S: Ann's Journey
FC: Ann's Journey with Breast Cancer
1: Dedication For my children - David and Jason - who walked the journey with me-every single day; For friends and family who dared to love, committed to pray and stayed the course all these years; For Mary who held my hand, heard the doctor's words and let me cry; For Teri, Marilyn and the Crazy Girls Club, for the games, jokes and laughter; For the medical profession who offer hope; For the women who have gone before me, paving the way. To all I know, Words do not adequately express my thankfulness for the way in which you have cared for me during this time in my life. Know that you have been thanked in prayer and are loved deeply. February 2010
2: Dear Friends, It was Friday, February 13, 2009, when I went for my mammogram. I had convinced my friend Teri to join me, she had never had a mammogram. I was going to support her, but little did we know that our visit to the boob smasher would change both of our lives - forever. In the lobby was a poster that showed the odds of having breast cancer. I remember reading the poster and being amazed to learn that of those diagnosed with breast cancer, most will have no history of breast cancer in their family. That poster began to prepare me for the diagnosis of Breast Cancer. It had been 16 months since my last mammogram. When I saw the picture of the left breast I knew things had changed. There was a large white spot attached to the nipple. I looked at the tech, knowing she was not supposed to tell me anything, but her eyes said it all. She simply said I should see a specialist as soon as possible...and I did. Monday afternoon, Mary and I went to the surgeon for what we thought would be a simple exam. Instead, he did a biopsy (not sure if Mary's hand has yet recovered from the death squeeze I gave her). We walked out of that appointment knowing I had cancer. A few days later we were back at the surgeon's office to develop the plan: mastectomy, chemotherapy, radiation and then hormone treatment. 364 days later,on February 12, 2010, nearly one year to the day, I was told I am cancer free. Cancer is now a permanent part of my life. I will always live, wondering if 'IT' will return. I know having a friend with cancer is not easy - the worry and desire to not let me see your pain. The journey is ours - yours and mine. Together we fought it and together we celebrate the progress made. My heart overflows with gratitude when I think of you. Thank you for being in my life!
3: March 18, 2009 Some have had the courage to ask (good for you!) how I am doing with losing a breast. I think I am ok, but from what I have read there is a definite grieving that goes on...luckily for me, as you all know, my looks have never been a really big issue for me. | The "new" boob! Very little grieving, just lots of laughs with the prosthesis! it has been massaged, compared for size and even worn at impromptu women's get-togethers; in homes, camping trailers and of course at the beach house.
4: April 23, 2009 As I awake each day with uncomfortable side effects from treatment I realize- good or bad - 'real' life continues on, and so must I. Photos Upper Left - 1st day of chemotherapy Upper Right - Last day of chemotherapy Lower Left - Getting ready for the wig after the head shaving Lower Right - The wig is in place!
5: How do I stay so positive? That is an easy one...MY FAITH! I know God did not give me this disease. I know he does not want me sick. I also know that there will be good that comes from this. February 28, 2009
6: ...and so I lay on my stomach in the noisy Breast MRI tube, a bit scared; thinking of all my friends; giving thanks for our friendships, special memories and the future to come. Thinking of you made the time bearable! March 12, 2009
7: The 'Crazy Girls Club' Kept Me Laughing! Once diagnosed; a mastectomy was needed. Friends designed breast implants for me: toilet plungers painted and suctioned onto a young man's chest! Daily radiation left me glowing, so the Crazy Girls Club, created a "Glow in the Dark" bra. While at radiation treatment, the girls decorated my bedroom to start the, 'Birthday Potty' ....and endless games of Catan
8: Things I have Learned While on This Journey..... Faith makes all the difference. Life isn't fair but it is still good. When overwhelmed, just take the next step. When I cry with someone- I heal faster. It's okay to let your kids see you cry. Nobody is in charge of my happiness except me. God loves me for who I am, not for what I have done or not done. Forgive everyone - everything! !
9: Believe in Miracles! All that really matters is that I loved. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it is a gift. No matter how I feel: get up, get dressed and be present. True friends ask you the hard questions. Asking for and receiving help is not as hard as it seems. Always chose life. Without faith, life is meaningless. Many of these lessons I had heard or read before. However, none were understood as they are today: for I have experienced life in new ways.
