Archive for the ‘caregivers’ Category

2012 Fall Conference Speaker, Rev. Debra Jarvis: Speaks (part three)

September 26, 2012

On Saturday, September 29th 2012, Living Beyond Breast Cancer will host the Annual Fall Conference at the Loews Philadelphia Hotel. Women from all over the country will join us for presentations on a plethora of topics, ranging  on tops from “Long Term Survivorship” and “Newly Diagnosed,” to “Care for the Caregiver” and “Navigating Health Insurance Claims.”  Today, the LBBC Blog  offer one more installment from Reverend Debra Jarvis, our closing plenary speaker at this year’s event, as she discusses her experience with the “Random Voice Of God.”

A few months ago I took a four-hour trip to a mineral springs to celebrate a friend’s birthday. We all agreed we would not do this again for one weekend.

However all the travel gave us plenty of time to witness the Random Voice Of God (RVOG). Like a “found” poem the RVOG is everywhere. We first encountered it at a toll bridge where we read the sign, PROCEED WHEN CLEAR.

This is good spiritual advice. We noted it accordingly. Don’t proceed without clarity. Just wait. All shall be revealed in the fullness of time. But our culture rewards the quick, the speedy. Decide now! Au contraire, my friends. A wise woman once said to me, “Never make a decision in the presence of the person who is asking the question.”

She didn’t mean at the latte stand or in a restaurant. She meant questions like, “Will you take this job?” “Mastectomy or lumpectomy?” “Can you take my kids one day a week?” Think about it. Sleep on it. Proceed when clear.

One of the pools at this mineral spring accidently got up to 125 degrees and we considered poaching chicken in it. Posted in front of it was another sign from the RVOG: STAY OUT OF HOT WATER.

You would think this would be obvious, but I can’t tell you the number of people we saw who tried to dip their feet in it. What were they thinking? What makes us do things that will so clearly burn us?  Curiosity? Stupidity? A misguided sense of daring or rebellion? Grow up. Stay out of hot water. Life hands you enough hot water without your jumping into it.

That night my friend was handing out pieces of birthday cake. The edge pieces had lots of icing, the middle not so much. So she asked my friend, “What would you like?”

And my friend replied, “I’d like an inner piece.”

“Wouldn’t we all!” I shouted. But it was really the RVOG at the food fest reminding us that an inner peace is desired by everyone.

So I suggest we put it out there to the Universe: I’D LIKE AN INNER PEACE.

My favorite sign of all was posted next to Acacia cemetery on Bothell Way in Seattle. Sometimes we just need a sign from the Random Voice Of God that affirms what we already know, that reassures us by stating the obvious. The sign read: DEAD END.

Well, duh. Thank you anyway.

But hold on! It did make all of us in the car ponder what are the dead ends in our lives? What attitudes, beliefs, behaviors, friends no longer serve us but are holding us back, that are DEAD ENDS?  Where are your dead ends?

So stayed alert.  The RVOG is everywhere. Where have you witnessed it?

Debra Jarvis, “the irreverent reverend with something to say,” is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. She is the author of several books, most recently It’s Not About the Hair: And Other Certainties of Life & Cancer (Sasquatch Books, 2007) which was finalist for the 2009 Washington State Book Awards.  For more information on her work or her writing, visit her website. Visit the LBBC Events page for further registration information on the 2012 Annual Fall Conference.

Tim Miller: A Thank You from Kim

May 28, 2012

Nurses play a critical role after a breast cancer diagnosis.  Did you know that May is Oncology Nursing Month? In recognition of their hard word,  Living Beyond Breast Cancer is featuring stories from our readers in celebration of their oncology nurses. Here an LBBC Volunteer, Tim Miller, shares a very special letter from his wife.

