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!

  

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 really sucks sometimes 

The vet called me this morning with the results of Zusher’s blood work.

The good news is she isn’t diabetic-hah something I could deal with.

Liver enzymes are elevated, calcium is elevated, she may have anal sac cancer and the vet just kept throwing things at me on the phone here at work between my tears.

Prayer and good mojo desperately needed.

Thanks!

  

Dog E Howser, MD ( with apologies to Doogie Houser MD)

So in the continuing saga of Zush being under the weather, I had an assignment from the vet.

I had to get a urine sample from her.

Jeez.

I had surrendered enough of me through all my cancers and stuff, and now here I am, Zush mom, and I am going after her with a ziplock bag to catch pee.I had no problems doing it, as anyone who knows my relationship with my girls, especially Zush, well, I would do anything with them. To top things off, the vet tech had said on the phone that if I couldn’t get a specimen, don’t let her pee before she gets into the office and they would get it from her.

HAH! No one is going to insert anything into my Zush to give her any discomfort. I had faith that I could get the sample. Indeed, I did.

Keep the good mojo and prayers going, please. I will post tomorrow on diagnosis.

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Labor Day

I was blessed for thirty years to work in a job that had a union.

Sure, when you are a kid out of college, you have only what you studied in history and political science classes to supply your basic knowledge, but once you are in the position, what an education you get with it. You learned what previous workers fought for and won for you . The health benefits my Union fought for and won are the reason I won my most serious battle with cancer in the fall of 1993-1994.

Tomorrow is Labor Day. For me it’ll be a day of being thankful for being a lifelong Union member.

  

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.

Ow..

…posting a wee bit early because I am heading off to urgent care in a little bit.

Sometime yesterday afternoon, I did something to my right hand. I don’t know if it is something that happened all of a sudden, or as my buddy Kate asked, “was it due to trauma?”, or what.I have an issue with a few of my fingers and tendons so I really have to get this taken care of.

When I was between my first and second cancer, I had been tested for carpal tunnel, and was told that I scored off the chart.That was taken care of by no surgery but by chiropractic visits and b-1 bomber vitamins, which was a type of complex vitamins. My theory at the time was my right hand is my money hand. I am right-handed, so it would have to be something really pressing to get me to go that route.Hopefully, the trip today will calm this hand down, and if I have to be off the Mac Book Pro and/or Iphone for a bit to quiet the hand down, so be it.

**Fingers crossed**

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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Trying to put a spin on the negative

We just came from the street we used to live on to pay a sick call to one friend’s Dad and a sympathy call on another friend who lost her 47-year-old daughter to cancer Thanksgiving eve.

Jim says to me .”Everyone’s dying.”
Me:” We’re still here.’

Kasia and Zush in the back of the car coming back and Kasia starts:” Barkbarkbarkbark.”
Me: “I grabbed her leash and told her we all have a right to walk the sidewalk.”
She stopped.

Jim and I had talked about how we loved living on that street and how it became a street where everyone was moving, sick, or dying.We said where we are moving is a different spot, where people are like us going through or having gone through what we have.We tend to socialize there more than we do here.

I am praying for an upturn.

Fighter

I went to make a sick call for Church tonight and stopped at a former neighbors while I was in the area.

I heard her call,” Come in.” and did, only to see her crying.

My good friend lost her 47-year-old daughter to cancer. She passed away today.

I immediately thought back to my niece, Sandy, who passed away at 18 to a mid brain tumor. Jeanne passed away today from metastatic breast cancer at the age of 47. She left behind her mom, 2 brothers, 2 sisters, husband, and two children, 10 and 8 years old.

Jeanne fought the good fight and gave it her all, but as I say a lot: cancer is a very mean disease.

Heaven needed another angel.
Rest in peace, Jeanne.

Pink month,er, green?red?yellow?

I have had numerous cancers in my 54 years.

Cervical,to start, then breast, then thyroid, and sprinkle in some skin cancer along the way.

I was at the dermatologist today having a squamous cell carcinoma taken off my face located in front of my right ear.I had four biopsies last month, and cock-eyed optimist, me,well, I had made this appointment today with hope of going in only to get biopsy stitches out.Hah! I,in the back of my head, knew better.

The cancer that they took today was one that I found.Oh yes;I am an old pro at this by now. It was raised and starting to get itchy.I asked them to take it when I went for my annual check-up.I was very fortunate, for now.It was in the state of being ” in situ”.This meant it was so early that they couldn’t even put a stage on it yet.I can’t conclude on it yet, as I have to wait for the results of what was taken today. The physician hopefully got clean edges, which would show the cancer has not spread.If the edges turn out to be not”clean”, well, I’ll be back in for treatment.

My skin is light and freckled and my eyes are hazel.I know I am prone to this, and sometimes sunscreen isn’t a safe enough guard.The thing is I CHECK.No matter what, I CHECK!

Gentle reader; I appreciate all of you and would like you to keep on reading.Please be here to do so.Check yourselves for cancer.It may not be your favorite thing to do but it saves lives.I have lost a niece to cancer and other sporadic family members have had it.Trust me-we don’t want any more members in our club.

Your life is priceless!

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The week that was…

It has been a long week for me.

The fact that I am still putting the ointment in my eye twice a week seems to make it even longer, although I am admittedly,seeing a bit better.

A good buddy of mine who I worked with for thirty years is leaving tomorrow to move on the west coast to retire.I am getting together with him and another buddy in September and we are going out for a retirement lunch and drinks. I am looking forward to that.

I haven’t been sleeping too well at night.Perhaps I am just all upset because my buddy, Anna, had to put her dog down: it was full of cancer.Dog Mom that I am, just thinking about it causes tears in my eyes.

Here’s hoping for a quiet weekend.

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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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Blue skies for some

Today was the dermatologist visit.

Never mind the fact that they kept me waiting forty-five minutes,knowing that my nerves were shot from worrying about the result.Then, as I sit in the examining room,I hear the resident and the nursing assistant and the doctor conversing about my biopsy results. Two seemed to concur that they couldn’t be found-oh, what a comforting feeling..NOT.The resident was then told by the dermatologist that my biopsy results were sent to a neighboring university hospital that rhymes with Men.It seems that if you are a HMO patient, that’s where your samples are allegedly sent.Uh, ok.sure…

The stitches came out and then the resident brought the dermatologist in.Well, I figured I’d ask the million dollar question: what were my biopsy results.The dermatologist? ” Cancer all gone.”

What am I? TWO?

Suffice it to say I will not be taking him at his word but will be writing to request a copy of the biopsy results be sent to yours truly.Once I can read it, only THEN I’ll believe it.

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Exercise Modified

The nicest thing about doing my flip fitness class is that it is adaptable.

There is no drill sergeant maligning you step in line in unison, and things go that nature. In fact, Jackie, my instructor, is one of the most pleasant women I know.Since I had my cancer cut out last week, I had to be really careful with the right side of my neck.The stitches are in and I couldn’t have anything loosen up. Flip fitness allows me to modify my movement and baby the bad part, while exercising the rest of me.I am glad that I have the ability to attend this class: the friendships I have formed and the laughter is almost as full of exercise as the exercise itself. Sometimes in class I have never laughed so hard.

Jackie had said to me that while going through the medical trial that I am now, it is good to come to class because it lets your mind unwind.

My body doesn’t mind it either!

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