Dealing With Cancer During the Holidays

Through the process of having cancer, you either learn of some wonderfully inspiring people or, if you are lucky, you get to meet some.  Below I have shared a blog post with my readers, written by Cameron Von St. James of the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance. Cameron asked me to share this information with you.  Camerons beautiful wife Heather was diagnosed with cancer in 2005, here Cameron shares with us his thoughts about Christmas time and being thankful for the blessings he has received having such a supportive family when he needed them most….over to you Cameron 🙂

Cameron writes………

The holiday season has always held a special place in my heart. It’s a time for celebrating with friends and family, for gratitude and for timeless tradition. Therefore, you can imagine how thrilled I was about the holidays after my wife, Heather, gave birth to our first and only daughter. We’d begun planning which family traditions to pass on and thinking of new ones to incorporate into our family celebrations.  We couldn’t have been more excited. Unfortunately, these plans were put on the back burner when, just three days before Thanksgiving, we were informed that my wife had cancer.

Our daughter, who we’d named Lily, was only three and a half months old at the time that Heather was diagnosed with mesothelioma. Our focus switched from joyously anticipating the holiday season to battling a deadly disease inside of a single day. Anger and fear consumed me immediately. I knew that the odds weren’t good. I knew that I could end up losing my wife, going broke paying for cancer treatments and being left to raise our daughter on my own. I tried to stay positive, but somehow all I could picture was the worst-case scenario.  That year, I felt that I had little to be thankful for.

Despite it all, we still had holiday celebrations, if you could call them that. My wife’s parents came to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with us before we left for Boston for her treatments. On Thanksgiving, we shared a meal together. Afterward, Heather’s parents sat with us to discuss how they would assist us during this crisis. I never wanted to have this conversation. It was the most horrible moment I recall from that time, after receiving Heather’s diagnosis.

We talked about our financial situation and Lily’s care. Heather’s parents told us which bills they could help with and advised us on which assets to liquidate to keep us from bankruptcy. Before the diagnosis, Heather and I both held jobs. However, with everything that was going on from the new baby to treatment and travel, our expenses soared and money was running out. I sat and listened to the discussion, overwhelmed by despair and anguish. It would years before I could look back on that conversation with anything but shame.

I later realized how mistaken I had been to view that day with such negativity. Years later, I now see how very much we had to be thankful for that year. We had a family willing to do whatever they could to help. They made incredible sacrifices to ensure our well-being.  For years, stubborn pride and arrogance kept me from realizing this fact. This year, I intend to show gratitude for all that is good in my life, like the generosity and love of our friends and family. I also still have my beloved wife, who after intense mesothelioma surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatments, beat her cancer and has been able to celebrate seven Christmases and counting with our daughter. We hope that our story can shine as a beacon of hope for anyone else enduring cancer during the holidays this year.

Cameron

If you would like to learn more about Mesothelioma, please visit the below website for more information.

Read more: http://www.mesothelioma.com/mesothelioma/

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Once Upon A Time……

Once upon a time, there was a young woman in the prime of her life.  She went along day by day enjoying the fruits of her labour, tending to her flock, combing her long flowing hair, painting her beautifully long nails and thinking about the wonderful things life had provided for her.  She hadn’t a care in the world.

Then along came a wicked wicked gremlin, he didn’t like this young woman. He didn’t like seeing her happy, playful and joyful, so he hatched a plan that would take it all away from her. He wanted her stripped bare physically, emotionally and spiritually. So one day he told one of his henchmen to invade her body. “Go forth into her body and grow into a mighty tumour” he said.  “Cause her pain and suffering, inflict wounds upon her body that will scar her for life” Make her see visions of death and destroy her confidence and zest for life. Turn her dreams into nightmares and make her feel ugly, take her hair, take her breast and take her life…. and so off his henchmen went to do their work.

