Always on the Sunny Side
"Keep on the sunny side, always on the sunny side.
Keep on the sunny side of life..." ~Ada Blenkhorn
In the three-and-a-half weeks since Dr. El-Eid told me I had breast cancer, the thought has rarely left my mind. I wager that most people diagnosed with any cancer go through the same thing. It got worse last week when the oncologist told me I needed to have chemotherapy to make sure they knocked the monster completely out of my system.
People tell me that I'm brave, that I'm strong, that I can do this. I appreciate the support more than I can ever express, and I know that they are right. Further, I know how lucky I am that the devil that attacked Ethel was stage 1a and had not spread. There are so many women and men facing a more difficult diagnosis than I; I realize that. Never once have I asked, Why me? Why not me? One in eight women joins the BC club; I just happen to be one. I do thank God for sparing me from a more difficult challenge.
Yet, it is difficult not to consider one's mortality when cancer enters the picture. It's a struggle that we—patient, family, friends—face by putting the positive vibes out there. Positivity is not going to defeat the cancer, sure, but the power of positive thinking, the positive attitude, is one of the best ways to get past the difficult days more easily. It is the way to give us all hope for the future.
The shock of learning I need chemo has gone down, and I'm trying to decide where I should have my treatments. I think very highly of Dr. El-Eid, my down-to-earth, straight-to-the-point yet compassionate surgeon in Las Vegas. I obviously was not wild about the radiation and medical oncologists. While I have not met with doctors at Moffitt yet, they have already impressed me.
MOFFITT CANCER CENTER
Moffitt is one of the top 10 cancer centers and one of the top five of breast cancer centers in the United States. In addition to being on the forefront of cancer research, Moffitt is one of only 47 National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers (There are not any in Nevada) and offers state-of-the-art treatment.
Two weeks ago, I filled out a contact form online, and within 15 minutes of my sending it in, a Moffitt representative called me. They have already assigned me to a medical oncologist (who specializes in breast cancer, by the way) and made an appointment for me in August. After that less-than-stellar appointment with the oncologist (general) here last week, I decided sent an email to Dr. Loftus in Tampa to see if she could give me advice.
"I know that you don't know me from Adam," I wrote, "and I realize you do not yet have my charts, but I am hoping you can help me decide what to do." I told her I was trying to figure out whether I should start chemo here and complete it and radiation there, whether I should do both chemo and radiation under her care, whether I should do both here, or whether where I had any of it done mattered at all.
By the time I woke up the next morning, I already had an answer (and I'm still waiting for a return phone call from March that I made to a doctor here). Long story short: Once she receives my charts, we'll have a teleconference later this week to discuss the best options. Is there any wonder why I'm considering just doing it all there?
THE POSITIVE SIDE
Positive thinking alone won't cure anything, least of all cancer. It does, however, stagger through difficult times. All of this helps me realize how precious life really is. Life can turn on a dime, yes, but even when that happens, there are positives to consider.
The people in your life are important. I have said this before, and I'll say it again: I thank God for the support and friendship and love so many people have shown me. Without it, this journey would be more difficult.
The chemo will get rid of any little cancer cells that might still be hiding in Ethel (or Lucy). That's a big plus. Get those suckers out.
Chances are I will lose my hair, which is not the most appealing side effect to me. On the other hand, though, I won't have to fight with this baby-fine, straight thread for a few months. I'll get a wig or two, and you can be sure I'll buy a pink wig. Yes, I have been looking, and there are a few great pink wigs out there (including the one to the right). And, the best part of this is that I won't have to strip my own hair to dye it pink. I can be pink one day and ginger another.
One of my friends told me that a good side effect of the chemo was that her allergies disappeared for a time. I can take not suffering from allergies even if it's for a few months.
Bottom line, the most positive outcome is that I will beat this, and I will be healthy again...and I'll do it with pink hair.