good.  Precancerous cells are showing up.  You are going to need surgery and probably chemotherapy and radiation too.  Where’s your hubby?" she asked.

     "I sent him off to work.  I thought it was just a cyst!" I said still in shock.

     "I wish he was here,"she went on, "You need him now!"

     "He was here, for hours.  I thought everything would be OK.  I insisted he leave so he wouldn’t be late for work," I continued.

     And that is the last thing I remember hearing.  My mind blanked out the rest of her speech.  When her mouth stopped moving I left the room and went to get a drink in the cafeteria where I proceeded to lay my head on the table and sob uncontrollabley.  I don’t remember driving home.  I was numb the rest of the day.

     That night the first stage of cancer set in.  Denial!  "This can’t be true!  It’s a mistake!  I’m the healthy one in the family!  I’m the one who never gets sick, not really sick!  It’s a mistake!  I know it is!"  I kept telling myself, shaking my head back and forth in a gesture of disbelief.

     Another week passed and I returned to the clinic for more verification.  A new surgeon’s words gave me renewed hope, "We didn’t get enough tissue to make an accurate diagnosis.  We need another biopsy, a core biopsy, a bigger needle and a deep large tissue sample.  I can do it tomorrow or Friday?  Is that good for you?" he rambled.

     Two days later I was in the hospital again.  This biopsy was painful, but the young surgeon kept reassuring me that they weren’t even certain yet what I had.  Hope filled my entire body and again I got that immortal feeling from before.  "After all, I’ve always been the healthy one in the family!"

    

     That brings me to today, July 31, 2003.  No sleep last night, four months of a sore breast that hurts badly every time I move in bed, and a doctor telling me it doesn’t look bad, encouraged my stage of denial to linger.  Today, finally after all these weeks, I would know for sure.

     Nervously I sat in the office, feeling like I was going to vomit, as the minutes dragged by until the surgeon entered.  As she sat her tiny body on the chair and spoke to me, reality finally set in.  "It’s a Sarcoma!  I think it’s a Phylloides Tumor, a very rare one, mostly found in 40-year-old women.  How old are you Claire?" she asked me.

     "I will be 60 next February," I told her.

     "It’s a very treatable cancer," she went on, "I will do the lumpectomy and then you’ll need six weeks of radiation after you heal up from your surgery.  The mass is very small.  I will remove it with some good tissue.  This is a cancer that doesn’t go to the lymph glands.  It’s not a spreadable kind, but we can’t take any chances with your family history of breast cancer.  You won’t lose your hair!  You can still work if you want.  Radiation is quick and easy.  A small incision during day surgery and you go home.  We don’t even put you to sleep!  I would love to study your family.  It’s a fascinating case, all 3 sisters, same father, all different kinds of cancer."

     As she went on and on and on, I relaxed a bit as the acceptance stage set in that I really had the "Big C."

     "Why am I so sore?" I questioned.

     "I don’t know!" she went on, "Most cancers have no pain.  This is very unusual.  It’s probably inflamed around the tumor and that will go away after surgery."

     As I finished up with all the details and left the office, for the first time in four months I was secretly realizing that maybe God sent the pain to warn me of the predator.  Had my breast not been sore, I never would have gone for a check up.  All these weeks I had been complaining about the discomfort and I’m just realizing that the pain was what brought me to the doctor.  I probably wouldn’t have gone and might not have caught this at such an early stage, and it would have gone undetected until God knows when.  All of a sudden, I found myself thanking God for the pain.

                       Love in Christ,     Claire    xoxo

Part 3-next Wednesday

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Cancer Journal-Part 1

Dear Readers,

     Because so many people I love are going through cancer right now, I thought since I recently came across my cancer journal from eight years ago, it might help a little.  Hope my other readers will be patient with some of the same stories…

Cancer Journal Entry- July 31, 2003

     The shape of my tumor showed it’s ugly face on the ultra sound machine, only to my surprise the shape was beautiful!  As I stared in amazement, the doctor spoke first, "That almost looks like a bird!" Dr. M. said.

