A Little Light

October 30, 2010

by Jen(ster)

Yesterday’s news was a blow for most, if not all, of us. Cancer has taken another mother away from her children and it hurts. I don’t know about the other writers here, but I’m guessing it shook them up just as it did me.  Just like the others who are gone, every post or comment by her causes a hitch in my breath.

Shortly after I read the news about RivkA I received a message from Cindy’s sister. (I wrote about Cindy HERE.)  It didn’t say much, but what it did say was huge. Only one lymph node out of 14 was cancerous.

While I mourn for RivkA’s family, I rejoice for Cindy’s. Her first battle with cancer was an extremely tough fight for her and this time might just be a little easier.


Isn’t It Ironic

October 3, 2010

by Jen(ster)

Almost eight years ago I received a phone call from Diane, the sister of my very best childhood friend, Cindy. She called to tell me that Cindy had been diagnosed with breast cancer.  I fell apart. I’d never had a close friend with such a horrid disease and for it to be this woman who had been more to me than just my best friend, well, it was too much to take.  After I hung up with Diane I remember sliding off my chair and onto my knees, crying and trying to pray, but not able to say anything more than “Oh God”. That’s okay. He knew what my soul was begging for.

Cindy and her husband had been given the choice between a lumpectomy and a mastectomy and they decided on the mastectomy. After the surgery they were told the cancer was more involved than originally thought so she would have had a mastectomy anyway. She went through chemo and radiation and all the horrible side effects that accompany such treatment. Cindy had also recently been diagnosed with ciliac disease and her immune system was already suffering, compounding the problems that come with chemo.

Through all of it, though, she was the epitome of faith and grace, relying on God for strength and comfort. I remember talking to her and thinking to myself, I can’t imagine going through something so horrible and being so strong. She quickly became my hero.

Ironically, it was a little over two years later that I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I relied on my faith in God and always thought about Cindy and how she had fought the disease so valiantly and successfully.

Last Thursday as we were on our way down to Lynchburg, I received a Facebook message titled “Cindy” from Diane. It said, She was just diagnosed with breast cancer on her other breast. Please pray for her Jen!! So I did. And I am. And I will. Best case scenario it’s a new cancer and not a recurrence or a metastasis. The doctors seem to feel this is the case, but they won’t know for sure until her mastectomy on the 15th of October.

I talked to Cindy on the phone tonight. Several times, as a matter of fact. She lives in North Central Canada and was in the middle of her five-hour drive from Edmondton to her home. Apparently there are hills and valleys because we kept losing each other. When we were able to actually talk we mostly laughed. Laughed! The woman is going in for her second mastectomy in two weeks and we were cracking each other up.

What she did tell me, however, was that she has stage 3 breast cancer and at least one node is involved. As always, she won’t know the extent of treatment until after the surgery, but she’s not looking forward to chemo again. Thankfully treatment has gotten much better in the last 8 years so I’m very hopeful she’ll do better this go around. She’s also not looking forward to losing her hair again. But we laughed over the memory of her middle son telling her she looked like the trash man the last time.

Ironically again, it’s breast cancer awareness month.  Seven years ago October took on a new meaning to me because of Cindy. Five years ago it was because of my own journey. Four years ago it was my mom. This year we’ve come full circle. I’m aware. I’m VERY aware. I’m so aware that October used to be painful to me (you can read this post from 2007 to see just how painful.)

Treatment has changed significantly in the last eight years. As much as the commercialism of Pink October makes me squirm, I have to acknowledge that money raised really has made a difference. My hope and prayer is that these improvements will aid Cindy in breezing through this new diagnosis and that she’ll kick butt yet again!

Crossposted at jenstersmusings.com


It’s All About The Boobs – A Trilogy

June 6, 2010

 

Written by Jennifer Thompson

Over at my personal blog, Jenster’s Musings, I’m doing a series of posts called “It’s All About The Boobs”. At first I didn’t think it was necessarily appropriate to Mothers With Cancer, I guess because it’s not about living with cancer. But the more I thought about it, I decided this series IS appropriate. Two of the three experiences wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t been a BC survivor and the third experience would have meant something completely different to me. So I’ve decided to post the trilogy here, too.


For most of April and the first week of May I was lied to left and right. Todd lied to me, my friends lied to me, my kids lied to me… and I didn’t know. It’s a little scary how easily these people, people who supposedly care about me, could tell me falsehood after falsehood with a perfectly straight face. Let me give you a small sampling of the bevy of deceptions perpetrated against me.

Early April:

Katie

Katie: I need a tropical recipe for school for extra credit.

Me: How about Hawaiian Chicken? It’s easy and yummy.

Katie: Okay.

Late April:

Laura

Laura: Do you think Katie would want to babysit for us on the 7th?

Me: Probably. We have a surprise birthday party to go to, but I’m sure she would sit for you.

Laura: Great.

Me: So what are you going to do?

Laura: Bill and I are going on a date.

Me: Good for you!

Friday, May 7:

Taylor

Taylor: I’m going to Nick’s.