10: The ship of my life may or may not be sailing on calm and amiable seas. The challenging days of my existence may or may not be bright and promising. Stormy or sunny days, glorious or lonely nights, I maintain an attitude of gratitude. If I insist on being pessimistic, there is always tomorrow. Today I am blessed. Maya Angelou
11: Losing Hair: Much more Traumatic than Losing a Boob! Chemo had started only two weeks before. The hair started thinning within 10 days. Then by the 12th day, the hair was coming out in clumps. | Friends said don't pull on it, it will stay in longer..ha! Each morning there was more and more hair on my pillow, finally I said it was time for a shave. Thanks to Jason, who picked out a wig for me before I ever started chemo, we had hair to cover the bald head!
12: In February 2010, David wrote: My brother is away at school now, and really seems to be enjoying himself. I still worry that he will become a part of the drugged-out stereotype that San Francisco is so famous for, but it's out of my hands. My mom has finished both chemo and radiation treatments and is currently cancer-free. I still marvel at her determination to not only defeat, but to dominate the disease. I know that she might get cancer again, the statistics are clear on that. I know my brother is not completely healed inside. I don't expect the future to be easy, but I can't worry about that now.... Don't dwell on what is. Stay focused on what's ahead, and have some fun.
13: A Year of New Experiences for Jason... Jason spent the year learning a hard lesson: Life is not always what we want, but it does not mean we stop living. Focused on being ready to go to San Francisco for college, he sought to experience everything from skydiving to visiting the set of 'Private Practice' and doing make-up and costumes for college level theater; all while providing daily love and care to mom.
14: In Honor of Mom Mom, I Loved You For: Living by Faith Loving children and grand-children Giving: to the church, friends, family and community Loving holidays Being strong when the pain was great Trusting people Always Smiling
15: So What is Next? LIFE!! Through hormone therapy, for 8 years, any remaining cancer cells will stay dormant - or so we hope. I live each day knowing the cancer may return, but I also know I could be hit by a car too. I intend to live my life as I always have - full of faith and trust that all that is to be - will be. Has cancer changed me? It certainly has sharpened my perspective on what is important in life! However, cancer did not change my outlook on life. I remain as optimistic as ever that my life, like yours, will be blessed - good and bad - but all for God's purpose. Do I have bad days? You bet, but so do you. Should cancer return, I intend to look at this book for reminders of all that I have endured and all that I have to be grateful for!!
16: The California Central Coast is my retreat spot. The ocean is always changing and beautiful. Walks on the beach, watching butterflies and elephant seals, riding on the sand dunes and of course eating are often on the agenda when visiting. It is all enjoyed the most when friends are with me to share in the peace of the beach! | Grover Beach: Home Away from Home!
17: My Favorite Things To See and Do * Hot Air Balloons * Wildflowers in the Spring * Kites * Sunsets * Roads to Anywhere
18: This passage has provided me great strength throughout the journey.... Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9
19: I AM BLESSED WITH PEOPLE WHO CARE....THANK YOU!! David, Jason, Mary, Scott, Phillip, Christoper, Nicholas, Debi, Linda, Aaron, Shanna, Cal, Wilma, Kent, Teri, Boyd, Joshua, Stephanie, Ashley, Craig, Barbara, Alex, Jessica, Marilyn, Bryan, Talisha, Cody, | Diana, Pat, Chris, Janet, Peggy, Greg, Dalton, Jocelyn, Denise, Kathy, Bob, Jenny, Ronni, Ashley, Katie, Jim, Julia, Jan, Bob, Rose, Ken, Michael, Andrew, Harriet, Al, Melissa, Joe, Wanda, Lori, Art, Ken, Anna, Thom, Sheryl, Karen, Pat, Susan, Darrel, Barbara, Dan, Priscilla, MerriJill, Ferdie, | Lina, Matt, Preston, Jacob, Melissa, Christina, Shirley,Erin, Nate, Melissa, Devin, Susan, Rondi, Bob, Rosalee, Patty, Nancy, Jeff, Gary, Brook, Katie, Amanda,Linda, Chuck, Christina, Niki, Ann, Tom, Michele, Biyll, Taracy, KC, Rheta, Heidi, Brian, Michael, Debbie, Doug, Tova,James,Eerrol, Barbara,Trish | Mark, Barbara, Erin, Danny, Ron, Sue, Lyn, Susan, Kevin, Kim, Karen, Mike, Jana, Lori, Kiley, Arch, Isabelle, Susan, Jim, lena, Maureen, Wendy, Chris, Marilyn, Paul, Uschi, Lillian, Gwyn, Randy, kristin, Cheryl, Chiyoko, Howard, Sonia, Jeff, liz, Cindi, Bnnie, Meg, John, Jeanne, Susie, Pat, Kristy, Fran, Alex, jeff