breastcancerisntfluffyandpink

Breast cancer survivorship ; Reality of cancer

Life goes on…..

My last post was 9/19/12..I’m a slacker! Well, have been busy with family & friends, and just trying to get through the winter, and all that life brings.¬†The holidays were great because my daughter is “back in the fold”. She broke up with the horrible nasty person she was involved with late last summer and within 30-45 days, she was coming around the family again. Her & I are closer than ever, she is working as a CNA and I am so proud of that girl, she has grown so much.

In my last post, I shared a picture of my bust cast for Bust-A-Move on October 5th. That day had a HUGE significance for me because I finished my VERY LAST infusion through the port of Herceptin and it signaled the end of 14 very long months of treatment!! I CELEBRATED that night, had loads of fun and got very tipsy on wine ūüôā

There were 17 busts auctioned for charity that night. It was the 5th year for the event and the record for any one single bust in the first four years was $2,900. WE BLEW THEM OUT OF THE WATER…. “we” being Chelsea, Belinda and I. My bust was the third highest and sold for $4,200!! Belinda’s was second and sold for $4,700. Chelsea’s was the highest – breaking all records¬†and hers sold for $8,500!!! Every dime of that money goes to Cancer Services of NE Indiana, who offer¬†so many things that cancer survivors and their families benefit from :¬†from nutritional¬†supplements, wigs and scarves, classes, free massages, support groups and medical equipment.

I was in tears -balling¬†like a baby because my bust brought so much money for such a worthy cause. BUT, it gets better….I asked my husband, father in law and brother-in-law¬†“WHO bought my bust?!!” because¬†I knew they were watching the bidding war…..They pointed me to a pretty red-haired lady in a blue shirt. I tried to compose myself, and at least APPEAR somewhat sober (but I heard that I may not have succeeded in doing so – LOL). I introduced myself to Edie, thanked her and hugged her very tightly. As I got ready to walk away, she shared a bit of amazing news with me – SHE GAVE ME MY BUST TO TAKE HOME!! It now sits on my plant shelf in the living room – something we will cherish forever! I was stunned, astounded and the tears came in full force again when she told me it was mine to keep.

Edie is a generous soul like no other – beauty, love and compassion radiate from the pit of her soul and one who will always have a place in my heart…¬†a chance acquaintance, who made a¬†great night wonderful. Someone I will never forget.

I am participating in Bust-A-Move this year and every year. Hopefully, if it is approved, I will have 5 other people going to the casting party with me this year….my 5 sisters!! We are trying to come up with an idea for art piece involving 6 busts, but I think it will be better to have them ALL separate,¬†because that way they will bring in the most money for charity.

Life does go on…even though the monkey will always be on my back, I still get up every day, I still smile and I am PROUD to be a WARRIOR IN PINK!

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A day in the life

It has been a long time since I have posted on my blog, and today is just a day I feel like writing. It’s better than being frustrated or crying. Today, I had another test – a CT of abdomen and pelvis to rule out liver issues or liver cancer. Have been having right sided¬†abdominal pain for quite a while, that has lately been accompanied by nausea, random itching, worsening leg pain. Problems with the liver can cause these symptoms…I know the itching doesn’t seem like it would be related but it is. I was put on Neurontin¬†for the leg pain last Friday – which is working but it made me really, really messed up over the weekend. I simply cut down the number of times per day I am taking it and I am at least able to function normally. And I think I am building a tolerance for it in my system. My doctor also did some lab tests last week to rule out chemo induced leukemia or lymphoma – which can also cause the itching, etc.

I really, really am sick of doctor’s, tests, etc. I think after 14 months, I have reached my limit. Someone who hasn’t been there themselves or with a loved one just does not understand the constant battle of cancer. Every time you cough, its a¬†$5,000 test and the possibility of cancer, cancer, more cancer. They are diligent – pay attention to your symptoms, do everything to make sure”just in case” or to make sure they “aren’t missing something” but GOOD LORD IT GETS OLD!!!!

Some people might say “Well, just don’t think about it and it won’t bother you”. Those people can take my mind and my body FOR ONE DAY, then they can tell me not to think about it. Those are the same people who probably post on Facebook ten times an hour how miserable they are from a silly little cold. Or they may be the kind of people who block things out and go shopping to JUST be able to deal with life and themselves.

Just so this isn’t ALL negative and whining about being poked, prodded, scanned and tortured until I am blue in the face….I am proud to say that I have been involved in a great local event for Breast cancer called “Bust-A-Move”. A local roller derby team, The Fort Wayne Derby Girls, along with Cancer Services of NE Indiana, sponsor the event. Bust casts are made of breast cancer survivors and some of the Derby girls. They are “decorated” by local artists and then auctioned off at an event October 5th at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art. This is the fifth year for the event. My bust cast was painted by my Aunt Peggy Tassler, who owns an art studio in nearby Kendallville, IN. She executed my vision wonderfully and with honor, my bust cast was chosen to be on the cover of a local woman’s magazine called “Glo” for their October issue for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The cast has¬†many¬†symbols – for those who have been there for me, those who have died, and represents the journey I have made these last few years. There is a story to be told with this piece of art. Each symbol represents someone I love – right down to the teardrops and the bumblebee. The only part of it that represents me is the fact that it was molded from my body and the yellow butterfly.

Here is a picture of the magazine cover that hits the stands this week.

 

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Goodbye, my friend

On Friday, June 22, I turned 45. No complaints at all about turning another year older-¬†getting old is a privilege denied to many. On Saturday, June 23, a long time friend of mine passed on. Karen was 48, had been diagnosed with breast cancer 3 1/2 years ago. She chose not to do the recommended chemo and radiation and at the time, I struggled to understand that. Her son was only 10 at the time. But now, after traveling down this road myself, I understand perfectly why she made that decision. She had a more extensive cancer than I do. She made flip comments about not wanting to lose her hair but the real reason she didn’t chose¬†that regimen was because she knew deep down that it wouldn’t make that much of a difference. Chemo is not a fun way to spend your last days but our society has kind of pushed it down our throats, made us think that it’s the only way, the only thing to do. It’s not-¬†living is the right thing to do- however we chose to do so. When my cancer returns (not IF, because I’m realistic), I won’t be choosing chemo and radiation. I’ll chose skydiving, white water rafting, bungee jumping, zip lining. Or whatever I want to do. Unless you have gone through it and dealt every day with the poisonous effects on your body and the damage that is everlasting, you need to learn to shut up, be accepting of someone else’s decision and just be kind, no matter what.I had to be diagnosed with the Big C myself to understand Karens decision and it shouldn’t have been that way. She was a little wild back in the day but she was so very kind, loving and no other friend I could ever have will compare to her. They could only hope to be as beautiful and strong, inside and out, as she was. Rest in peace, girl, I ‘ll miss you until we meet again.

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Cancer Lessons 5-8

5. What I’ve lost

Being diagnosed with cancer, you feel a real sense of loss – you suffer physically as the result of surgery, chemotherapy & radiation, and “chemopause” – but the real loss is the one of “innocence”. People around you feel helpless and actually, kind of get tired of hearing about the numerous complaints treatment brings. In fact, I got kind of tired of hearing myself , too! Hard won struggles lead to a new awareness of strength & resilience, a new sense of freedom and new perspectives. Priorities are¬†clarified and trivial things really don’t matter all that much. What I have lost is my ability to be one who stood on the sidelines, watching other people go through the rigors of what cancer does to your body & soul , and my ability to say “whew, glad it wasn’t me”…It was, it is and it will always be a part of who I am. Cancer took on a whole new meaning to me when it happened to me – it was real, took a part of me that I can never have back but it also brought to light a whole new part of me I never really knew existed.

