Letter Between Friends...Living with Cancer
Letter from a Friend...Living with Cancer
My Dear Friend,
OK, there’s no way to clean this up. Worst…Year...Ever!
Things started out badly in January with chemotherapy following major surgery in October. At first that wasn’t so bad. I was able to keep working; although about all I could do was work and sleep.
My husband took me to every treatment and shaved my head when my hair fell out in handfuls. Bald may not be beautiful, but it isn’t that bad.
I really missed having eyelashes, but not shaving my legs for 4 months was an almost equal tradeoff. By the time I had the last few treatments in March, I was exhausted most of the time, and had lost quite a bit of weight, but we figured that with the treatments over, there was a light at the end of the tunnel.
During the last week of March I started feeling even worse and was having trouble using my left arm and hand. A call to the doctor and a brain scan showed that I had had a stroke on the right side of my brain, affecting my left side. My poor hubby had to get back into corpsman mode and take care of me and dress me. Bras defeated the poor guy, but we managed.
An ultrasound of my right carotid artery showed that there was a serious blockage in spite of the fact that my cholesterol levels have never been bad. There was nothing else to suggest that a problem was lurking either. So early in May the surgeon opened up my carotid and removed a collection of gunk that had blocked about 80% of the blood flow.
The doctors now say that everything is OK, and that I should not expect a recurrence of the cancer or the stroke. My handwriting is still lumpy, but mostly I have recovered. I take more pills than I like, but I bet we all say that. My hair has grown back, very curly and in “fifty shades of gray.”
Sometimes life steps in and brings fate to your door. One never knows how someone is really doing, especially, if they live in another state and you don’t see them often. You communicate the best way you can through letter, email, Facebook, cards at holidays and birthdays but the everyday things that are happening with friends and relatives you cannot really see. They have to tell you for you to know the pain, the struggles and the life changing moments. We, as friends found ourselves living the same lives somewhat.The answer to the letter follows…another life changing moment. Edited excerpt…
The Response...Living with Breast Cancer
Oh Dear Heart,
Wow! Your letter was received. Sorry for not writing back quickly. There were challenges to face and I have found out that the “golden years” – are not turning out the way they should. I feel your pain so strongly and I know what you have gone through.
In April I was diagnosed with breast cancer, my hair is all gone too! It has started to grow back but I have more treatments ahead so the little bit of hair that has grown back will fall out again. I have to have more chemotherapy, radiation and then 9 months of some miracle drug, Herceptin. After that five years on a hormonal pill. My goal, of course, is to become a breast cancer survivor.
It has been a rough year. I am blessed, as you are, with a circle of friends and support that has been wonderful. Several of my friends are breast cancer survivors, and so they keep me sane. Several times when I have gone off the rails they have pulled me back. My old boss, who has severe back problems, told me the other day that he hated the golden years. He said they are not as promised or as he thought they would be.
Living with Hope
It is great that we are both still here in the world with loved ones. It could have been a very different outcome. Even with the ups and downs we have much to be thankful for. Especially our spouses, who stand by us, help us and just give us that needed support. I worked right up until the day before surgery. Getting ready to start post surgery treatment very soon and it may be something hard to deal with but will do it in order to get better and live a longer life.
This is something to share with others; it is a disease that I am ready to write about, especially, the sights, sounds and smells of cancer. The lost taste buds, the lost weight and the lost hair (everywhere) do happen. When you have breast cancer a lot of things happens to your body and your spirit that no one tells you warns you about.
You are blessed, and so am I. So many have not come through this but we are still here. We can sing our song and rejoice with our loved ones. Be thankful because tomorrow is promised to no one. We have a chance to be vibrant, leave a legacy, share our lives with friends and family and that is wonderful. Believe it, when you have to face your own mortality you cannot help but try to be a better person.