And So…..

It is another 1st of March.

I am celebrating 24 years, today, of being clean of my first of three cancers. My thirties were busy: I had cancer diagnosed at 33, 35 and 39. It really was not my idea of how I intended to spend that decade. In fact, my first cancer made me wonder if I would see the next decade.

God spared me to be with my family, and marry Jim when I was 42. I was blessed to share Zush’s life while she was on this earth, and have my girl Kasia with me still to keep going.

I managed to work long enough to retire, and move down from the city.

I am ever thankful that life goes on. It is not possible to encourage you enough, gentle reader, to keep after your health, as you never know what is going on in your body.

December

It’s going to be a long month.

We both are suffering body aches and poor Zush is hanging in as best as she can. I talked to a neighbor when I was out today, whose wife has been fighting cancer for FOUR years, and it seems that she is about to lose her struggle, which is so very sad, because he is a good guy and his wife is a sweetheart.When people remark when I tell them my cancer history, I am always blessed, but know how hard it is to keep going.

I watched the lighting of the tree in Rockefeller Center tonight, and remembered when I saw it with my nephew many years ago. I always give thanks for the meaning of the season, but it’s hard to stay in a Christmas spirit alone. It’s the way it goes though. We muddle through one day at a time, and as for me, I guess my Christmas gift is every time I get up at night, hear my Zush snoring gently, and am able to swing two legs out of bed and stand up. My birthday gift, yes: it is my birthday month, is the ability to spend every precious day with my girls.

They are the best pharmaceutical for me.I thank God for them!

Another Good Anniversary.

This was an anniversary between me, God,Jefferson University Oncologic-Gynocolgy department and Dr.Charles J.Dunton,not to mention other doctors, nurses, staff, my best friend Kate and religious advisors.

I was diagnosed with stage 3 cervical cancer 23 years ago today.What an experience! Doctors, nurses, having to call my parents from the hospital to inform them that I wasn’t coming home because a grapefruit was found in my cervix and I needed exploratory surgery.Then came the pain of them coming to see me in the hospital and seeing the pain and fear in their eyes.That pain I will take with me to my last day.Kate was living in Pittsburgh at the time and drove back on the weekends when I was in for my chemotherapy.

I usually make a post on this every year to show the people who might “think” or”know” they have cancer.You really can’t ignore it. You need to take a pro-active stance on trying to get the invader out of your body.I went through a radiation and chemotherapy protocol that was so effective that it is now the standard for cervical cancer treatment.You never know.

If you have a friend or family neighbor going through the disease, be supportive, if they choose to tell you about it.Let them know you’d like them to be around for a good,long time.

That’s why I am here 23 years later.

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Survivor’s Guilt Redux

Yes, I know I shouldn’t have it.I got through 3 major cancers and I am still here.

My niece, Alyx, isn’t.

She would have been 37 today.She left our family 18 years ago on September 2, when she was 18 years old.

I managed to get through college, travel,have boyfriends,get engaged and married, hold jobs,have cats, dogs,watch nephews and Godchildren grow up, but Alyx is like Princess Diana to me. She will always be 17, as she was before the cancer, and always beautiful.I got some solace from the fact that she passed away the week Princess Diana, classical conductor Sir Georg Solti and Mother Theresa died.

They sure were short Angels in heaven that week.

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Still Crazy After All These Years….

Today is the 22nd anniversary of my first conquering of cancer.

My first cancer had me treated with radiation, chemotherapy and a radiation implant.It wound up, between biopsies and office treatments with a total hysterectomy with the cancer gone. Granted I have had cancer after that, and they also were not insignificant, but it only takes one brush to tango with mortality.

I thank God for wanting me around a few more years, my surgeons, physicians, nurses and hospital staff, and ,as usual, my BFF Kate, who kept me going.Always check- it saves lives-I should know!

  

With apologies to Simon and Garfunkel

“I was twenty-one when I wrote this song.
I’m 23 now but I won’t be for long.
Time hurries on,
And the leaves that are green turn to brown.”

I’ve quoted this song before in a prior blog.It has gone through my head today as my oldest nephew who lives in Minnesota is 39 today.

Thirty nine.

Where does the time go? I am retired, he is married and has two boys of his own.I used to go out and see him during the winter break from college.He was such a cute little guy and is a handsome man now.

It is so funny going into the retired chapter of your life. I thought I’d be retired, and I end up working.I thought growing up I’d be a Mom, and I have to fur children who I wouldn’t trade for the world.I never, ever thought that I’d be A cancer survivor let alone a THREE cancer survivor, thank God.

Time does hurry on.

I am thankful, on this thanksgiving eve, for every morning I get up with two feet on the floor. I am thankful for my family, but most importantly, I am thankful for my friends.

Happy Thanksgiving.
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It’s that time of year

….at least  for me!

