Florida's Daughter

190509072732fear

Many Christians are under the mistaken notion, to paraphrase Kirk Franklin, that storms are God’s way of punishing us. But I too submit that this is not true theology, that rather it is a form of Christian thinking that more reflects how we treat one another, rather than how God treats his/her beloved children.

Just as plants require sunlight and warm weather to grow, we too require rain and darkness over the course of a day, of a season in order to become the flowers we were meant to be.

So no, I don’t believe God did not give us the spirit of fear. She not only gave us the spirit of fear, but the spirit of love, and determination, and courage as well. Even Jesus, who we esteem above all, acknowledged the spirit of fear possessing him when he asked God to remove the challenge that was before him. 

Often we are afraid to admit our fear, to embrace it and acknowledge it because we don’t want to appear weak, vulnerable. But sometimes that’s where we are, and fear is just what we feel.

Florida’s Daughter

This is perfect imagery to explain how I feel most mornings ...

This is perfect imagery to explain how I feel most mornings ...

I don’t fear the surgery so much, although I am not looking forward to the pain it will leave behind, or the realization that I no longer have breasts of my own. Or that chemotherapy will make me sick, or that paying for other meds, treatments, and doctor visits will strain our finances, and most likely, our marriage.
 
Eventually, my body will heal from the surgery and left behind will only be memories of what was once upon a time. I will move on and pick my life back up and we will try and move on, forgetting perhaps the memory of this experience, if not the lessons.
 
No, I’m logical-minded enough not to fear the surgery so much. I am afraid that next Tuesday will signal the beginning of my end and that cancer will eventually kill me. If not now, then at some other time.
 
I am afraid that the sacrifice of both my breasts and my ovaries will not be enough of a price to pay for a cancer-free life.
 
I have a lot of Christian family members, friends and acquaintances, and I’m positive that each would counsel me to pray to God for healing, for peace of mind, for comfort. But I am of the belief that God is not sitting around stubbornly waiting for me to pray before he heals me, bestows peace upon me, and graces me with comfort.
 
There is a reason why I am going through this, and I don’t believe it is entirely for my sake. But understanding that my tribulation may be in the end for the benefit of someone else does not make the thought of it any less painful to bear.
 
I know I will die someday. I’ve known since I was a 15-year-old witnessing the death and burial of her 35-year-old mother. But I guess I thought I had more time to write, to travel, to watch my grandchildren grow up, to watch my children realize their dreams and my dreams for them.
 
Now I know that I have less time before than behind me and the realization is forcing me to re-think my priorities, to determine what I want to accomplish before I die, knowing that my life no longer represents the great expanse of time and opportunity I once thought it was.
 
Cancer makes one understand in a way that cannot be read about, or told about that time is precious. That each day is not promised … what a cliche … but cliches are repeated so often because the truth of them is never lost no matter how often the truism is repeated.
 
Already I am tired of thinking about cancer, tired of wondering what ultimate effect it will have on the rest of my life. I feel guilty about talking and thinking about cancer all the time while everyone else around me seems only to have good news to share about new adventures, unchartered discoveries, and renewed relationships.
 
I am boring to my own ears, but there is nothing else on my mind right now … there is nothing else to focus on until I have scaled this mountain, until I have found my way out of this maze.
 
Florida’s Daughter

While I’ve always known that just one serious illness can bankrupt a family’s finances, it was not until my own recent cancer diagnosis that the truth of that statement became a reality to me. One imagines that private insurance is a blessing, and in many ways it is, but paying $30 every time you visit the doctor, and you’ve got at least 3 doctors to visit several times in one month is stressful on even a middle-class family’s budget.

With private insurance, a co-pay of as much as $30 is due each time a cancer patient goes in for radiation treatments sometimes as often as five times a week for as long as six weeks. A co-pay of $30 is due each time that patient goes in for chemotherapy, and each time she visits any one of several doctors for follow-up appointments.

Then there are the co-pays ranging from $10 – $30 for monthly prescriptions, and funds needed for surgical dressings. Add to all of the above the high cost of eating nutritionally balanced meals. Feeding a family inexpensively is possible, but keeping a family fed on a steady diet of hot dogs, lunch meat, and other cheap foods is also nutritionally unsound.

President Barack Obama was overwhelmingly elected because this nation’s electorate … Democrats, Republicans, and Independents … wanted change. Those of us that voted for change must continue to push for change across the board, including comprehensive healthcare reform. We must pick up where the late Sen. Teddy Kennedy’s fight for access to universal health care for all Americans ended. We must continue to make the demand that healthcare is a right of citizenship in this the most powerful country on Earth, rather than a privilege of the rich and well-connected.