6. What I fear

Hearing the words “You have cancer” shakes your sense of security, safety and optimism about life and your future¬†is on less solid ground. You feel that the world is unfair, unsafe, and uncertain. Suddenly, one of things I feared most-¬†getting old – seemed to be the ONLY thing I want to do. You grieve for your own mortality, think about how your family will do without you here, and wonder if you are “good enough” to get into Heaven. When treatment¬†ends, it brings about¬†a whole new set of worries – I fear and wonder if the treatment¬†I¬†had was¬†enough to beat my cancer – its kind of like “ok, chemo & radiation are done, now what do I do?” I am still going to the chemo treatment room for Herceptin until November, so I haven’t completely “cut the cord”. But I left the radiation treatment room¬†for the last time, I¬†rang the bell they have in the main waiting area that you get to ring your last day of treatment and the whole waiting area full of people were clapping and stood up for me as I walked by. By the time I got to the car, I was crying – tears of relief, tears of joy, tears of pain. I was glad to not be tied down to that place every day throughout the week but I also had a sense of “Dear God, please let it have worked for me.” Now ,with complications from taking the oral anti-cancer med, and having toi have another radiacal surgery because of it in the next few months, I worry that it still won’t work and wonder when I will hear those words ‘the cancer is back”.

7. It isn’t over yet – this will stay with me for a very long time

What will protect me now? Just because treatment ends, people expect you to just return to what things were before cancer. When you are at a high risk for recurrence like I am, breast cancer remains an intimate & ongoing concern. I fear that there are little “pockets” of cancer growing and multiplying elsewhere in my body. After the crisis period is over with, you are left with the grief & the shock. The people around you think that when treatment is done that the ordeal of breast cancer is over with. It isn’t. I will live with the fear of recurrence and metastasis for the rest of my life. I will more than likely die as a result of having cancer. I just hope that I don’t have the total debilitation¬†and wasting away that I have seen people suffer¬†too many times in my nursing career. I don’t want to¬†go out a former shell of myself, I want to go out in a blaze of glory!

8. People say the darndest ( and the DUMBEST!!) things

Oh my God – don’t get me started on the stupid things people say. Sometimes you can tell that they mean well – other times you are fully aware that they are truly living up to the textbook description of IDIOT – with a capital I. Some examples are : “Hey, your hair is growing¬†back – my neighbor’s daughter’s aunt had breast cancer & hers grew back curly when it had always been straight – but then she died”….OK, fine – except for that last part……I had one drunk girl ask me when¬†I¬†had a scarf tied around my head “Are you American?” This was when I was out with family after we left my brother’s funeral – because none of us wanted to go home alone yet. Ummm, let me think about that…..and then I might go Jihad on your ass!! ALLAH!! For goodness sake, I was not even TAN – more like green around the gills from just starting chemo. Someone in my family actually said to me “Oh, I think it would be cool to wear scarfs every day”…OH, you do – OK, well let’s just give you the cancer instead – then we’ll see how cool you think it is – how about that?!! It appears that being diagnosed with cancer gives people a license to say whatever stupid¬†thing they feel it is absolutely necessary¬†to share with you – usually ¬†about the misfortune of someone else they knew who didn’t “survive” cancer. To me, every person that fights – in whatever way they chose – chemo or no chemo, radiation or no radiation, surgery or no surgery – IS A SURVIVOR. This life isn’t all that there is people – dying from cancer doesn’t make you any less special or any less capable of fighting the good fight than someone who dies in their earthly body.

More to follow

Brenda

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Cancer Lessons 1-4

Lessons cancer has taught me:

1.Don’t worry about the weather

Getting diagnosed with cancer makes you realize that worrying about silly every day things like the weather. You don’t worry about things you cannot change like the weather. You smirk at the mundane things people worry about every day and realize with startling reality how silly and trite it was to do so before the big “C”.¬† You want to go back to the days when you, too, worried about simple, mundane things in some ways but in other ways, you wouldn’t trade the lesson you have learned for nothing.

2. You will feel more alone and isolated than you ever have in your life.

People around you will act like you are a leper. You will feel like you are alone on a very long and hard journey that they do not possibly understand. They may say they will be there for you, but reality shows you differently. People will make promises to you that they either cannot or will not uphold. They will expect you to be all smiles and full of hope at all times…..when in all reality, that is impossible to do because it is a very dark, lonely road that brings ALL of your emotions crashing into you like a ton on bricks – sometimes all at once. Even if you know someone else with cancer or along the way, befriend someone else who is going through the same thing – you will still feel more alone than you could have ever imagined.

3. Death will be more real to you than ever before.

Hearing you have cancer that could and probably will kill you, will bring the grim reality of your own mortality crashing down on you like a runaway semi truck. You may have seen people die from cancer and remember the pain and suffering they had endured and you actually may feel jealous of those who die suddenly from and accident or sudden cardiac death. Who would CHOOSE to die a slow, painful death where you waste away to nothing, have that “cancer” smell and be in excruciating pain that only drugs that will make you completely out of it will cover? You think of what your loved ones lives will be without you….you try to imagine your son’s wedding day or the birth of his first child and how he will feel without you there…you imagine your husband starting to date again or get married…..you imagine your daughter graduating from college without you there…..

Death is something you think every day, especially when two other people you knew, who were diagnosed with cancer the same time you were, die. Their deaths will make you feel like you are the lucky one, but you will also feel guilt because you are here and they are gone. You will want to fight this cancer as hard as you can on one hand but other times you feel like dying would just be easier Рand cheaper! This conflict of emotions creates a roller coaster you never stood in line for Рit creates a conflict inside you like a tornado of epic proportions.

4. You would give anything for a bad hair day.

You never fully realize that even if you didn’t have beautiful, thick locks – you would give anything to have the experience of washing, drying and styling your thin, fine hair! Even if vanity and spending exorbitant¬†amounts of money on your “upkeep” – hair, nails, eyebrows, makeup – was never one of your¬†priorities¬†– you don’t realize how much you took it all for granted until it is gone. You miss putting mascara¬†on when you have no eyelashes, you miss not shaving your legs when you have no hair on them, you miss just running your fingers through your hair when you get frustrated, you miss not having eyebrows and seeing your face in the mirror without them. There are times when you are bald that you actually think you feel your hair on your shoulders – is that “phantom hair ” pain???!!You just want to tell people to f*&k off when they are talking about getting a new hair cut or color – and you realize all the little things about your appearance physically that you just took for granted every day. You get mad because your leg hair seems to be growing back at rocket speed yet, your eyebrows and lashes and the hair on your head that everyone can see is growing back at snails pace. You just want to slap the people who saw” Oh, you look great bald”…shut up, please.

More to follow….

Brenda

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A Year in the Life….in 10,000 words :(

I am not trying to get attention and do not have the intention of this blog being all negative. But I do believe that if anyone reading this is curious about the events that can happen (besides Cancer) that lead a person to the very dark, very lonely place I am at right now, a little background is necessary.

For lack of better words, the last 12-15 months of my life has been pretty bad. Hell is a good way to describe it. I try and¬†try to have hope, to find laughter in bad situations, but every day it just seems to get worse and worse. I know that some of this is my doing – I am not only pointing fingers. I know that I don’t deal with curveballs very well. But if one were to look at my story objectively – without judgement – they would probably say as many have, “Man,¬†that’s an awful lot thrown at you in a short span of time”. And as we know, with stress and chemo, it can be a “cumulative effect”. Well, I’ve had a healthy dose of both stress and chemo these last few months.¬† I am going to tell my story – bear with my histrionics.