Today is my 22nd anniversary of my 1st cancer, and the protocol I was fortunate enough to get into at Jefferson Hospital, and have Dr.Charles J.Dunton as my oncologic gynecologist.

Chemotherapy ,radiation and a hysterectomy later, I was blessed to be good to go.

I’ve had two other cancers since then, breast and thyroid, and mercifully I got through them. It pained me , though, that I lost my 18 year old niece ,Alyx, to a mid brain tumor, and yet I was still here, thanks to my employer’s health plan.

This is always an anniversary for me: it reminds me God’s not done with me yet. 

 

Life’s Short

The joke is where we have moved to, well, let’s just say I’m one of the youngest people here, full-time wise.

A good percentage of the residents come down for the summer, or part of it. A neighbor of our that we would have lived immediately next to, if we bought the first house, lives in Collegeville. He has been coming down here for ten years or so. He is married and has two adopted and one biological tumor.His age is somewhere between mine(55) and Jim’s(60).

He came down here over the weekend with one of our neighbors and his family.

He wants to die here at his house here.

He has a mid-brain tumor.

For those of you who know me personally, or have been reading the blog for a while, you’ll recall I lost my niece, Alexandra, to a mid-brain tumor.She died at 18.

What flashbacks this has brought back to me, my neighbor’s illness.A brain tumor is definitely NOT how you want to go out. It is a fight, a hard fight.

My neighbor and I were walking past his house and one of the neighbors came out and said he isn’t expected to last the night: hospice is there with them.

We mourn the man, but rejoice that his suffering will be done. I am happy he actually hung in through the car ride to get down here, but I know this was his final wish.

Kiss or hug someone you know after you read this. Do it for me.

Life is too damn short.

Here we go again

I have a buddy here at Undisclosed.

Oh yeah…shocker. I have a buddy.

Well, I do have a few, but this one is a fellow cancer survivor, for now. She is once again dealing with the ugly beast beating at her door.

Her cancer is back, but this time with a vengeance.

Her breast cancer has spread to her spine.There aren’t too many folks around here who understand what folks who have cancer feel, which is what drew the both of us together.Now that it is back, while I am here full-time, she has to start daily radiation and chemo. I told her that since I am not working, if she’s around, and wants company, to text me and I’d go over and keep her company.

I have learned not to promise someone with cancer that there is tomorrow, because there may not be. I can help them with their journey as folks have helped me. Fortunately I have, for now, made it through.But even for us who have “made it through”, no one gets a guarantee.

All I can do is to pray for her and be a friend. It’s a scary time, and no one should go it alone.

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It Was Thirty Years Ago Today**

** with apologies to Lennon and Mc Cartney

It was thirty years ago today,
The city of Philly started giving me pay….

Nah, I can’t twist those lyrics that badly, especially since I like that song.

But…

On this day in 1911, a dispatcher in the New York Times office sends the first telegram around the world via commercial service.On this day in 1977, NASA sent the Voyager II, an unmanned 1,820 pound spacecraft into orbit.On this day in 1984, I became a full-time employee of the city of Philadelphia.

Thirty years.**shaking my head**

I can’t believe it.

I am truly blessed, especially in the day of companies relocating, folding, high unemployment….

My nephews Matthias and Gregory weren’t even born yet.My parents were both alive and I was living in the home I grew up in.I was probably**gulp** 80 pounds thinner and a lot more optimistic.I know I was scared. I left a small publishing house to work for the city.And now, thirty years later, I work a half city block away from the home of that first post college job.

Full circle? Yup, it certainly seems that way.

I thank my brother Bob for kicking my butt into getting this job.Without this job I’d probably not be here writing this blog.My medical plan from this job got me into a protocol for my first cancer.Without it, I might have died.When I started this job, my Mom asked me to call her in the morning when I got to my desk so she didn’t have to worry about me here in the city. Toward the waning years of her life, I called her every morning to make sure she was ok.The circle of life strikes again.

It’s funny.I appreciate being my age, but that melancholia can envelope you when you stop to think about back then.I’d like to think I have learned from my mistakes I have made, and with what I have learned, stare the future down and say ,”Here I come.”

Thank God!

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It was 20 years ago today….

with apologies to the Beatles….

I had my first cancer diagnosis 20 years ago today.

I thank God, Charles Dunton, M.D.,currently of Lankenau Hospital, and his protocol
for starters: they got me through it-the chemo, radiation, radiation implant,and
surgeries.The nursing staff of the oncology floor of Jefferson Hospital were also
awesome.Top it off with a supportive family, and I am still here today.

Thanks, God.

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Excursions

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I have to leave the realm of canter city and go out to a suburban hospital.