But what the gremlin didn’t know was that this young woman had an army. An army so mighty, so powerful that even the evilest, vilest demons stood no chance.  Everywhere he and his henchmen turned they were met with knights in shining armour using light sabres to cut down the henchmen, they were beaten back by guardian angels with wings so strong and wide that nothing could pass them by.  Her army was led by a mighty Sergeant Major whose battle experience spanned centuries and he hadn’t lost a battle yet.  They fought and battled day in and day out, over weeks and months, morning, noon and night.  The young woman was fed magical foods and secret potions by her army to make her body and blood strong.  She was given words of encouragement from mighty disciples sent to counsel her and handed books of scriptures to rebuke all evil.  She was blanketed in love by her corporals and was covered with healing Blessings by her troops.

Each day the gremlin and his henchmen grew weaker and weaker whilst the young woman grew stronger and stronger. The battle scars began to heal and the emotional turmoil began to fade. The spiritual balance was restored and her tears began to dry.

Today, 15 months on, the young woman looks back at the dark woods she leaves behind in which the battle took place and sees the corpses of the gremlins and henchmen scattered far and wide, turning to dust.  She looks forward toward her future and can see her mighty army ahead of her leading the way. She turns to look alongside her and sees the Sargent Major who never leaves her side, he smiles and his warm glow comforts her, she thanks him everyday……….and she lives happily ever after.

The End

Cast

Young Woman – Me

Gremlin – The Devil

Henchmen -cancer

Knights in Shining Armour with Light Sabres – Radiotherapy

Guardian Angels – Family and Friends in the Afterlife (led by Dad)

Magical Foods – Rannies Cooking lol 🙂

Secret Potions – Chemotherapy

Corporals – Family & Friends

Troops  – Doctors, Surgeons, Nurses, Oncologists

Mighty Disciples – More Family & Friends

Books of Scripture – Bible

Sargent Major – God

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I Got 99 Problems But My Tit Ain’t One!

“I am happy to report that your mammogram shows no abnormalities”.

Assuring and calming words from my breast surgery team in a letter I received during the week.  I knew it was my results letter and no word of a lie it took me about 10 minutes pacing up and down the house to work up the courage to open it.  I do know some women whose mammogram had resulted in a “recall” letter and those words I just did not want to see.

However, does it really assure me that all is well? My original mammogram although it showed the first tumour it did not show the other one which was growing behind it…..so that causes a bit of doubt in my mind  – but other than asking my surgeon to cut open my one remaining useful breast to have a quick “look”…. I just have to accept the results are accurate and my left breast is clear of cancer.

There has been a lot of press recently about mammograms and whether they are beneficial and do women end up having “unnecessary” surgery on areas that “look suspicious” but would have never become a cancer.  I watched an interview recently with a woman on Sky News who refuses to have mammograms as she says her risks are very low.  She doesn’t smoke (neither did I), She was fit and healthy (so was I), she didn’t eat that much red meat (neither did I), she has no family history of breast cancers (neither did I)………are any bells ringing with my readers here???

I too was “low risk”. I too could have ticked “all the above”, yet the little bastard still got me. I’m sure I said it before, my oncologist couldn’t tell me why I was one of the 50,000 women a year in the UK who get breast cancer.  He said there was so much research going on and different camps say different things and come to different conclusions, however, they ALL agree on one thing.

“If you have breasts……….you’re fair game love”

Ladies – go and have your mammograms if you are called. I wouldn’t wish this shit on ANYBODY!

Love, Light & Blessings 🙂

Lisa

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The Fear of Moving On

When I wake up each morning and open my eyes, up until about 6 weeks ago, my first thought of each day was “I have breast cancer”. My second thought of the day was “I have breast cancer” and the third….yes, you’ve guessed it, “I have breast cancer”.  But slowly, very slowly that thought is beginning to become the second thought of the day and I long for it to become the third, then fourth, fifth and so on. In fact, I long for it to not once cross my mind for just one day and allow me to be so busy living my life, doing “other” stuff that I actually forget that I had cancer at one point.