¬†Friday January 13, 2012¬†– I drove myself to chemo because I didn’t think it was a good idea for my husband to go since he told me the night before he wants a divorce…too much tension in an already crazy, freaky, weird environment. So when I got there, I noticed they were boarding up a very large window at Parkview¬†North Cancer Center that a car had obviously gone through. I was late because I started my car, ran back inside to get something and locked all the keys inside with it running. John called a locksmith. Got to my appointment, on nasty, snow drifted roads at 45-50 minutes late. I get settled in the chemo lab after the nurse missed my port stick 2 times, and my sister calls me to tell me that my doctor was arrested the previous weekend ( and it was just released to the press) on possession of meth, amphetamines, marijuana and led the police on a high speed¬†chase on an interstate. He’s also my mother in laws doctor because she was diagnosed a few months before we married. The first thing that popped into my head was “Damn, did he go through the window they were boarding up” because I didn’t hear well when it had happened yet or where. And the nurse was standing there with my 4th pre-chemo IV med for me to verify name and date of birth and med.¬†Wow, can you imagine how comforting it is to be hooked up to¬†poisonous meds he¬†prescribed when you are on your second to last dose of round¬†two chemo¬†– in your 5th full month of 14 months of treatment – and to just wonder how high he may have been when you saw him, discussed your options, took his advice….Its a pill that gets stuck in your throat and burns¬†all the way down, let me tell you. His high speed¬†chase involved several spike strips being set, resisting arrest by rolling around on the ground with his hands under him so they couldn’t¬†cuff him and repeatedly telling them “What are you doing, I’m a doctor!!”. Well,cherry on top – unbelievable, a real WTF moment. I had a very discreet and professional conversation with my chemo nurse today and I will be getting in with a new doctor in the next week¬† – to meet him or her and possibly, might even just ask him or her to pee in a cup for me for a change! I have never ever been under the influence of anything stronger than cold medicine or over the counter pain¬†relievers¬†while working and when you are responsible for people’s lives – there is zero tolerance.¬† That’s how I roll and have been for over 20 years as a nurse’s aide and nurse. I feel sorry for the doctor, his family, his staff and partners, but it doesn’t excuse his behavior.

Thursday, January 12, 2012:My husband¬† says yes, he wants a divorce. We were not talking because of a major blow-out between him, his son and I Wednesday evening. The conversation began because I had recently overheard the son¬†telling his girlfriend that he wasn’t going to talk to her the next day if she wore a certain something to school and “looked like a slut”. I was simply seeing a lot of tension in him like he gets when he is fighting with her. I attempted to give him some advice about control and jealousy and that from a moms point of view, and to say that looking at it like a mom, ¬†in 2 years, I never noticed his girlfriend dressing in that way. I tried to explain to him different things he could do to build trust and help the relationship but of course, being 16 and knowing absolutely everything he didn’t want to¬†hear it. So then the conversation escalated to him telling me that “At least he worked”(DIG, COCKY DIG AT THAT). I have pretty much been off work from my PRN¬†( as needed, non-benefitted ) job as a nurse since July. Was not released until early November because of recovery time, infections, complications.¬†Tried to go back at the beginning of the second round of chemo in November – frankly, it was hell and one day of 8-9 hrs¬†on my feet was really, really rough and would knock me down for 2-3 days. My husband hasn’t said much at all about it – doesn’t seem¬†(to me at least) be that concerned with me not bringing in income. He knows that even though his mother is working through her treatment, our meds were not the same this whole time, her cancer is different from¬†mine and the way her body reacts is different. Plus, she sits all day – she’s a teller at a credit union and DOES have FMLA, vacation time, etc. He makes pretty good money – yes, we could be more comfortable, we will have repercussions¬†from medical bills piling up but he just doesn’t convey that worry¬†a whole lot of that to me. Except I will say this, married almost 7 months and we always had separate accounts and each paid certain things with the household but guess what, it has become pretty obvious he REALLY doesn’t trust me and our money is still separate. But guess what that leaves me with – not bringing in anything, no money. He has gone out-of-town¬†in the past and at times,¬†I hardly have enough gas to run his son to school or work ( he takes bus to and from school now but during the worst of my treatment, I took him to & from school 3-4 days a week when John was out-of-town) It was October when I finally said no, there is no reason he can’t¬†ride the bus ( And the kid greatly resents me for that). So the argument Wednesday led to the stepson saying to me that ( in my opinion, very accurate assumption) that since he started a part-time¬†job in November, he was suddenly better than me and held enough weight to say or do whatever he wanted. So, that’s¬†what he did. There was no other way to interpret what he said¬† – it was derogatory, vindictive and mean. I promptly reminded him that I wasn’t working because I had CANCER….NO ONE can say that they would or would not be able to work during a 14 months treatment regimen for a very aggressive cancer, unless they have been there, done that, walked that mile. I didn’t think it would knock me on my arse like it has – that I would be a poster child for horrible symptoms I never imagined. That even getting a meal together or sweeping the kitchen would take me 3 times as long, and frankly, most the time, I just don’t do it. I spend a great deal of my time alone, reading one book after another, playing endless hands of solitaire – with an actual deck of cards, the computer games are not my thing) My 22-year-old son certainly wants to be out there doing other things – not bars, he’s not a hopper – but he stays home,playing video games, just to be there if I need someone. My husband quit his new sales job after 5 months because the travel was out of control and it wasn’t sitting too well with him. He wanted to be home more for us. He got back in with his old employer, gained more salary than he made there before but quit 2 months shy of getting ¬†a $30,000 bonus he earned in those short 5 months.

Now, some back story before the meth head doctor, the husband wanting a divorce just shy of 7 months and the cancer diagnosis, etc.

From September 2010 – February 2011,¬†I saw¬†my sweet, sweet daughter (no one that knows her can deny she wasn’t a great kid)¬†do a 180 degree turn¬†because of who she is in love with (A girl who was arrested for meth with her own mother less than 2 yrs ago and is every parents nightmare for the type of person your child is involved with – boy or girl, straight or gay), I have been harassed¬†and threatened by this girl and her family, I saw a tiny glimmer of hope when my daughter showed up at our wedding and things were ok for 1 week, then she came around a little when I was diagnosed in July and had surgery in August¬†( but later thought it was ok to say, along w/ her dad & lover that I faked the cancer and it couldn’t have been that bad if I didn’t “lose my tits” as they so eloquently put it). After her stealing several hundred dollars from someone she babysits¬†for in November 2010 – and we had to pay the money THAT day or he would have prosecuted her, falsely accusing me of threatening her life (CPS dismissed it very quickly), lying almost every time she went somewhere,¬†hiding her car, and leaving her cell phone different places because she caught on we had GPS on it, getting arrested twice in 30 days….I kinda lost it. I decided to let her Dad handle it for a while and kicked her out to go live with him. Bad move, Bad Mom. Bad person. Found out from a friend of my daughter’s one week after she moved to her Dad’s that there was an “incident” at her Dad’s house back in September, 2010 – one I was never told about by my daughter or her Dad. His roommate’s 30 year old¬†son had approached my daughter at 1 am one night, in her bedroom, telling her they needed to “talk”. The friend told me that my daughter denied she was raped but did leave her Dad’s house and went to the friend’s house at 1:30 am. She lied to the friend and her friend’s mom saying that she had “tried to reach me” but I didn’t respond – NEVER happened. I guarantee that no matter how old my kids are, if they call me at 1 am, I answer the phone or AT THE VERY LEAST, follow up¬†when I wake up as to why they would be calling. SHe also told them she couldn’t wake her Dad up – probably did happen because he usually drinks himself into a passed out stupor often, if not daily. This friend also told me that one night when they were having as sleepover, she asked my daughter why she wanted to be a lesbian. My daughter told her that it was because she had been molested by her Aunt’s boyfriend at 7 yrs old and that I knew all about it, but did nothing. WAIT A MINUTE – TOTALLY NEWS TO ME! HOLY SHIT – my baby, I will KILL the SON-OF-A-BITCH. I was also informed that recently, my daughter had engaged in sex with my soon to be step son who is a year and half¬†¬†than her.¬†Can you imagine¬†all the information that was unloaded on me in this one phone conversation??? I didn’t know who to strangle first – my ex husband, his roommate’s son, my sister’s boyfriend, my step son!¬†¬†I got all¬†the information I could about what she had told her, prayed that this girl was not fabricating this for some crazy reason , realized MY GOD, this may be why she is doing what she is doing, this may be the reason for her complete 180 in personality and HOW THE HELL DID I NOT KNOW THIS??? I had already got her an appointment for counseling – since her dad had dropped her insurance, I had to go with a free community service and there was a waiting¬†list but her appointment was amazingly the next week. I wanted to drive immediately to my ex husband’s house – give him the pleasure of being the first to suffer my wrath but instead I went into the bathroom and threw up. Then I went downstairs and told my fiance what the friend had told me. The next step was to call the police and child protective services. CPS informed me that since she was “of the age of consent” ( MY ASS – since when is a 30 year old¬†drunk ass loser scaring the hell out of and possibly raping a 16 year old¬†girl CONSENT??) AND here’s the whopper : Since she had filed a FALSE claim¬†against me in December, anything I reported to CPS would not be investigated. WOW, so even if I had to report a child being beaten to death in a parking lot, it wouldn’t be investigated?? That’s screwed up. They told me to wait 6 months – then the false claim against me would be off of their system….OK< SURE!!! I contacted a detective with the FWPD and was told that they COULD investigate it if I wanted but there probably wouldn’t be any full investigation!!! Hands tied, unless I had some proof FROM her or her dad.¬†The next night when John & I went to her dad’s house after one of her court appointed sessions we all attended, (he wasn’t aware that I knew of the incident in his house YET) I told him that I had good information from someone that¬†“something had happened to her in his house”….He immediately diverted his eyes, started chewing on his hand ( first grader, huh? Not sure why he didn’t just suck his thumb) and screamed at me “Yeah, and I took care of it!!” You took care of WHAT, MOTHAF*CKA! Believe me, it took EVERY bit of composure a person can have not to grab his ever-present beer bottle out of his hand and bang it over his head while strangling him with my free hand. My daughter was screaming “Nothing happened!! Nothing happened!” With the phone calls made to the proper authorities being poo-poo’d, I have never felt so helpless in all of my life and all I could hope was that she would open up in counseling and the truth could be known, one way or another. Within a few days, I started getting harassing¬†phone calls from the roommate – the mother of the alleged perpetrator. She accused me of “fucking with her family”…blah blah blah. I logged the calls – because you are supposed to have a certain amount of calls before it is considered harassment¬†unless they threaten you. Well, they stopped – for a while – because obviously, she was threatened with “getting kicked out” by my ex. She lived in his basement with her boyfriend – and neither of them worked for the whole time they lived with him – over 3 years. Her son stayed there for a short time – my ex kicked him out a “few days” after the incident with out daughter – why it took him THAT long is beyond me.¬† On March 10, I got the last phone call from the female roommate that was so lsurred, I cdould harldy undertsand what she was saying adn then by doing some investigating on Facebook, I found out that her son – the alleged perpetrator – had left town the NEXT DAY!! Fled the state, no one knows for sure where he went. This all came about AFTER my ex thought it was being investigated.I took her car back and let her Dad figure out how to get her to school since he lived in district for another high school, she couldn’t get the bus. I took the car back because he was letting her do whatever she wanted, stay out all night and obviously she took full advantage of the fact that there were NO rules at his house. WTF did I do?? But still, I was not going to be financially responsible for HIS lack of parenting.