Of course,I would only have a 22 degree day to go out into the wilds for. I
need to go because it’s a yearly visit , so there’s no excuse for not going.
My excitement just got wetted because it is the first time I’ll be on a bus
with THREE digits( meaning suburbia)

It’s the little things…..lol

Special Day

My Brother Bob is sixty-three today and I am blessed to have him as a brother.
Without him, there would have been no taking care of Mom at home. The past four
years have worn us down, but with God’s help, we are both here. I love him
to the ends of the earth and wished him this morning in Polish,”Sto Lat”,
meaning may you live a hundred years.

My sister from another mother..lol..Cynthia is turning the speed limit today,
and after the year she has had, she deserves to put the petal to the metal and
go.She endured chemo, radiation and surgery and I was blessed before this to
have her in my life, but now I am doubly blessed to still have her.

Happy birthday kids! I love you both.

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Uh-huh…

November will mark my 20th year since my diagnosis of my first cancer.

The flu shot I got on Friday is probably the 19th of my post cancer
life.

The cold I have had since yesterday?

My first post flu-shot ever.**sigh**

I have run the gamut of allergies and unfortunately, what I have
now is a plain old, run-of-the-mill, head cold.

Timing with the flu shot? I hope coincidence. The fact it is autumn
now? Summer colds suck, but guess what? Autumn ones aren’t much better.

Clenching of the jaw….

Things are really amazing in life, you know?
You can go from 0 to 60 MPH in a heartbeat.

Then, in the next breath, you get news that old buddies are on the verge of their last heartbeat.

Please hold a good thought for us as we get caught up, momentarily, in life’s speed up.

Hold a peaceful thought for my old friend, who managed to become diagnosed with cancer in
the seven years since he retired. He is losing his battle, and may his trip be a
peaceful one.

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A very special Friday thanks…

It’s 20 years ago today that I finished my first total completion of cancer treatment.

I had cervical cancer at age 33. I lucked into Jefferson Hospital and Dr. Charles Dunton. I had radiation, chemotherapy and a radiation implant. The treatment was so successful, the tumor was gone, and I had to have a hysterectomy to make sure it hadn’t spread further.

Without all of this, I wouldn’t be here. I am truly thankful this Friday.

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Eighteen years redux….

I am cheating.

With the help of some editing, here’s a post from last year, brought up to date..thanks for bearing with me.

Now nineteen years ago, I was thirty-three years old. I had moved out on my own. And three months into my independence, I had a really bad lower back ache. You know how when you are hurting eventually you can get yourself into a position to fall asleep? Well, that November, I had my first 48 hours of NO sleep-the pain was that intense.

A visit to my gynecologist, who was an old guy in his late 70′s and on staff at Jefferson, revealed a cervical tumor the size of a grapefruit. Funny how as I never had any issues before in my life and here you go: what do I get butmy first one comes out of the gate like gangbusters. I was on the doorstep of stage three cancer.

Welcome to the world of cancer.

Fortunately, I had the luck of being sent down to a oncologic gynecological surgeon, Charles Dunton, who was working on a protocol for cervical cancer. I had daily radiation, chemotherapy, a radiation implant, and two weeks prior to my scheduled total hysterectomy, my pre-operative exam found NO tumor! The surgeon said he would have never know what was there, if he hadn’t been in on my case from the beginning. They had to do my surgery, because there was no guarantee the cancer hadn’t gone into my lymph nodes.One of my BFF’s, Kate, would come down from Pittsburgh on the weekends when I was in Jeff and there is no better buddy in the world…**Note to Kate-how I remember those 7th floor Gibbon visits-you ALWAYS were my rock!**

Fast forward through later cancers and health issues, loss of family members, finding my Jim, gaining two girls named Zush and Kasia, and my mother’s dementia and earlier this year, her passing.

God has me here for a reason, although when friends are suddenly gone due to cancer, I will be the first to admit the survivor’s guilt is great. I no longer wonder why I am still here. I just accept it, give thanks for it and realize a greater statement was never made than….” If it doesn’t kill you, it makes you stronger.

Here’s hoping to see you all for 20.

Thanks for reading.

Life lessons

A friend and I were talking about something that transpired that we both knew about.

“Does that surprise you?” she had asked?

Hell no.

I can honestly say nothing surprises me, er, the fall on the driftwood did , but here are a few current gems for me:

I like people, but my genuine friends I can count on 1 1/2 hands…really. I have come to trust my judgement on things: that is, impressions are made when people aren’t trying to make them. That is when their true self comes through. I have made my way through too many cancers to waste my time. I only spend time with people who I care about and matter to me. Life is too short to do otherwise. My Mom always said,” when people praise you, it gets back to me.” Funny, that you hear things after the fact, and most of it is surprisingly good.
I was granted my current age by the Creator, and I was put here with a purpose only He knows and I might have a faint glimmer about….anything else is the business of no one but me.

It’s good to achieve age: I am truly blessed.

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Life lessons

A friend and I were talking about something that transpired that we both knew about.

