One voice

When I started this blog I thought it would mostly be cancer stuff, some posts about life and my family and things like that.  I have always been opinionated, just ask my parents.  But my initial expectation was that maybe this would become a resource, some place that people who were dealing with cancer and the life that comes after it.  I thought that I would help show the variety of ways that women and men deal with what happens after disease.

That has been the vast majority of the postings but lately this blog has gotten very political.  I struggled and was concerned that readers might get offended. Then I looked at the title of the blog.  I guess this is my now what.  If you haven’t guessed I am not a professional blogger. I am a woman.  It is that simple. I am a woman, a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a colleague, a chorister, a voter and an American.   I am a feminist and have had times when I am an activist.  If I have offended you with anything in this blog that is unfortunate but do not expect it to change.

See, now that I have looked at death, and I mean really looked at  it I don’t care very  much what others think of me.  I don’t have time for that.  I am alive and will be using my voice when I think it will make a difference whether that be to help my kids, my community or my country.

I sent an e-mail out to the innumerable people who were on my side during my fight, many of whom I never met. I am printing it below so that perhaps some of you will feel less alone and maybe encourage you to use your voice. It is very easy and one voice at a time we really can change the world.  Even if that world is only the street you live on.

It is my pleasure to report that after 10 months and 12 days, surgery, 30 rounds of radiation, 12 rounds of chemotherapy, more vials of blood than I care to remember, two rounds of hair loss and more other things (than you’ll ever need to know about) I am now officially in remission.

I am grateful to each and every one of you who have sent an email, card, called, prayed, brought over food, helped with my kids and mowed my yard.
I am grateful to my doctors who have listened to me and helped me plot out our course.
I am incredibly grateful to the nurses who are the most helpful and caring lot I’ve probably ever met.
I am grateful for my insurance companies! After all that I’ve been through I still didn’t have high enough out of pocket costs to claim on my taxes.
I’m grateful to the inventors of CAT scans, PET scans, portacaths, and the fabulous drugs that allowed me to go through all of this with two days of nausea and never getting sick once.
I’m grateful to the management at my job for  working with me through the days that I was gone more than I was here.
I’m grateful to Oprah of all stupid things. She did a show about 4 years ago about young women with breast cancer and encouraged women to get early baseline mammograms. I did and at least know that while this was awful I haven’t been carrying it around for 10 years.
I’m grateful to the thousands of women that have been in clinical trials and fought this so that the researchers have learned better treatments.
I’m grateful to the “girls with b/c” for being there to answer the questions, via phone, email and lunch.
I’m grateful for my “babysitter”, but really a member of the family who refused to take payment for helping with the kids.
I’m grateful for the gang of drivers who took me to and from chemo on the days I knew I would be a little loopy.

I am grateful beyond words for my husband who has been through every step of this with me and has put up with meltdowns, mood swings and menopause way earlier than we had planned.

I am grateful to my children who don’t yet understand that some days I got out of bed because of them if nothing else.
I’m grateful for my family, both close and distant for all of the support even if on a long distance call.
And the members of the chorus who cheered me on and told me how great I looked (when I didn’t). Being around beautiful music is great and making beautiful music is even better.

Of course I’m still pissed.
I’m angry that my course of treatment was dictated as much by my need as by the fact that my insurance would cover it.
I’m angry about the woman that I talked to in the park last weekend (two years post cancer at age 34)  who priced insurance for herself and was quoted $3,200 PER MONTH by the only company that would consider her.
I’m pissed that there are women out there who don’t get mammograms because they have no way to pay for them or the possible treatment that they need.
I’m pissed that I’m now a contact for dozens of women who are dealing with similar issues. I’m there for them but I don’t want anyone else to join this club….although i don’t know what I would have done without the members that were there for me.
I’m pissed that there are a whole group of people (particularly the crowd at Gregory) who have never known me with hair or without cancer.
I’m pissed that I actually gained weight during chemotherapy….for crying out loud if nothing else I was supposed to be a size six after all of this.

I hope that I am a better person after this.  I don’t think I’ll ever be grateful that I had cancer but maybe I’ll be grateful for what I can and have learned from having cancer.
I hope that I can keep my priorities straight and not freak out every time I have a pimple thinking that it’s a tumor.
I hope that the research continues so that my daughter and nieces don’t have to fear this.
I hope that every person who reads this has a mammogram or takes someone they love to get one. They’re really not that bad (although on the plus side I never have to have another one ).

So now what? Now I take pills for five years, get scanned and followed up on. I go on a cruise with my husband in the fall (without the kids). I plan vacations and holidays and kids parties. Maybe my Christmas cards get out on time and maybe not. I exercise and take my vitamins and try to eat right. I use my treadmill enough to justify its cost and the cost of the really cool sneakers I bought. I go out to dinner with friends and not be the bald lady (although sometimes I think I got better service than I did with hair). And I hope that if you have someone you know who has been praying for me or sending me cards (your work folks Mom) or anything else that you will print this out and share it with them.

Thank you all for everything!!!!

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