This year, I’m proud to participate in the second Send A Little Love outreach campaign for those touched by breast cancer. Essentially, 200+ authors, including me, donated more than 2000 books to be given by someone on behalf of someone they know touched by cancer during October. Breast Cancer Awareness Month evokes mixed feelings for me. First and foremost, gratitude. Second, though, comes the remembered fear coupled to determination. Let me explain.
In December 1995 I had everything to look forward to. I’d completed the degree requirements to earn my Bachelor of Arts in English. We’d just moved into a new house in a suburb of Indianapolis. My two young children were growing and thriving. Life was good!
The next month, however, I found a lump in my left breast. Immediate concern choked me. My maternal grandmother and mother both died from breast cancer. As a result, I routinely performed the self breast exam every month. I contacted a doctor nearby and scheduled an appointment. She examined me, felt the lump, ordered a mammogram. The results came back clean. Really? But there still remained a palpable lump. Off to see a breast surgeon, who ultrasounded the area but that proved inconclusive. So he did a needle biopsy and sent me home to wait for the results.
And they came back… malignant.
The surgeon outlined my choices and recommended a complete mastectomy, bilateral being his preference. Not mine, though. I chose a lumpectomy, which was performed within a few weeks due to my family history. The surgeon removed the tumor and several nodes under my left arm. Back at home, the next day my daughter had her birthday party, with the help of a dear friend who stepped in to play me for the day so that my little girl didn’t miss out because her mother couldn’t supervise the fun. I’m sure my hubby was very glad for her help, too!
Then the surgeon called to tell me that I had to go back in a week later because the excavated tissue didn’t come back with “clean margins” or noncancerous tissue on the outside. They’d left some behind. Another trip to the operating room. After that surgery, the doctor told me that he recommended chemotherapy and radiation along with oral chemotherapy in the form of Tamoxifen daily for 5 years. My heart sank but my children needed me as much as I needed them. That coupled with the fear of dying, of never seeing my hubby again, of leaving my children before they had learned to be independent people motivated me to do everything in my power to keep life as normal as possible during the ordeal.
So, my daughter was in a pageant. My son “graduated” kindergarten in May. My son’s baseball team played their games, and my daughter’s soccer teams did as well. I had surgery to install a portacath for the chemo, and then another surgery to remove it and my gallbladder later in the spring. I walked for graduation at the School of Liberal Arts but not the university graduation because I was too tired to do both. In other words, life went on.
And throughout those many months of treatments (February through July) of one kind or another, friends dropped off dinner or took the kids to the park. My hubby was truly amazing, listening when I expressed my fears, or holding me while I wept. Carrying on in his usual rock solid way. We all worked as a team to get me through. And when it was all over, we took a vacation to Wisconsin over Christmas to relax together.
The other activity that helped me immensely was writing. I worked on the research for and drafting the stories of the inspiring girls included in Hometown Heroines: True Stories of Bravery, Daring, and Adventure. Those girls also became part of my team with their courage in the face of danger, their creativity in the face of adversity. My proudest moment related to that book was receiving a gold medal last October for Best Gender Specific Young Adult Book by the Children’s Literary Classics organization. Those girls saw me through a very dark time in my life but showed me that there most definitely is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Lessons learned from this ordeal:
- Teach my children everything they needed to know in order to be capable adults as soon as I could since I didn’t know how long I had.
- Never take a day of living for granted.
- Show others how much they mean to me each time I see them.
- Thinking positive helps the healing process.
So with all of that behind me, I’m happy to offer a ray of sunshine to others who either are going through breast cancer themselves or are caring for someone who is. For a few hours, those wonderful people can escape the cares of the moment. Recharge and be prepared for whatever comes next.
Writing books got me through my ordeal, and I hope reading some of my books will help others do the same.
Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts and opinions! I love hearing from my readers!
P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Thanks and happy reading!
Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.