A year on from that awful day, I’m a changed woman in many ways.  Not in my personality, but just in the things I hold close to my heart, what I see as important, I’m more focussed on the things I want to do, I’m trying to stop procrastinating so much and become a “doer”.  My spiritual growth is phenomenal and I’m no longer allowing pointless situations to rule my life.

But its the moving forward thats the hard bit and I have to truly fight the demons in the back of my mind to enable myself to move on from this. I keep myself busy, with work and with Church, but I have a sense of fear in moving on although I really, really want to.

I have realised why Im struggling, and its because not only did the cancer take my right breast, it took my confidence with it, it took my “spark”, my “zest”and I’m struggling to get it back.  In the 12-18 months leading up to my diagnosis I was in the midst of enjoying the blessings I’d be given. My health wasn’t an issue (or so I thought), I was happy with my body and my mind.  I was enjoying being a wife. I was having a great time learning new things about the new people in my life and I had so many plans whizzing around my head which involved them.

Then along came cancer and frigged it all up for me. My life no longer felt full of blessings it felt like I’d been cursed.  No longer was I fit and healthy, I was fighting a disease which had the potential to kill me.  No longer was I looking in the mirror and being happy with what looked back at me, I was…I am horrified with the reflection because she doesn’t resemble the Lisa that was.  My mind, no longer filling with plans, was now filling with the thoughts of death and dying and leaving behind my loved ones.  No longer was I enjoying being a wife because I’d suddenly become my husbands patient and No longer was I enjoying the company of my family and friends as I was spending all my time either at the hospital or in bed.

So you ask me….whats the fear, why can’t you move on?

Well, most cancer patients will agree, its the fear of it coming back. The fear of it returning with more agression that it did before. The fear it puts in your mind which in turn stops you from planning that trip next year, stops you from planning to buy that new house. Stops you from talking about or making plans for your future because deep down you worry you actually might not have one.

My big sis said something to me a few weeks back which I take forward with me – she said “Lisa, you have to be captain of your own ship”!

Tomorrow, when I wa…..if I wake up, I just want to ask God to grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.

Love, Light & Blessings 🙂

Lisa xxx

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Its been a while.

Its been a while since I last posted……Ive been meaning too, as so much has happened since my last post – but I sort of gravitated to my facebook page and support group and its quite busy on there.

I received a message the other day – asking me if Im dead! *shock* well, you may recall at the start of my blog I referred to the many blogs I had read which ended abruptly…it often left me wondering whether the blogger had passed on or had just got on with enjoying life.

Well, you will be very pleased to hear that I am still alive AMEN!  since my last blog I had an awfully close call with cellulitis in my non breast area which made me desperately ill, I collapsed at home and had to go have more tests to see what was going on, I was on antibiotics for weeks and it took a while to recover…but recover I did.  What else?….oh yes, Ive been through radiotherapy  I got zapped every day for 3 weeks.  That left some rather awful burns on my chest and neck but they are beginning to fade now but my skin is still awfully sensitive.

My nails are beginning to grow back, and my hair too. In fact, Ive decided to keep my hair short for the foreseeable future, its just so much easier to look after.

So slowly but surely, Im beginning to lift out of the darkness which engulfed my life last September.  I recall this time last year I was thrown into the worst turmoil and desperation and I truly didn’t think I would be alive in 12 months…..well I am….and I’m so thankful.

Tomorrow is my 43rd Birthday. Lord, I pray that you will bless me with a 44th.

Amen

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O……M……G

My flippin toenail dropped off! 😦

8 weeks after my last chemo the after effects are still playing games!

its MINGING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

#notahappybunny 😦

 

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Tits Up!

Well, its done.

