October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. If you’ve been following the SAL Project, you know this is an important part of my life. And it’s an important part of many of my Affiliated Agents’ lives, too. Missions around breast cancer care and awareness have been highlighted here for the past two years, and it makes me so proud to see such love and kindness enacted around such a painful and difficult part of so many people’s lives.
Today, I am thrilled to share Affiliated Agent N’s mission with you, not only because it highlights love and care for those suffering from cancer, but because she is a survivor. I am so honored to encounter people like Affiliated Agent N on a regular basis through this project. Her strength and courage and, most importantly, her desire to show love and kindness to others, is inspiring to say the least.
Tuesday, 11 October 2011
Affiliated Agent N
Seidman Cancer Center
In September of 2008, I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. The cancer had spread to my liver before it was detected. I was 44 years old. I have a husband and 4 kids. Really, I don’t need to say anything else, right? There are only 4 stages to cancer and I have stage 4. Almost immediately, I started chemo. I had eleven rounds of it…which was 22 times sitting in a “chemo chair” with an IV for hours. My husband was with me every time but one. My sister in law was almost always there. I also had a brother and another sister-in-law that stopped by on occasion. While this was a scary time, I actually enjoyed my experience because of all the love that surrounded me. When I finished my treatments, I started to miss my Tuesday dates with everyone!
In October of 2010, after the cancer had been stable about a year, I asked if I could see a liver specialist. Thought I might qualify for some surgery to get rid of whatever was left in there. A PET scan showed no active cancer ANYWHERE in my body! A follow up diagnostic mammogram was ordered. No lump was detected. Wow…stage 4 Breast Cancer is NOT curable. (yet). This is as good as it gets…and this is where I am! Sure, I have circulating tumor cells that may one day form lumps again. But, for now, I’m coastin’.
You don’t go through this experience unchanged. I am constantly wondering why I’ve been given this extra time on earth. Certainly it isn’t to wash dishes, do laundry, etc. I long to reach out to others in a similar circumstance. Everyone who feels hopeless needs to know that sometimes the most hopeless cases can turn around. Receiving chemo treatments can be a long, tiring experience. Sometimes even nauseating. When it was over, I had people to bring over meals and make me feel warm and well. I want to give someone else a piece of that feeling. Not everyone has a strong support system. And, even if they do, an extra kindness is never wasted.
I was treated at University Hospitals. Their cancer center was named the Ireland Cancer Center, or ICC. Now it’s the Seidman Cancer Center but the signs haven’t all been changed yet. Special parking is designated for cancer patients there. In thinking of what to share, I wanted to choose something that’s a “healthy treat” because junk food is not what you need if you have cancer. Also, a person may not feel like going out. You know, maybe a bad hair day or something, right? So, I thought the powerful combination of antioxidant-rich green tea and dark chocolate would be perfect. I chose the car next to mine just because I wanted to be a bit inconspicuous. I was in and out of my doctor’s appointment before the person got their gift. But, I sure hope it made someone smile!
Affiliated Agent N, there is no doubt in my mind that you have been given this extra time on earth because it NEEDS you. WE need you. Thank you (and your husband and family) for the amazing love and kindness you give!
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