Florida's Daughter

Archive for December 2009

Cancer teaches quite a few lessons … some more dramatic than others. One of the big ones is the necessity of being grateful. Grateful for an appetite, for the desire to eat. Grateful for functioning taste buds on the days when you have an appetite.

Grateful for family … especially the family you live with every day. However configured, the family living closest to a cancer patient gets to see all the process in all its gorey details.

The wild eyed look that flashes across your face when you realize you’re about to barf. The barf all over the floor when getting sick becomes inevitable. The endless backahes, the lost hair, trips to the emergency room, the many other ugly side affects associated with cancer treatment that one tries to keep to herself.

As for me, I’m most grateful for Richard. Since the day I was diagnosed my husband has been to most, if not all of my many doctor appointments. His was one of the last faces I saw before being wheeled into surgery. It is his name I call out in the middle of the night. His is the face I search out while laying on the emergency room gurney.

Richard and I have been together nearly 16 years and like most couples, we have our good and bad times. Periods when we couldn’t keep our hands and minds off of each other. And other times when one or both of us simply didn’t like the other. But through it all and through these years, we’ve always loved each other.

Although I admit that he is a better nurturer than I … it seems to come natural to him. Whereas I tend to have to remind myself about being nurturing, we’ve still tried to be there for one another in any way we could.

A lot of Richard’s nurturing occurs in the kitchen … he’s a really good cook and he enjoys it. So I can only imagine what he must have thought 16 years ago when he entered my apartment for a week long visit only to find no stove, no frig, and only one place setting in my kitchen. By the time we got to together my cooking candle had burned out and I’m afraid it has yet to make so much as a flicker these days. I never led him to believe I either enjoyed or was very good at cooking. Instead, I collect cookbooks with glossy photographs.

I don’t know what I would have done without Richard’s caregiving these last few months. When no one else is there, he’s been by my side in full support. This dispite his own healthcare issues. And as helpful and encouraging as every one has been towards me, no one – including my children and his children – have been there for me like he.

Another thing about being grateful – it loses its power when you keep it to yourself …

Thank you, Richard … I love you!


Since I last wrote, I’ve made another trip to the emergency room and I’ve received a blood transfusion because my iron levels were too low. Given the heart attack I experienced in April, my oncologist is being extra careful about my heart, and so am I. She decided to order the transfusion after I began experiencing chest palpatations/pains.

I’ve spent a lot of effort writing about the negative aspects of breast cancer, of discovering that an alien endavador had taken up residence in my left breast.

I’m happy to announce that as far as my doctors and I are concerned I am now “cancer free” — an official “survivor.” God blessed me to find the lump early and when my physicians went in during surgery, the cancer had not moved beyond its original point of discovery. It had not moved to my lymph nodes (Great!) and it appears I made the right decision to remove both breasts since undeveloped cancer cell were discovered during the pathology exam of my right breast.

I cannot express often enough the necessity of early detection for both breast and prostate cancer … access is the key word here my people!!

I’ve asked God for 30 more years … I’ll take more if it’s given. But I understand in a way I never did before that I am living a finite life, and while no one wants to sit around thinking about their ultimate demise, I understand much more intimately that we are each provided with a set number of years, determined while we were still in our mother’s wombs.

What I will do with those years is yet to be determined, but with God’s help and grace, it will all work out just fine.

Florida’s Daughter