Tuesday, 21 November 2017

 

 "The Road Back to Hell"

 This is the bittersweet story of growing up in an extremely dysfunctional home in the 1950's and 1960's. As the oldest child of my biological mother, Bonnie, and my adoptive father, Stew, I was the only daughter who benefited from the strong love my parents shared during the early years of their marriage. Shortly after the birth of my first sibling, Judy, their marriage started to crumble.  

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Thursday, 02 November 2017 15:01

Heather's Wrap-up

This is Part 3 of Heather's story. I would like to take this opportunity to thank her for providing us with her heart-felt experiences as a cancer patient.  Many times, it is difficult to express your inner most feelings and fears.  Heather has done a remarkable job baring her soul and I will continue to keep her in my thoughts and prayers. I encourage anyone who is reading her posts to do the same.  

Heather's Story

I don't know why I was given this awful disease, but then again why is anybody subject to this?  When I see children that have to go through years of battling different types of cancer, my heartbreaks for what they have to go through at such a young age. I cannot understand why, after all these years of raising money to find cures for cancer, that a cure has not yet been found. Then I remember my Grandma always telling me that God never gives you more than you can handle. I know I will fight this disease with everything I have in me. That does not mean I will always stay positive. Some days I just want to cry, and that's okay.  I believe I was given this hand because I am supposed to change something in my life. Whether that is helping other women going through breast cancer, or helping to raise funds for Triple Negative Breast Cancer research in order to get those survival rates up to where other breast cancer sub-types currently are, and eventually finding a cure for all, I am committed to doing it.  Breast cancer affects one-in-eight women in the world today. That is too many women who are affected by this dreadful disease. And what's worse, is that some of them are affected are so young.   

On a darker note, I would just like to describe what some breast cancer patients go through. I have joined a support group of over 5,000 women.  They all have Triple Negative Breast Cancer and hearing some of their stories breaks my heart.  Some of these women have had two and three recurrences, and have had to go through chemo, radiation, and surgery three times.  Some of the girls who were diagnosed at the same time I was, were at Stage 1 or 2 and now they are terminal.  Their cancer spread to their lungs or brain before they finished getting all of their chemo treatments. I am very fortunate to have a wonderful husband and two amazing children who have done everything to get me through this. They pitch-in and pick-up the slack at home. Many of the women I have met are young and pregnant when diagnosed. Many of their husbands left them once these women lost their hair and breasts. If they cannot get assistance, they often struggle to pay the bills. A lot of them have no one to help them with their children and no one to take them to treatments.  

One thing I dislike most when it comes to some of the breast cancer slogans is that they often make it look like breast cancer is a cakewalk. The truth for some of us is that it can be a devastating treatment process.  Chemotherapy is hell, physically. Six-months are bad enough, but some of these women who are  Stage 4, have to go through chemo until the very end.  Not only is the chemo horrible, but you are having emotional stress that often does not just go away after treatments are finished. It can cause PTSD in many women because with every scan and test, it is constantly in the back of your mind that it may have spread. Some people think that because you are in remission you are good, and you should be happy and go back to being your old self.  I'm sorry to say it does not work that way.  We know life can quickly change for the worse, just as it did the first time.  We not only have the physical and emotional strain, we also have the strain it adds to our families. One of the most difficult parts for me is that my kids have to see me weak and sick, when I have always been the strong one.  The love of my life has to become my caretaker and it crushes me.  This is not where I pictured my life at forty years-old. 

I am forced to think about things that I don't want to think about, like will my children be okay.  Kevin and I had all of these plans of growing old together and taking trips, once the kids were older.  The thought of maybe not seeing my children grow-up and get married or not getting to meet my grandbabies, crushes me.  The financial toll that goes along with a cancer diagnosis is devastating.  In the past six-months since I have been diagnosed, we have accumulated around $10,000 in debt with deductibles, co-pays, a wig, and going from a two-person income to a one- person income.  As I have already said, many women are in much worse shape than we are.  They do not have a husband or insurance, and they cannot get the treatment they so desperately need. 

Since my diagnosis, I have had people tell me it is only breast cancer. What they do not understand is that there are different types of breast cancer and some are much more aggressive than others are. Most of us have to go through six-months of chemo that is brutal.  One doctor described it this way, "We are going to take you as close to the brink of death as possible, and bring you back again.  Sometimes you lose every feminine part of your body, including your hair, eyebrows and eyelashes.  It's not uncommon to be thrown into early menopause. You often lose your breasts, and yes, some choose to have them reconstructed. But some of them, like me, choose not to do that because it will take another four- months to heal and it could take longer to discover a recurrence.  I have had people tell me to quit feeling sorry for myself when I am scared.  Friends tend to distance themselves because they do not know what to say and they feel helpless. The last thing a cancer patient needs is more alone time.  We need to get out of the house and live as normal a life as possible, when we feel good enough to do so.  

Anyone who knows someone who is going through breast cancer, or any type of cancer, please offer your help or kindness in any way you can.  Whether it is to go to a doctor appointment with them, or offer to cook dinner for the patient's family if they are too sick to do it. Even calling or stopping by to talk can help. I know I didn't understand what a cancer patient goes through, until I became one myself.  I didn't write this for sympathy. I wrote it to say, if anybody close to you is going through cancer treatments, this is how they may be feeling.  Most of the time, cancer patients put on a happy face for everybody else because they do not want to depress those who are around them. But sometimes, we need to let out the good and the bad in order to heal.  

If anyone would like to make a donation to the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation go to TNBCfoundation.org.​  If you would like to donate to a great local cancer charity, I recommend Lisa's Ladybugs Patient Care Fund. If you know a cancer patient in need of help, please contact this wonderful organization on facebook. 

Thank you for taking the time to read my story about my feelings and experiences starting with day of my diagnosis. If I have been able to shed any light on this dreadful disease, or offered any insight to someone who has breast cancer, please share it with them. My mission is to reach out to others.  

 Anyone who would like to send Heather a message is welcome to write their comments in the message portion of my blog.

More in this category: « Let the Treatments Begin!

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