“Does that surprise you?” she had asked?

Hell no.

I can honestly say nothing surprises me, er, the fall on the driftwood did , but here are a few current gems for me:

I like people, but my genuine friends I can count on 1 1/2 hands…really. I have come to trust my judgement on things: that is, impressions are made when people aren’t trying to make them. That is when their true self comes through. I have made my way through too many cancers to waste my time. I only spend time with people who I care about and matter to me. Life is too short to do otherwise. My Mom always said,” when people praise you, it gets back to me.” Funny, that you hear things after the fact, and most of it is surprisingly good.
I was granted my current age by the Creator, and I was put here with a purpose only He knows and I might have a faint glimmer about….anything else is the business of no one but me.

It’s good to achieve age: I am truly blessed.

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It was twenty years ago today…

…or so the beginning to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club band goes….but for me it was 28.

Twenty eight years ago, this T Rex of an employee was green around the gills, walking into the  first day in a big government agency scared half to death. By the grace of God, here I am 28 years, 3 cancers, plus Shingleman, minus parents later, and I am still here.

Go Figure.

The benefits I received from this job saved my life, for I surely would never have been on a protocol for my first cancer. The friends I have made and KEPT along the way are choice-with them I am truly blessed. So today I am tuly thankful to those who guided me to the finding of this job, guided me during my early years, and on the bad days, guided me away from darkness.Those of you have been with me along the way know the road has been bumpy, but it has been great sharing the bumps along with you.

**hugs**

Friday five

I have thought that I should dedicate one blog a week to work on a list of things to help keep my perspective .
Right now I am a little out of sorts, so bear with me.

1. I am thankful I am employed and get a check. I am burnt out from being there 28 years, but there has always been a check. More importantly,I am grateful for the friends I have made along the way.

2. I am forever thankful and in love with “Shingleman”. God smiled on me the day I met him.

3. I love my girls, Zush & Kash…..enough said.

4. I thank God ,after 3 cancers in my 30’s, for every day I put 2 feet on the floor. Some people can’t .

5. I am waiting for the day when I am no longer tired……

Stay tuned next Friday…..

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Feeling a little blue

 

….and I came upon this sign.

 

This church is down at the “Undisclosed Location” and we pass it on a daily basis.

I have been weathering a lot recently, Mom, and then Jim and his shingles,and just couldn’t seem to shake the malaise I felt.

I saw this sign and thought to myself that truer words were never spoken.

This Thursday, the first of March, will be 19 years since I have been clean from my first cancer. Yup. NINETEEN. Through radiation, chemo, radiation implants…..NINETEEN.

 

Malaise, whatever….I am grateful to have two feet ON the ground.

 

Back where I started

I am returning to the scene of the crime this morning.

My current Gyn/Oncologist moved from center city to the far Northeast . Dr. Charles J. Dunton , who treated this almost stage three gal 19 years ago, has graciously agreed to take me on again. He left the city a long time ago, and is now affiliated with Lankenau hospital.

Successfully being treated for cancer and ever- mindful of the fact, it feels like I have come home. A lot of the staff have been with him for a while.

Here’s hoping for a good visit.

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18 Years ago…..

Eighteen years ago, I was thirty-three years old. I had moved out on my own. And three months into my independence, I had a really bad lower back ache. You know how when you are hurting eventually you can get yourself into a position to fall asleep? Well, that November, I had my first 48 hours of NO sleep-the pain was that intense.

A visit to my gynecologist, who was an old guy in his late 70’s and on staff at Jefferson, revealed a cervical tumor the size of a grapefruit. Funny how as I never had any issues before in my life and here you go: what do I get butmy first one comes out of the gate like gangbusters. I was on the doorstep of stage three cancer.

Welcome to the world of cancer.

Fortunately, I had the luck of being sent down to a oncologic gynecological surgeon, Charles Dunton, who was working on a protocol for cervical cancer. I had daily radiation, chemotherapy, a radiation implant, and two weeks prior to my scheduled total hysterectomy, my pre-operative exam found NO tumor! The surgeon said he would have never know what was there, if he hadn’t been in on my case from the beginning. They had to do my surgery, because there was no guarantee the cancer hadn’t gone into my lymph nodes.One of my BFF’s, Kate, would come down from Pittsburgh on the weekends when I was in Jeff and there is no better buddy in the world…**Note to Kate-how I remember those 7th floor Gibbon visits-you ALWAYS were my rock!**

Fast forward through later cancers and health issues, loss of family members, finding my Jim, gaining two girls named Zush and Kasia, and my mother’s dementia.

God has me here for a reason, although when friends are suddenly gone due to cancer, I will be the first to admit the survivor’s guilt is great. I no longer wonder why I am still here. I just accept it, give thanks for it and realize a greater statement was never made than….” If it doesn’t kill you, it makes you stronger.’