March 2011:¬†Hard, hard month. She started counseling in late February,completely denied any of the¬†information¬†her friend had told me and refused to let me go to counseling with her – YES, even though I signed her up – they LET this happen, believe it!!¬†The “counselor” was a MAster’s student at IPFW, a local college. It was free, and I really had no other choice since she was uninsured. (Hands tied wherever I went). It also became increasingly anxiety producing for me¬†because her dad stopped talking to me about what was going on with her ( and still does not answer my calls, blocked me on text because in his infinite wisdom, made the diagnosis that I was¬†crazy and schizophrenic – HMMM, didn’t think toolmakers¬†were qualified to do so). He also ¬†kept trying to get her to¬†get me to sign¬†some bogus child support calculation for me to pay him weekly ( he was $10,000 in arrears at the time she moved out) and also had her send me a blackmail letter that she should get the car we took away back or she should get half of what I made if I sold it since her name was on the title too. I had put it up for sale, and she agreed to sign off on it but then she waited until we were on our way over to have her sign the title before a¬†buyer got back to the house with cash to tell us she wasn’t¬†going to sign it – and even though she is a minor, there is nothing you can do if the other person will not sign a title to sell. So, the car has been sitting since then. Her dad had changed the oil once and put a cheap battery in it so they thought they were entitled to half the profit. I paid $2.800 for it and had someone coming over with $2,900 in cash. We were willing to give them their fair share what he put into it – $200 max but it was declined.

April 2011:¬†Elder care issues: a room becomes available at the nursing home my mother is on the waiting list for, and had been on for 6 months – with the knowledge of the¬†whole family.¬†Rooms do not become available in that specific unit too often – it’s a¬†memory care/dementia unit. I had been mom’s Healthcare POA¬†for several years. The majority of my siblings ( there are 11 of us total but I think only 8 or 9 of us went) go to see the room, the facility and it instantly turns nasty with fighting, power trips, downright nastiness. As her POA, I get started on the paperwork for admission and some of my siblings are thinking we have several days, even weeks to let them know. I work in the same kind of environment, I know you have a time frame – either you want the bed or you don’t. The day I get the call the doctor has her paperwork done, all hell breaks loose. Two brothers threaten me with court, saying I am not able to make a decision for my mom as her POA¬†because of the trouble with my daughter…(But, all of them had been more than willing for me to take care of all of Mom’s health decisions for years, and even sometimes found it in themselves to thank me for all I did for her), another brother acts irrationally, as he tended to do at times, ¬†so my sister who was staying at Mom’s that night doesn’t feel comfortable staying¬†there alone with Mom & brings her to our house. The brother shows up, police were called by my sister when I didn’t even have a clue he was there – he began¬†banging on the door shouting and demanding to see Mom and she called the police. It¬†was a mess, a terrible way for grown adults to act in just placing their mother with Alzheimer’s and Vascular Dementia in the home she always said she wanted to be in at a time she needed to go – it was obvious that she could not live alone and it was a lot of strain on all of us, even with her “care”split many ways. ( Kind of thought of it as honoring her wishes when we all agreed 6 months prior to put her on the waiting list – ut when it came time to make the decision, and actually¬†DO it – all hell broke loose). The bulk of her care fell on just a few of us for several years, and it had caused many problems in the past. We were trying to work out a system , a calendar for staying with her at night and checking on her during the day after one brother and his wife moved out of her house. The day of her prospective admission,¬†at the suggestion¬†of the Social Worker at¬†the home and of Adult Protective Services,¬†over half the family was not told about because of their reactions and threats. So when they found out that she was going to be admitted, (even if THEY were not ready – funny, THEY were not the ones being admitted), one brother and one sister ,who is also a nurse, took Mom to a lawyer and had her sign new POA¬†papers that made my sister/ the other nurse and I co-POA’s¬†who had to agree on everything 100% and she, of course, objected to the admission so it didn’t¬†happen. Sad, sad day. They tried to get me completely thrown out as POA¬†and tried to seek emergency guardianship over Mom but they lacked any proof that I was unfit and lacked any medical documentation that she required guardianship, so they lost. It was US VS. THEM and Mom was caught in the middle. So several of us dropped out of staying with her – myself, 1 other sister permanently, and 2 other sisters for a few weeks or a month, and one brother because of mounting health issues. The pool of available help dwindled from 10 or 11 to 5 or 6. I dropped out because ya know what, if THEY didn’t think she was ready – let THEM take care of her.¬†(None of them¬†have never apologized for, with¬†the exception of the brother who was banging on the door – he apologized to me just before he died in September).Myself and one of my sisters who handled mom’s financial matters was advised by Adult Protective Services to apply for guardianship of Mom, so we gathered over 5 years of medical data and everything was set – no reason why it shouldnt be granted for my sister and I to be co-guardians because we gathered the necessary information, we had our ducks in row, so to speak. Some of them who had initiated the trip to the lawyer with her to sign new POA¬†papers ( which she had no business signing due to her diagnosis 3 YEARS PRIOR!!!!) swore to fight it every step of the way. In April, I had absolutely no contact with my ex husband about my daughter, the wedding plans were overwhelming me and the house building situation had twists and turns and issues toward the end. So, I asked the only brother who was on “our side” to take over for me as guardian of Mom’s “person”…my sister would remain financial guardian. He agreed, because he clearly thought it was a personal vendetta and he said he would do it¬†if it would get them off my back. He made them promise that if he stood in for me, they wouldn’t fight it.¬†They swore it wasn’t personal against me but ironically, they didn’t fight his¬†guardianship. I think they still would have gone to the hearing, and fought it if it didn’t happen to fall on the exact same day and time as our nephew’s funeral in June, 4 days before my wedding. All in all, it was a very, very hurtful thing for me to go through because for years, I had single-handedly and gladly taken care of all my mom’s medical issues, did a great job of keeping ALL of them informed whenever she had anything going on and I personally gave up a LOT to do these things for her¬† including a full-time¬†job with insurance, a lot of time with my fiance and kids and a small bit of my sanity. But she trusted me, I know her medical history as well as my own, and I made the time to be her primary caregiver once she was widowed 10 years before. The end of April brings the news that John’s mom has breast cancer – she was told it was noninvasive¬†ductal, lumpectomy then they will see if chemo and radiation are needed but most likely, would not be.