I am now the proud owner of one breast….thats right, not two, but one…..KMT

The surgery in itself went OK, I was in hospital by 7:15am on 4th May, in theatre at 08:50 and would you believe I was out of hospital by 3:00pm the same day *BBM shock face* – yes thats right…..out the same day.  Now then, not so many years ago, if you had your booby removed, you would be in hospital for anything up to 10 days with drains hanging out your chest and being drip fed for days……but oh no….not now.  Its in……chop….stitch…..out…..NEXT! 🙂

So how do I feel?…you mean besides being frikkin mega tired all the time??….Well, its now 18 days since pinky left me (yes, her name was pinky).  Im still quite achey and sore, I describe it as being kicked in the ribs by a donkey.  I have whats called a seroma, which is a swelling around the removed breast…in some ways the swelling makes it look like I’ve still got a booby there….albetit a smaller one without a nipple, but no, its definitely gone. Amazingly, I still have a cleavage too! The swelling is rather uncomfortable, I can have it drained if it becomes too much to cope with….but as Im made of strong stuff…..Im coping…..just…..with copious amounts of pain relief *druggy*.  My sister said to me before the op…“Lisa babes, don’t go googling Mastectomy videos or look at Mastectomy on You Tube before your op will you?”  I listened to her advice and I didn’t, but as soon as I was well enough I bloody did….man…….now I know why I’m in so much pain!!!

The worse pains are the nerves…..jheezzze – no-one warned me about the nerve thing!!  every few minutes it feels like someone got a hot knitting needle and stabbed me in the scar, then I get a rush of burning sensations and finally like someone pinching me…..I know all you mastectomy ladies out there are sitting there nodding in agreement at that description….its bloomin awful. Im told it will lessen as time goes on. I love that word “time” – as 8 months ago I was sure I didn’t have any!!

Say Hello To Sponge Bob

So now when I go out I have a new friend with me.  May I introduce you to my newest and closest best friend, his name is Sponge Bob and he is very pleased to meet you.  It hilarious, when the door bell rings, I fly around the house looking for my false tit! 🙂  When I use it, you really cannot tell the  “bump” under my clothes is not my own breast.  I will be fitted in a few weeks for my more permanent prothesis so I will no doubt introduce you to it once I have it, I will have to think of names for that one too, its more realistic looking with a fleshy feel and look to it….heres hoping that they do it in “mixed race” colour tone :-).

The scar – well, its long, goes from my cleavage across my chest to just level with under my arm. But right now, due to the swelling I cannot tell what it will end up like. I dont particularly like looking at the scar, it just looks odd so Ive got my head in the sand at the moment ignoring it hoping it will go away lol, its probably just my coping mechanism.  I hope you dont mind me not taking a picture of my scar and showing it to you, if you really want to know what it looks like, I will charge £25.00 a look! loooool.

I had my pathology results from the Mastectomy 10 days after surgery.  We were as nervous as heck as the point of this meeting was to establish whether the months of chemo had worked on the tumour/s.  You will be pleased to know that when they examined my breast in some random lab somewhere in England they found no residual or active cancer cells.  There was also no active cancer in the Lymph Nodes, I had all of those under my arm removed.  It was the best results we could of hoped for and I am grateful, thankful to God, and the man/woman who invented chemo 🙂

So thats me…..just going through the motions of learning to live with one breast for 12 months. Im not really looking forward to the hotter months (its bloody hot now) as I have to figure out how I am going to dress for being 3 dress sizes bigger than I was last summer and also have one tit……K.M.T. Roll on Winter!

Hair growth – 7 weeks after chemo ended

My Hair is coming along nicely, still quite thin on top but slowly, surely eh! No rush.

Radiotherapy starts soon, not had the appointent yet about getting zapped, im sure there will be ups and downs of that too, but in the meantime peeps……….have you checked your breasts recently? Just today alone, 125 women heard the words “I’m afraid to tell you that you have Breast Cancer”

Love,Light & Blessings 🙂

Lisa

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