Sunday, April 24, 2011

Someone to Walk For - Part 1

I am honored to be walking for my cousin Pam (the lady to the left) in the Weekend to End Women's Cancers. She was treated for breast cancer at age 43. Today, she is doing well.

I asked her if she would mind sharing her story. I anticipated doing this in typical journalistic style. But she wrote it so well, that I'm going to simply post Pam's story in her words.

Here is Part 1 of Pam's story.

Due Diligence

First I have to go back to a little earlier in my life to have anyone reading this understand why it is so important to be diligent in one's own health. Over 20 years ago I switched family doctors and my new doc took into consideration the fact that I was an adoptee, in making recommendations to me with regards to what I needed to do yearly. One of her recommendations was that I have a complete physical at the very least, every other year. I did one better by having it done yearly, and I did so from the age of about 23, up to and including now.

During one of my first physicals, I had my doctor show me how to properly do a self breast exam, and I've been doing them ever since every month. So when I did finally find something, I knew with absolute certainty that it had NOT been there the month before or was too small for me to detect at that time.

In January of 2009 at the age of 43, my life changed forever. During one of my, by now routine, self exams, I found what no woman ever wants to find. A LUMP. That word took on a life of its own. The very next day I called my doctor and was told that I could not get in that day but the next day they had an opening. That was not going to do me any good as I was leaving that day for my vacation in Cuba for a week. So, I booked an appointment for the day after I returned. Cuba was wonderful but I constantly had my future playing in the back of my mind.

The Diagnosis
Upon my return, I went to my appointment the next day, and I got to hear the words, "this warrants further investigation" and see a look of concern on my doctor's face. Sitting there in my gown on the table in the examining room, I could feel my brain goes into self-talk mode with the mantra, "Don’t panic, don't panic, and don’t panic!!! BREATHE dammit!!!!!!!!!!"

So, I calmly got dressed, made my way out to the reception desk, was told that they would call me when my referral appointments were booked, said thank you and left.

I got in my car and proceeded to drive home and on the way, in my medical information haze, I drove through a red light with a police cruiser RIGHT BEHIND ME!!! About two whole blocks later I finally saw the flashing lights in my rearview mirror and realized they were not chasing some deviant criminal. They were chasing me! The officer came to the window and I still had no idea why I was pulled over. I'm not sure why but the officer gave me a stern warning that I needed to concentrate on the road and let me go at that. I took his advice long enough to get home in one piece.

I walked around in a daze for the rest of the weekend, and by Saturday evening, I had my first of many short-lived private pity parties. The pity party would start with just that....self pity (the why me's), which would set off a whole series of emotions, tears included, that always ended with the self talk inside my head, yelling to just knock it off, do what you have to do and get over this.

One thing I do know, is that anyone that has been told they may have or do have cancer, all of us have had that fleeting moment where one has to entertain the thought of dying. I know I did and I hate to admit this, but it was NOT a fleeting moment. I even went so far as to make sure I had a will which until all this happened, was always one of those things I would get done, someday.

Part 2 of Pam's story will be published next week. In the meantime, any donations to the Weekend to End Women's Cancers are greatly appreciated.

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