May 2011:¬†We moved into the new, smaller house, a good stress, a good decision but still stress – especially 4 weeks before a big ass wedding. The week after we move, John’s mom’s has her surgery for removal of breast lump, I did not go with him because I had to watch my great nephews and nieces because the same day, my brother-in-law¬†has emergency open heart surgery¬†and¬†¬†he just buried 2 of his brothers already that year from heart related deaths. Still minimaL contact with my daughter. Maybe its all the things going on, but I tried so hard¬†to just let go and let God…..hoping she would come back to our family and things could begin to be healed. She was done with counseling in May, I only went one other time and the time that I went, her girlfriend was driving around the parking lot, stalking me. ( My sister was with me ,and got the pleasure of witnessing this) I ask my sister to step in as bridesmaid in my daughters place,¬†the dress fits my sister perfectly so that’s it – she doesn’t want to be a part of our wedding, the show must go on. Going to go through with the wedding without my daughter there – even though my heart was breaking in a million pieces, I knew I had to go on and just pray that she would come around eventually, and stop hating me so much. John interviews for a new job that would require 50% travel, and he would work out of our home when he is here.

June 2011: John starts new job, involves 50 % travel…ok, we can manage¬†that, not much more than before¬† at his old job. Then 9 days before wedding, 40-year-old¬†nephew – 4 yrs younger than me¬†dies suddenly. Shock, sad, unbelievable¬†– that’s¬†not how it’s supposed¬†to go. Heartbroken for his fiance, his son, his mother and father – and all I can remember is how the very first response card I got back was from him saying “We’ll be there. I can’t wait. Love you guys”. Didn’t really want to go through with big wedding but money was paid – NOT that I didn’t want to marry John but it felt weird having such a happy occasion 4 days after a funeral. Why couldn’t my husband to be who had never been married just have agreed¬†to elope?!! John’s mom has to have another surgery because the cancer WAS invasive after all, and second surgery is 6 days before our wedding. And she has to have chemo & radiation after all. DAMN!!

Family rift over Mom temporarily improved, probably a lot due to the shock of nephew’s¬†death, but I still have a lot of anger – and still do to this day – for what they did.¬†Three days before my wedding, the day after nephews funeral, Mom falls and breaks her collarbone. Thank goodness it wasn’t worse but I stupidly asked “What else is going to happen!??”(Word to the wise – Don’t EVER ASK THAT!!) Not sure if she can make it for the wedding but we are just going to have to see how she does recovering¬†and keep fingers crossed that at least she can come to the ceremony and get a few pictures….the weather at least was gorgeous ( haha – FOR NOW!!) ¬†My niece was making my wedding cake at my house the day¬†Mom fell and my Maid Of Honor was flying in that evening.My husband to be was out-of-town¬†for the 3rd week in a row before the wedding ( he was only home the week after we moved in)….SOOOOOOO, Did my best (without being ¬†medicated for nerves) to get through the¬†prospective outdoor wedding and THEN……. it rains – only on that side of town, and only¬†when we had the park for the wedding¬† – REALLY, GOD, REALLY???!!

My sister falls & hurts herself at the park in the rain,trying to put the tulle on the gazebo¬†for the third time, my brother had gotten my mom there – in a wheelchair – then had to get her back in the car when it started pouring, people were arguing, John was calling me every 5 minutes to ask if he should move wedding to¬†our alternative site¬†– the reception hall –¬†and guests were arriving at the park, photographer¬†had arrived……. I tell him “call it-¬†done! See you at the reception¬†hall at 5 pm!” I get a little upset, after 18 months of planning for that outdoor wedding-¬†walk into the kitchen and pick up glasses to put in the dishwasher – in my wedding dress – and slam it shut, hearing¬†at least one glass break.¬†Then I just said whatever, it doesn’t matter where I marry him – just need to stop getting upset – ¬†lets load up in the vehicles before the rain hits here – sky was rumbling and there was about 100% humidity.¬†My husband to be drops a gun out of his car and almost got arrested when he was trying to leave the park and get to the reception hall where the wedding had been moved. Earlier in the day, my hair-do fell completely flat by the time I get home from the crappy salon and my sister has to re-do it in a rush. Then my hair barette¬†breaks and I have to steal my bridesmaid’s flower clip. My junior bridemaids knock wine off the counter and spill it all over three of¬†¬†their dresses a half hour before we were to leave..( OK, those wedding day blunders are kinda funny on their own – but add it to the rest of the stressors that had ALREADY occurred¬†this year¬†and I found myself saying : Really??¬†couldn’t we have just had a nice few hours to get married in that beautiful gazebo¬†in the park?? Really??) Wedding night & honeymoon to Michigan were the best days last year by far…..June 18-25, it was wonderful except the cold rain on my 44th¬†b-day the 22nd but we just drove from one city to the next & got sunshine. Oh, and we stayed in a bed & breakfast in Saugatuck, MI¬†that was a former funeral home – only ones there that night..hahaha, of course. Renamed it – Dead & breakfast.

June into early¬†July 2011: ¬†Actually, isn’t¬†too bad – minimal dysfunctional interaction with daughter or her friend. She had showed up at the wedding¬†– while we were taking wedding party photos after the ceremony¬†and my sister gave her the dress to put on so there are ceremony pictures with my sister and the group photos with my daughter. But, it appeared for about a week that things were on the mend with her and I. APPEARED that way, until her girlfriend decided otherwise and believe me, if you saw their interaction or heard the way this girl talks to¬†and controls¬†my daughter – you would understand how¬†screwed up¬†that relationship¬†really is and how much this person¬†has taken complete control over my daughter. Never in a million years did I think something like this would happen – but it did, and don’t think that it can’t happen to you. Just like cancer, it CAN¬†– it’s almost worse than cancer for me. John was traveling 75 % of the time with his new job, not 50%, but we were doing fine. It was hard, but we knew that it was a job he¬†really wanted and the same type of job he had interviewed for two times at his previous employer but didn’t get.¬†It was a big raise, but eventually, the money became¬†not so important when cancer¬†and stress¬†came into play.¬† I stayed busy with work, the boys, the dogs, the new house,my friends and my sisters, having little girls nights with salad and wine and movies ( and chocolate too , of course) and having long conversations with friends that it is hard to have when your husband is home. Enjoyed the new house, ( less to clean!), enjoyed some quiet¬† and “down time” after¬†the wedding hoopla and the boys were gone more so I had some free time.

