In 2010, my mammogram indicated that I had cancer in my left breast. An MRI confirmed the diagnosis, and I was referred to a Doctor of Osteopathy, a surgeon, who suggested that I have a bilateral mastectomy, that is, the excision of both breasts, since there was a miniscule indication in my right breast also. I agreed to the surgery.
Post-surgery, I was referred to an Oncologist, a medical specialist who deals with tumors and cancers. He is a very special and dear man; I still see him every six months for blood work. He prescribed a treatment with chemotherapy. It was administered once a week for eight weeks. As everyone knows, chemotherapy makes you very tired, as it really consists of doses of poison in your blood stream. I counteracted this by taking two, sometimes three, short naps each day.
What did I learn from battling cancer?
1) I learned that the medical profession will see to it that you are placed in the hands of the most caring, the most efficient, the most learned, of their members that are available.
2) I learned that it is necessary to follow the doctors' orders in order to get the best results.
3) I learned that a yearly mammogram might just save your life.
4) The most important lesson I learned is that the patient's attitude has everything to do with getting the best results. Fortunately, I had a good attitude. In fact, I never once believed that my diagnosis was a death sentence for me. I have too much to live for, too much to look forward to, ever to give up and die because of an ominous diagnosis. I am reminded of Christmas week that year when I had already lost my hair and was wearing a series of hats until my chemotherapy was completed and my hair would grow back. I was asked to bring up the gifts at Mass at a convent which I frequent. That week, I had worn a Santa Claus hat to celebrate the season. I wore it as I walked up the chapel aisle to present the gifts. I was told by many that it made their day. And that remark made my day also.
5) Now that my hair has grown back and I look like everybody else, I have learned to take very good care of myself. I eat much more nutritionally than I ever did before. I take naps whenever I am tired. I probably feel healthier now than I have ever felt before.
6) I learned to appreciate each day as it comes. I am grateful that I have three children and five grandchildren who make my life such fun and so interesting. I live just for them.
7) I have learned that material goods are incidental. I am able to thwart the desire to accumulate possessions and concentrate on the people in my life as my most treasured possessions.
8) I have always had God in my life, but because I have been given the gift of solitude by living alone, I have learned to sense God constantly at my side.
Durer's Praying Hands
9) I have learned, too, to be kind to others. Everyone has a burden to carry, and we do not know what cross that person may have to bear. Kindness from others goes a long way and can lift someone's spirits on the darkest day.
10) I have always been a lifelong learner. More than ever now, I appreciate learning and have a constant curiosity about life. I read the daily newspaper, I watch television, I play games on my computer, I read a great deal, thanks to my Book Club which meets monthly when we discuss the book of that month. I still love to travel although my arthritis has slowed me down a bit. All right, I will admit it. I still love to go to the Casino.
I am probably at the happiest and most fulfilling time of my life. I have said many times that I hope to live to be 95 years old, but recently I have upgraded that to 100 years.
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