"It does, doesn’t it?" the ultra sound technician agreed.

"No!" I said as a rush of peace covered my body, "It’s a dove!"

"Is that a good sign?" the tech asked me.  "It’s a very good sign," I sighed with relief.  I knew as I stared intently at the screen that everything would be ok.

     Three months earlier as I lay in my bed one night watching TV, I thought to myself, "My left breast seems a little sore."  I didn’t pay much attention.  This happens to me often.  Lumpy sore breasts were common for me over the years.  But, after a month or so I noticed the soreness wasn’t going away.

     As I touched the tender area, I felt for the first time, a mushy mass about the size of a large marble.  A history of cysts in my breasts, and a complete breast analysis less than six months earlier, made me think that I shouldn’t worry.  After all, cancer lumps don’t usually come with pain.  This was a good sign.  A couple more weeks passed, and the inflamed area felt larger.  "Time to call the doctor!" I told my hubby.  Two sisters with breast cancer reminded me it was necessary to check and be sure.

     A concerned exam with a nurse practitioner brought a visit to the ultra sound people, and a visit to the breast clinic, even though I was continually assured that it was probably just another cyst, and not to worry.  "It’s mushy, soft, and painful," the nurse prac said, "All the characteristics of a cyst!  But, we’re going to set up a visit for an aspiration and a biopsy, just to be sure.  We’ll do it next week, ok?"

     "Good" I sighed, "It’s getting larger and it’s very painful, especially when I try to sleep.  Can I take anything for the pain?"

     "Only tylenol.  We don’t want bleeding at the biopsy" the nurse prac comforted me.

     Using the ultra sound picture as a guide, Dr. M. began his work, but as the aspiration proceeded it became evident that something was wrong.  As I stared at the screen and watched the doctor dig and dig and dig again with his needle, the mass refused to shrink as it was supposed to do when the fluid from a cyst was drawn out.  "Something’s not right!"my physician expressed.  "It won’t come out!  We’re going to stop and see if we’ve got enough for a biopsy," and I was sent home with my first real fear of the possibility of the "Big C" being in my body.

Part 2, next Wednesday

                                                Love in Christ,   Claire    xoxo

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Recent Family Events

Dear Readers,

     Watching the Jersey cows graze in the field across the street on my walk this morning, I decided it’s time to blog our recent family events.  Hopefully it will help stop some of the rumors.  Sometimes it is easier for me to write, than to speak…

Journal entries for the first half of 2011…

     Virtually at the same time this year, two of our children announced the break up of their families.  One divorce proved to be agreeable.  No attorneys, just a compatible separation in front of a judge and 90 days later a confirmation of the split.  Limited stress for everyone.

     But, the second split involved anger, confessions, violence and threats at times, which involved the local police, as well as occasional midnight sleepovers.

     For the last three months these two family events left us emotionally, physically, spiritually, and financially drained. 

     Rumors have been flying about us withdrawing from everything, when in actuality exhaustion caused us to collapse day after day from listening to anger, tears, fear, financial problems, and future decisions to be made.

     Finally after months of this day to day barrage, our daughter and her two children relocated to another state (with our help) for a fresh start and a new career.  God willing, the three of them will pick up their lives and start over, and we can get back to our lives, our church, and our quiet routine that seniors depend on.  It has been a very hectic and exhausting spring and summer.

     I must give both families to the Lord.  I thought I already did that, but obviously I didn’t, so now I have no choice.  I am out of control of these situations involving my children and grandchildren.  I must trust in the Lord.  I must practice what I preach.

     So, I just want to say thank you to all, for your kind notes, phone messages, prayers, visits, and patience with C.J. and I, while we were out of touch.         Love in Christ,     Claire   xoxo

     Romans 4:7+8  "Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.  Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him." (NIV)

    

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