Then, on July 18,2011 my brother had a quintuple heart bypass and mitral valve replacement Рthe night of his surgery we all were called because they feared he might not make it.( He was in ICU about 23 days and did make it out of there, more news on this later)

Two days after that, I go to my annual pap smear/breast exam that I had put off over 1 1/2 years due to no benefits at work. I had given up full-time¬†because I was missing a lot of work due to Mom’s escalating health issues, and constant doctors appointments¬†and several ER trip for my daughter. Got wrote up for the first time for missing too much and for asking other people to work for me. I dropped down to PRN¬†to avoid getting fired…still worked 25-40 hours a week, but had no insurance for myself – or my daughter whose Dad then ( for the first time ever since she was a baby) got¬†a policy on her but kindly dropped her without notifying¬†me in 2009. It was the first time since she was little(when I started working for an insurance company as a utilization review nurse)¬†that he had to carry insurance on her. See, back when we got divorced it was the parent whose birthday¬†fell first in the calendar¬†year that carried insurance¬†– I was born in June, him in October. Plus, I got a no deductible, $3 ALL prescriptions, excellent 100% coverage for less than $20 a week family plan because I worked at one of the best insurance companies in the area at the time of our divorce when she was 5. So, anyway, July 20th, 2 days after my brother’s surgery, I had my annual and at 3:45 pm, I was sent over for an emergency mammogram and ultrasound ( And yes, I knew this lump was there – for several months but when you have no insurance, whatcha¬†gonna do?)…all alone of course because who takes someone with them if they don’t have to¬†a pap smear.¬† John was out-of-town, not due back til late the next night. After the tests, I was sent back over to my OB/GYN’s¬†Office…..sat down on the little couch and she promptly walks in and says “Well, I hate to tell you this but it is breast cancer. You’re my third one today” (Well, heck – don’t I at least get a consolation prize or a sucker or something??) She gets on the phone, calls the surgeon we both agree upon because it is who my mother in law had used for her breast cancer surgery a few months before and set me up for a consult with her at noon the next day and biopsy at the hospital in 2 days then sends me on my way. I leave the building in sweltering heat, feeling like I am out of my own body, then wanting to run back in there and say :”HEY, I’m a nurse – where do you get off calling this cancer when a definitive biopsy hasn’t been done?” and maybe add bitch¬†under my breath¬†cuz I’m upset. I turn around but the doors to the medical office building are locked because it was after 5 pm. So, I remove my glasses fogged by the humidity, grab my phone, try¬†to call my husband but he’s in meeting because it 3 hours earlier where he is. I call one of my friends, she isn’t home. Call my sister – she’s said she would come over. Call my other 4 sisters – 3 of them came over also. I have no idea how I drove home that day – I don’t remember a thing until I came in the house, visibly upset and had my 22-year-old¬†ask me “What happened? Did your brother die?” I think my sisters were in shock, but after the situation our brother was still in – it seemed surreal to all of us and kind of like there was a curse on our family – with nephew dying young, brother holding on for dear life and now this with me. Before my sisters get there, I had to sit down on the couch and tell our 2 boys¬†and my son¬†took it like a sledgehammer at 50 mph across¬†his face. I will never forget that look on his face –¬†horrible, heart wrenching, WHY??¬†The eyes and the head dropped, I tried to reassure him¬†through my tears that it was only SUSPECTED at that time but something inside of me knew, I just knew. Don’t remember much of what my stepson’s¬†reaction was – he was in shock but is younger and frankly, I am not his real mother, so of course his reaction is going to be different and the only emotion he shows readily is anger!! ¬†I had felt the lump “come and go” for at least 6 months maybe longer but like most people who are uninsured or underinsured, I didn’t go to get it checked out. My husband finally calls back and when I told him, he¬†was very quiet, had to ask if he was still there, I think he thought I was playing a sick joke¬†and shortly into the conversation, he says “I gotta go, Call you later” (WTF??)…..It turned out that when he got off the phone with me, his boss immediately¬†arranged a flight home for him and told him to get¬†home. He had to fly into Indy instead of Fort Wayne where we live, and where he had left his car. He arrived on the last flight into Indy, rented a car, drove to the Fort Wayne airport, got his car and arrived home at 3:30 am. He wanted to be there for me, and for the boys¬†and he didn’t want to miss my consultation with the surgeon the next day.¬† Surgical consult done the next day, genetic testing done to see if I carry the BRAC¬†1 or 2 gene which would require a total mastectomy and possible total hysterectomy if I carry one or both because it greatly increase your chance for reoccurrence¬†of breast cancer or occurrence¬†of ovarian cancer.¬†4 weeks to wait for result of genetic testing but she wants to do surgery before that. Biopsy done the following day – pain, pain, pain….. Results of biopsy given to John & I four days later and she wants to do surgery ASAP. Gives me the choice of having just left mastectomy, bilateral mastectomy or just have the lump removed. All options would also include over 5 months of chemo, 12 months of Herceptin, a monoclodal¬†antibody that has some of the same side effects as chemo – and that 12 months will begin on the second round of treatment, not right away – so 14 months of treatment thru an implanted port and having to be tied down to the chemo room. Then 5 years of an oral drug. Radiation only required if I opt for lumpectomy¬†and save my ta-tas. So, see, I had many options, I chose one of the most difficult, in order¬†to save my girls, but I question it often. No radiation would have meant less risk to damage my heart because radiation on left side of body can cause calcifications¬†and damage¬†to the heart muscle and also scarring in the lung on that side. My estrogen and HER2/NEU receptors are positive, which means more treatment for me than just those who go through chemo then radiation.Herceptin¬†can cause congestive heart failure, and I have to be on that for a total of one year.¬†Surgery scheduled August 2nd, one week from finding out the results.

August 2011:¬†My best friend ( now former best friend) comes in from Michigan to stay with me as long as I need her to¬†after my surgery. She is not really a “take charge” kind of person, and it was a little tense at times because I really needed to rest, but she would constantly wake me up if someone called or come ask me 5 times how to fold the shirts. One day, I find her and my husband in his den with the door closed, giggling and flirting with each other – but THAT’S ok, a woman who just had¬† her¬†breast cut into and knows she is going to lose her hair, feels that she become a lot less attractive and feels like death¬† – well, my NO , She shouldn’t get upset about something like that, should she?¬†People tend to forget the¬†“emotional ” side of cancer. Plus, I am¬†a woman who just doesn’t put herself in the kind of situation like that – being in a closed¬†room with someone else’s husband is not something I would do whether they were sick or not, present or not. I don’t think it is too much to expect of other people.¬†There was no reason for the door to be closed, no noise they were trying to avoid – I was the only other person here and I had been asleep on the other side of the house – with the door closed. She stayed almost 3 weeks, but that¬†was too long for many, many reasons. She is a very sensitive kind of person – you can’t tell her that she has BO from not showering for 4 days or she’ll go off into a tailspin. She wanted to be here to help but frankly, gave herself more credit than was due because she didn’t do a whole lot while she was here. I guess I just expected too much but it seemed like it was more of a vacation for her – away from her household duties, her husband and two teenagers. I also let her mother stay her for 10 days while her step-dad was in the hospital – not that she was a problem but I did open my door to her at a very stressful time for us¬†because they lived 50-60 miles from here and my house was 10 minutes from the hospital he was in.She went¬†back home before school started for her kids and the week before I started chemo. Chemo dose # 1 is¬†two days before my niece’s wedding, my brother is out of ICU, recovering slowly with other medical issues popping up, but¬†we both managed¬†to go to the wedding. Felt ok that day but the next day the chemo mudslide hit me hard – slept for 2 days……24-72 hours after a chemo dose is when it all kicks in. Kids start school the same week as chemo and trying to have some “normal”. John was gone at least 50-75% of the time, always seemed to be gone the weeks after my chemo – my worst weeks. One saving grace was a sister who came over and cleaned a few times and another sister who arranged for people to bring meals to us 3 days a week. Other than that, the phone calls, the visits dwindle to almost nothing and I find myself talking to the dogs and playing a lot of solitaire.

September 2011: Forgot to mention that in May 2011, my ex husband filed for custody of our 17-year-old¬†daughter and tried to go for me paying him $110 a week in child support. Of course, we cannot afford to get a lawyer because I am not working, John is not about to put out money for me to fight him – he did offer one time but then never really brought it up – it was obvious that it wasn’t really a priority with John. The hearing to have child support put into a trust until custody decided( which he had been paying since she moved out because he KNEW how far behind he was – it was always a joke with him that he knew he would be paying til she was 22 or 23 to catch up for all the times he got behind). But haha, he suddenly came up with all these cancelled checks – which were only the front of the check – not really proof of cancellation – that he had paid me by check during all the numerous times he was laid off. It never happened, but I was a nice ex-wife and never took him to court for all the back support but we had a verbal agreement that he would catch up in the end – while she was in college. Verbal agreements are worthless and so is giving your ex husband the benefit of the doubt. We always got along so well, in fact, other people were jealous of the fact that we did. He came to parties I had for her, he liked my fiance, we just did not have issues. Saved it all up, I guess.