Florida’s Daughter

sleepy-8992

Up and getting ready to take my first meeting with my plastic surgeon. I’m told I have assembled a very experienced, very professional group of female surgeons, physicians, genetic counselors, and nurses … Last week my cardiologist noticed that he’s the only male on my list. Who knew my city was so wealthy in breast cancer healthcare workers?  I am blessed with God’s grace to have them working on my behalf.

On another matter, I think I took a morning pill with my bedtime medicine last night … I tossed and turned all night unable to get more than 2 hours sleep max. There’s a reason why patients are advised not to take their medicines in the dark :-O

Make it a wonderful day, and remember to smile … your’s may be the only one someone out there receives today!

Florida’s Daughter

woman-meditating1

 

Que sera, sera
what ever will be, will be;
The future’s not ours to see.
Que sera, sera
What will be, will be

 

 

 

 

Well, two weeks from Tuesday, on September 15, 2009, I go under the knife for a bilateral mastectomy and reconstructive breast surgery. Two months ago I was fretting over passing the English Language Arts and Reading teacher certification exam, hoping I would somehow get a classroom of my own enthusiastic middle schoolers to teach, and in an instant, my life changed with the knowledge that I have breast cancer.

At first, I thought I could multi-task my way through the ordeal … kind of throw fighting breast cancer in amongst all the other things I have to do to progress and maintain my life. But then when my genetic test came back positive, and I discovered that from birth I was at increased risk of getting cancer, and that unless I take drastic measures, I will remain at risk … well, nothing else seems as important right now as fighting breast cancer.

When school began I was so sad as I watched the other teachers prepare their rooms and lesson plans for a new year, and greet their classes on the first day. I kept thinking: “That should have been me!”

So, don’t get me wrong … all of my hopes and dreams are just as clear, just as real, just as intense as they always were … I still want to teach middle school; write a book of essays, and reach out to teenage mothers and other young women struggling to find themselves. I even now want to become a living testimony of breast cancer survival for other women, and men, too. But all of this will have to wait, or at least progress will need to slow up a bit while I fight this alien that has invaded my body.

Speaking of the alien, I received the results of my recent bone, CAT, and PET scans as well as my MRI and I am relieved to report that all was fine and it looks like the alien is still where we found it … sitting comfortably in my left breast … it has not metastasized … Thank God!

And I’m happy to report as well that the nightmares have decreased somewhat; although the thought of cancer is never far from my conscious mind, I am at least able to sleep a little better these days.

I suppose in some way I’m getting used to the idea of living with cancer, or the threat of it. And, consequently, I realize that I will never, ever be the same person. How I will change and grow is yet being determined … right now, I’m just looking for peace in the storm.

Florida’s Daughter

Today was a productive day. I was able to squeeze in a visit with The Center’s resident social worker, something I was attempting to do, but had not yet secured.

The bone scan is not radioactive; I don’t think … because the door was open. Turning my head to my right allowed me to see an image of my skeleton displaying itself on the computer screens on that side of me. The technician was willing to take a photo of me before I got up, but the camera’s batteries were zonked.

Meeting with surgeon went well … nothing happened that I didn’t expect, except that she was running late, so I went downstairs and had lunch. I landed in the Cafe at the height of lunchtime rush hour. Cheers to the Ben Hogan Center employee that gave me one of his meal coupons so that I could afford to pay for all of my meal.

Stopped by the Cancer Boutique; met the director. She was able to provide me with some direction, encouragement and support … the visit went well. I left with some intriguing investigative journalism ideas in mind.

Productive Day …

SmileyFace

Florida’s Daughter

 

This is perfect imagery to explain how I feel most mornings ...
This is perfect imagery to explain how I feel most mornings …

 I stayed up late last night unable to sleep. I’m up early this morning for another long day preparing for breast surgery in September.

  • Show up at 7:45 at the cancer center to begin the 3-hour bone density test (take a shot of dye; keep myself busy for 2 hours before taking the actual test);
  • Meet breast surgeon at noon in her office for our last meeting before surgery … I expect her to explain exactly what she plans to do during the operation and to tell me that because of my history of heart trouble I am not a candidate for the TRAM flap breast reconstruction surgery;
  • Meet with the nurse navigator at one of the local hospitals who will take me on tour of the hospital’s cancer boutique where I should be able to pick up supplies I’ll need during treatment (scarves, wigs, information, etc.)

When will I be free??

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