Me: Are you going to come to Mark’s party?

Taylor: Yeah. We’ll probably swing by at some point.

Todd

Todd: Katie just called and said there’s a leak under the sink at Bill and Laura’s.

Me: Oh, no.

Todd: She said it’s not bad. We’ll just stop on our way to Mark’s party and you can come in and see Laura’s new tile.

Me: Alright. I’ve been wanting to see it…

It went down like this: I walked up to the front door with Todd so I could “see Laura’s new tile while he checked under the sink.” When the door opened up there were all these people on the stairs and in the hall yelling “Surprise!” Turns out Todd had spearheaded a surprise party for me with some of our neighbors to celebrate five years of being cancer free. Mark’s wife, Amy, was in on it, too. She happened to be throwing a surprise 40th birthday party for him on the same night and even told him he was going to my surprise party.

They got me good! I had absolutely no inkling of their diabolical plan – the bunch of consummate fibbers. They had a luau for me, hence the Hawaiian Chicken recipe Katie wrangled out of me. Todd played the guitar while Katie sang “Grace” by Saving Jane – one of my favorite songs she sings. After that Taylor played his guitar some while we all sat around, eating and laughing and just having a good time. But the fun didn’t stop there. Oh, no it didn’t. There was also a cake. A boob cake.

(I blocked out the nipples ala Girls Gone Wild commercials so as not to offend the delicate sensibilities of my virtuous readers. Or reader. Whatever.)

And that’, mi amigas, is Part I. Stay tuned for Part II.


Five Years Ago Today…

May 3, 2010

By Jenster

Five years ago today I had the life-saving surgery to remove the cancerous tumor from my body. Not only was the malignancy removed, my entire left breast was removed.

Five years ago today I had a huge incision across the concave side of my chest and a drainage tube at each end. Of course, five years ago today I didn’t actually see the incision. That happened five years ago tomorrow.

Five years ago today we didn’t know exactly what we were dealing with – if the cancer had spread and what kind of treatment I’d have to go through.

Five years ago today I had a lot of questions. Or at least I think I had a lot of questions. Five years ago today I was on pretty good meds so I might not have had any questions other than when I’d get the next happy pill.

Five years ago today I knew my life had been forever altered, but I had no idea to what extent. Five years ago today I figured I’d go through treatment – whatever that might mean – and eventually everything would be back to normal.

Five years ago today I was a little delusional.

Five years ago today somebody stole my pink ribbon car magnet off the back of my van while I was having a mastectomy.

Five years ago today the surgical waiting room was full of people I love with all my heart. Those people prayed for me, they told stories about me and they ate my peanut M&Ms.

Five years ago today I assured those people I love that everything would be okay as I left them at the surgical waiting room on my way back to pre-op. (I might not have been quite so magnanimous had I known they were going to eat my peanut M&Ms.)

Five years ago today I sang “I Want To Be Sedated” as they wheeled me into the operating room. At least that’s the story Todd tells. With my history it’s very likely.

Five years ago today my sister, Terri, and my Mother-In-Law went shopping and bought me all sorts of beautiful things to make my recovery as pleasant as possible.

More than five years ago today I believed Todd loved me and God would see us through this whole ordeal.

Five years ago today was the start of that belief turning into knowledge.

Today is a huge day for me. Five years in the life of a cancer survivor is a big thing. It’s that magic day when the risk of recurrence or metastasis is reduced. I like the sound of that.

But…

Today is the day after Lynn Redgrave died from breast cancer.

Today I have breast cancer sisters with recurrences and metastases.

Today I’m thrilled to have made it to five years with my four favorite words, “No Evidence of Disease”, but I can’t help but think of those who haven’t been so fortunate.

So…

Today I will celebrate my milestone.

Today I will enjoy the beautiful roses Todd bought me.

Today I will relish every kind comment either in person or on my Facebook status.

Today I will thank God for my good health.

And…

Sunday I will walk in the Philadelphia Race for the Cure for every woman I know who has dealt/is dealing with this disease.

Today Todd gave me a dozen red roses and five pink roses:

Today Todd gave me five more pink roses for my bedside table:

Today it’s good to be me.

Crossposted at Jenster’s Musings


More Good News

November 15, 2009

My good friend, Kris, is a brilliant scientist with GlaxoSmithKline who works on cancer medicines.  She’s currently in Boston at a cancer symposium.  This is the text conversation we had today:

Kris:  were u ER+ and HER-?

Me:  Yes.

Kris:  there was a study showing if women had side effects with joint pain or hot flashes they had less chance of cancer reacurrance than women who did not have symptoms.

Me:  Suhweet!  I should be good then!!

Kris:  i know!!

So for all of you ER+/HER- ladies who suffer from hot flashes and joint pain, take heart!  It might just be worth it!  Stay tuned.  I’ll be sure to tell you more when she gets back and can fill me in!

Edited:

I found this article regarding this new study.

http://www.breastcancer.org/treatment/hormonal/new_research/20081029b.jsp