On labor day weekend, September 1st and 2nd – my hair is falling out in clumps – one week after my first chemo – so I decide to shave it off. My husband shaves his head also – he’s such a hero, but he just doesn’t realize that doesn’t make up for his emotional distance. He hasn’t shown any emotions, and with his mother and I being diagnosed in a few months time – where is it? I begin to wonder and it becomes more and more obvious that he is trying to be “strong” but all it is doing is beginning to come between us. My emotions are like a roller coaster – am I going to die? Are my daughter and I EVER going to regain our close relationship? Why couldn’t cancer have happened to my EX???!!!

On September 7th, I take my brother who had the heart surgery to an appointment with a cardio specialist who said he was released, doing fine and suggested he go see a GI doctor for his abdominal pain. He had a drain for gallbladder issues since surgery – it occurs with patients sometimes after heart surgeries. Well, two days later – on September 9th, he died in the car on the way to that GI appointment. Coroner said he had a clot that went to his heart. This was exactly 3 months to the day since¬†our nephew had died. His funeral was packed, an all out musical fest with live music, he would have liked it but it still would be better if he was still here. I feel guilt – did I miss something when I was with him 2 days earlier – was there something I could have done? We had our differences at times, but I am nowhere near as close to any of my other brothers, or really, truly¬† to my sisters either, as I was with him. He called me once or twice a week at least once he got out of the hospital to tell me how he was going to be there to help me – take me to chemo, spend time with me, etc, once he got better.¬† When he called, he asked me how I was doing and REALLY listened. I missed that because I knew he really meant it, I knew he wouldn’t let me down. He loved doing karaoke and I knew that even if he could not do anything physically to “help” me – he and I would at least have fun getting together to do that to keep both of our spirits up. He was fun to spend time with, and he really listened to my feelings. He was a great, great guy who will never be replaced. A part of me was gone.

End of September, the hearing is held to have the child support put into trust until custody hearing over with December 5th. It is granted.

October 2011:¬†One sister and John’s cousins wife organize a team to walk at the Breast Cancer walk. A few people show up. I don’t feel well enough to go because – well, chemo sucks. Neuropathy is starting in my hands and feet, have been on 2 rounds of antibiotics for infection at the surgical site because my body is rejecting the disolvable¬†stitches. But people don’t realize that sometimes, breast cancer¬†patients get sick and tired of the “pink ribbons”, they are nice and fluffy but putting on a pink ribbon pin or wearing a pink ribbon t-shirt does not make you are “supporter” of breast cancer.Understanding that because of the devastating¬†blow that the diagnosis brings and the poisons that are running through their body, they are not going to always be themselves, they are going to be a¬†roller coaster that doesn’t seem to have any end and the many, many other terrible things that are going on in their lives DO have an impact on their reactions, their feelings and their overall being.¬†I was trying to be positive ( when cancer is a very negative thing to go through), but during Breast Cancer Awareness Month¬† – I was inundated with so many cards, posts on Facebook and was beginning to feel like ok, come on, give it a rest. I know people mean well, but sitting and listening to the fears, the anger, the hopes of a breast cancer patient make you a supporter, not wearing a pink ribbon. I found out that there are a lot of people who feel this way once I started getting involved in blogs, support group websites, etc.

On October 1st , we had a “birthday” party for one of my sisters, John, my late brother – first and only party we have had at our new house. My husband had won a hot tub just after we moved in the new house ( but it sat there at Master Spas until January).¬† October is the month your best friend decides that since you have cancer, you can’t have any thoughts, feelings or anger when you catch her and your husband in¬†another awkward situation¬†that she just perpetuates by lying more. She came here to¬†stay again on October 1st (self invited)¬†– planned on staying over 2 weeks, but was only here 4 days because one day while she was on Facebook, and asked¬†me to come up to her to look at something¬†– she was reading a message she had gotten about a relative of her husbands who died of breast cancer that day, you see that there is a message between your husband and her that says “Tell me when it is safe to call”. Hmmm, thats¬†strange, huh? She very quickly closed down her messages, and acted very strange. So, later when I¬†calmly¬†ask her what the message¬†was about – she denied it even existed. And because your husband freely shares his password with you, you log onto his account and see that in fact, it is now deleted from his messages. Your husband acts like he doesn’t know what¬†I am¬†talking about at first (¬†I quickly see that they are going to try to use the excuse that it must be your chemo brain!)- he was out-of-town¬†again when¬†I called him – but then when I clearly state to him what I had¬†read – he admits it WAS there. He says the conversation was between her HUSBAND and him, on her Facebook¬†account¬†– ok, whatever – but your friend was still denying it existed, lying flat-out¬†to your face. Cancer or no cancer – that shit pisses me off. She left the next day and I haven’t talked to her since. So a few weeks pass and another “friend” of mine starts asking¬† me a lot of questions about the situation with that former friend I haven’t talked to. I don’t say much because – well, what is there to say. She lied, I didn’t like it, it made me very uncomfortable – as I am sure it would MOST women, even if they weren’t at one of the lowest points in life to be at. THEN, that “friend” tells the one who lied that I was going around telling EVERYONE that she was a two-bit whore. WOW, amazing, that I was doing that because I was¬†not saying much about the situation or about her to anyone.¬†I talked about it so little¬†¬†that 3 weeks after she left, my husband had to ask me¬†if we had talked or not yet. Because, see, I tell him everything. AND, I had maybe talked to one¬† of my sisters, briefly about the situation – other than that, hadn’t talked to anyone. So she then decides that it is in her best interest to try to turn my sisters against me and sends a very nasty message about me to 4 of my 5 sisters. I told her via message a few days before this that there were a few things¬†she had left here that I was going to send back to her – personal care items and a new box of cold medicine. The message to my sisters included the following comment from her “Tell her not to send back my stuff because she probably tampered with or poisoned my meds”. WOW, WOW, WOW – amazing how someone can go from “I would take this chemo for you if I could because you’re the best friend I have ever had” to “She probably poisoned me” . Good God, who needs enemies when people¬†like that¬†call themselves “friend”. One of my sisters lovingly sent her back a message where she agreed with her that I was a rotten bitch. And I have not talked to her¬†since then either.¬† Blood is NOT thicker than water and I thought this was grown¬†adults here, not high school mean girls! That same sister decides that TWICE she was not going to show up with a meal on the days she OFFERED to be on the calendar in October and November. She didn’t even notify my sister who took care of the calendar. Man, that’s¬†love, that’s¬†support, that’s being an adult. Grow up. Nevermind that I took off work for 10 days to drive¬†that sister¬†back from California when she moved back here a year ago.

November 2011:¬†Have to have a bone scan because of sternal¬†pain (that still is present). Doctor concerned that there could be spread to the bones there because of obvious redness, swelling and pain for several months. This redness and swelling can be seen and felt by other people, it wasn’t just an anxiety reaction by a poor cancer patient. Bone scan shows arthritis in my sternum. Tell my daugher¬†via text of course , because she will never actually talk to me, and she says” good, I hope it has spread and I hope you die”….

Preparing for custody hearing for a child that wants nothing to do with me. No lawyer, no clue what to say or do. And an ex husband and daughter who really would rather see me 6 foot under. My ex¬†has not communicated with me since¬†March about our daughter AT ALL. I send her a text on Thanksgiving day that says “Happy Thanksgiving. I love you. I miss you”. Her response was “quit harassing¬†me”. You cannot imagine the pain, unbelievable – what is a person to do with something like that? Your husband just says “Oh, don’t get upset. She”s¬†not worth it”…blah blah blah. Yep, that’s¬†support. Just forget about the child who grew inside your body and to whom you were so close to that it feels like your heart has been ripped from your body…sure, just don’t let it get to you. Be calm, move on….sure. After Thanksgiving,¬†my mom is admitted to an “assisted living” memory care unit at another nursing home¬† – St. Anne’s still has her on the waiting list but after seeing how our family acted, they certainly won’t ever be admitting her there. The new place is NOT really a nursing home, which even my other sister who is a nurse and did not think mom needed to be in¬†a facility a few months before – says it might not be the right place for her. But, now, since some of the ones who really never had to be around Mom that much have had to step up to the plate now she’s needs to be admitted. Funny, I think that extra few months just gave THEM time to prepare themselves and realize after they had to help take care of her how bad her memory and health issues were. In late November, I was sitting home one day when two Sherriff’s showed up at our home. One at the front door, one at the back. The first thing that came to mind was that something happened to John or one of the kids. No, they were here on a “body attachment” for a $400 bill that my ex husband and I owed to RediMed from 1998. I had moved several times after our divorce and the notification of a hearing for this matter was delivered at my mother’s house – in 2008, TEN years later AND¬†4 years after I moved in with John and a few years after she was diagnosed with ALzheimer’s. Guess who never got the notification?? I am sure my siter will find it when she goes through the boxes and boxdes of stuff my Mom had shoved in a closet.¬†So, they were very nice and didn’t arrest me in my pajamas with no hair. (The officers informed me that they had been told that I kept guns on hte premises and that’s why they came to BOTH doors with weapons drawn!! MY GOD!! My husband has a gun safe that I don’t know the combination to but I have never, ever even held a gun in my hands!! I went ot small claims court the next day as I was told to do and they informed me that since I was not currently employed and was going through treatment for cancer that all I had to do was call them in 6 months and let them know what my situation was and the body attachment was lifted then and there. I told the clerk that the Sherriff had come to my home and she thought that maybe I HAD called them on another matter – strange person, intruder, family dispute and thats when they realized I had a body attachment.¬†I told her no, I was sitting on the couch, watching The View, playing solitaire. She said that most likely someone had “turned me in” then. Well, it didn’t take long for me to figure out who – it was 2 weeks away from the custody hearing….duhhhh…and the next day , my daughter admitted that her dad, her girlfriend and her did it. They thought it was funny. My goodness, some people will stop at nothing to bring misery and turmoil. If Karma does happen, I hate to see what happens to them when it gets them. Just plain nastiness and spite.

December 2011:¬†Custody hearing December 5th is the biggest joke ever. Ex husbands lawyer produces documents that are bogus, somehow the judge accepts his personally typed up “spread sheets” and checks that show he paid me child support he was behind on but do not show any PROOF that I signed those checks, etc. Judge sits and doodles, almost falling asleep while you present your side and he says he will make his decision in the next few weeks. He awards ex husband custody, but doesn’t require me to pay child support because he is smart enough to see that the cancer is preventing me from working and having any kind of regular income. But somehow, believes that my ex was never behind in child support and that suddenly, he has overpaid ME and that I owe him $2,900. Plus he so kindly requires me to pay $1,000 of my ex’s legal fees. Well, good luck getting blood out of a turnip, sucka. The lawyer kindly reminded me before we left the hearing that day that his client WOULD go after child support from me IF my situation changes. Hey, thanks for that. Nevermind that your client is and always will be behind in child support from years of being laid off, not paying while he was laid off and not ever getting caught up afterwards – but hey, that’s ok, lying just comes naturally to nasty bastards like you, right?

So, as you can see – my year sucked. My life sucks.But, as I am told over and over – just”¬†Keep that sunny disposition”, “NEVER give up”,¬†“God wouldn’t give you more than you can handle”…..¬†in an all around negative situation that my life has become. People have said to me “I couldn’t deal¬†with half of all that has been thrown at you this year alone” but they seem to be the same people who can’t understand when I do get emotional, who just¬†want me to shit butterflies and vomit rainbows. I do want to live – I want to be a grandmother, or even a great-grandmother. I want to celebrate¬†30 or 40¬†years or more worth of anniversaries with my husband I just married but I also can’t help but think that the odds are stacked against me. Everything in my life seems to be turning to CRAP. There have been so many curveballs thrown at us this year, it feels like I am in the path of an out of control fast pitch machine with no way to get out. I have tried two different anti-depressants, but had very bad reactions to both of them and had to stop them – which stopping them suddenly messes you up also. I have not gone to counseling but I have a very deep seated anxiety about costing too much money in co-pays and deductibles…..it appears that we are sinking into a financial hole I don’t want to put my husband in.

So the next time you want to judge what I say or how I react – think about how you would handle the situation with your child alone, let alone everything else that has been out of my control that has happened to me in the last year or so. Then, when you really walk a mile in those shoes – you will understand and maybe you will fare a heck of a lot worse than I have. I am strong, but there is only so much one mere mortal can handle.

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Cancer Sucks

Some people seem to think that you HAVE to – “Oh, darling, you just HAVE to” be fluffy and pink when you are diagnosed with breast cancer. I say screw that. I am not one that is ALWAYS a pessimist, glass half empty type of person. I do try to have hope and instill hope in others because after all, I am a nurse – and a damn good one¬†who doesn’t just pass pills and take vitals. I know that my touch, my caring words, my smile have helped those who I have cared for along the way. I am pleasant, albeit blatantly honest, with people. I think most people are so wrapped up in themselves that they can’t handle knowing they are wrong, they made mistakes, they just can’t seem to MAN UP about who they really are and make a change. I am one who has been known to give, give, give to other people – IF there was an emergency, if¬†they needed advice – they called me. I am a bitch, yes, and see – I am not afraid to admit it…..I know what mistakes I have made in life, I know my weaknesses, my character flaws but I also know that I am one thing that we ALL are : HUMAN. I have never identified with either the school of “glass half full” or “glass half empty” schools – I am neither,I prefer to think of myself as a realist, thru and thru.

For instance :

*Teenagers are going to lie and try to get away with anything they can

* Pedophiles should NOT be trusted with children

*¬†Dogs will poop on your carpet if you don’t let them outside

*Cats are temperamental beings who will come to YOU when they want to be petted

*Mothers and fathers make mistakes

* Pay your electric bill or they WILL shut it off

* Cancer isn’t always “curable” – once you have it, you probably will always have it unless something else kills you first

Being a realist sometimes really stinks. You just can’t seem to fit those rose-colored glasses over your eyes and flit about your day like an air-headed blonde who doesn’t have a clue ( No names will be mentioned for the sake of tact & being nice – not being the bitch everyone knows me as!!)

That wool just doesn’t seem to QUITE cover your eyes on most things. ANDDDDD, being a realist – you see the “MALIGNANT” as it really is. You still have that little girl waving a lollipop without a care in the world inside you somewhere saying “YOU WILL BE THE ONE WHO BEATS THIS ALL THE WAY….ZIPPITY -DO-DA-ZIPPITY-AYE-MY-OH-MY-WHAT-A-WONDERFUL-DAY”.

But then , the realist in you smashes her hopes, squashes her dreams because you KNOW that the odds are against you. You know that having come from a family of heart disease ridden people, you thought you were going to have the easy way out and die on your living room floor of a sudden myocardial infarction or slip into a coma from a massive stroke

. DAMN IT!!! Now, you have to re-assesss….you just may get to suffer and die from metastatic cancer instead – “BUT WAIT, THAT’S NOT ALL!!!” If you call in the next 10 minutes, we’ll throw in a healthy dose of unrealistic, unsupportive, uncaring people to be right by your side (NOT!!) the whole way…..Deal of the Century ūüôā

So, this is my blog about my cancer. It’s no¬†different from¬†anyone elses cancer but my journey is one that I feel I need to share because I am convinced that there are other people who have cancer out there who will relate, understand and maybe gain some perspective from someone who isn’t all about being ONLY as optimistic as you can – cuz that’s the ONLY way to be.

My blog is about real feelings, raw emotions, pain, joy, hope, more pain, chemo poison, anger, laughter, more anger and finally realizing whatever it is that I am on the way to realizing now that the anger is SLOWLY subsiding. Buckle your seatbelts, this isn’t a kiddie ride. This roller coaster ride is affectionately being called “THE BEAST”….the only roller coaster in the world that ever made me tinkle a little in my pants.

Brenda

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