Hi, my name is Timothy Miller. When I first heard that LBBC was honoring oncology nurses this month, I knew that I had to write this blog.  My beautiful wife, Kim, was diagnosed with breast cancer in early 2007 and lost her battle on January 2nd 2011.   My wife loved her doctor, Nancy Lewis, very much; she is the most incredible doctor to our family. But Kim would always talk about how she loved “her girls.” Her oncology nurses were always there for her every need.  A bad day in the hospital can set a cancer patient back for a week. I don’t think oncology nurses get the credit they deserve, because they do it all! From giving meds, to doing inter-personal things, but most of all the compassion they give is incredible.   The last year of Kim’s life was very tough on her and our whole family. From August until the day before thanksgiving, she was in the Jefferson hospital 3rd floor oncology unit—three months is a long time. I had to work and take care of two boys and when I couldn’t make it up there she would say, “Don’t worry, my girls got me! I couldn’t make it without my girls.”

Right before Kim went in the hospital in August, we found out she needed chemo for the first time since her first round when she was diagnosed. We went to a park on her 46th birthday and took family pictures before she lost her hair; it was a very special day for us. The next day, everything went crazy and she was admitted to the hospital for her three month stay.  Kim decided to shave her hair so she would not get upset over every piece that fell out. There was a wonderful oncology nurse named Megan in Jefferson’s oncology unit. That day she had finished her shift but she came to check on Kim. Megan helped us take care of Kim’s hair and stayed with us during that traumatic moment in our lives. When I told my son, Brian, that I was going to write this blog, he said, “Write about that pretty nurse that helped us shave mommy hair.”

I believe that life is about the little moments that come up. This one moment in my family’s lives consisted of a wonderful oncology nurse named Megan who stepped in to our moment and helped us get through it. After Kim passed away, I was going through a few of her things. I found a letter she was writing to the president of Jefferson Hospital about her treatment there, but more importantly, about “her girls” who helped her through the worst time of her life. She loved those girls!  I truly wanted to print her letter for this blog as her final “shout-out” to her girls on the 3rd floor oncology unit at Jefferson hospital—thank you girls from the bottom of my heart.  ~ Tim Miller

Kim and Tim Miller

“To whom it may concern,

 President and CEO of Thomas Jefferson Hospital Administration

Dear Mr. So & So,

I am a fourth stage breast cancer patient in your hospital (August 2010) and I thought I would take the time to write this letter to share my appreciation to you and your staff, right down the line from the kitchen workers to the doctors. Everyone was great. I’ve had cancer for four years now and I went to other hospitals as well, but the treatment at Jeff was outstanding. My nurses made me feel really comfortable and they were so nice and cheerful. Jaclyn, Megan, Eleanor: I think these people deserve stars and should be appreciated for the job well done that they do every day. When you love your job, it shows, and they show it! I was taken down for a few tests, but this one stands out: Rayal* was the tech’s name and from the second he walked up to me he had a big smile, laughing and talking. To me they were like welcoming friends, and that’s what I needed.  He is a great guy who started my day off very good even being in the hospital. I still had good days and bad days, but looking back on my stay at Jeff, I’m not afraid to go back because I know that way I am going to be treated and that’s half the stress right there—knowing I can concentrate on getting well.

Thanks,

Kim Miller”

 

*Exact spelling unavailable

Visit the LBBC website for further information on the importance of your medical team and honor your own oncology nurse by making a donation in his or her name to Living Beyond Breast Cancer.

Julie Clark: Living Is What We Strive For…You Are The Best Medicine

May 16, 2012

Today the LBBC blog would like to reintroduce Julie Clark, one of the women featured in the Faces of Metastatic Breast Cancer video. Julie is the author of a new children’s book, You Are the Best Medicine, providing an inspiring and heartfelt story about honestly sharing your breast cancer journey with your children. Here she offers our readers her moving words in two ways: for you and for the children.

beyond – n. something that lies farther ahead

I think about the words living beyond breast cancer, and I wonder if I am. Living beyond. The implication of those words is that it’s no longer with me – that I’ve left it behind. I envision a long-distance runner on a dry, dusty track, sprinting ahead of the others and leaving only tread marks on the path. In some ways I am that runner. Although diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer in 2008, I am told that there is no longer any evidence of disease in my body. And for that, every day, I am grateful.

But some events in life stay with us always, like it or not.  We do not move beyond being mothers, for example; we do not leave behind the sadness of the death of a loved one. Nor do we want to. Memory makes our lives textured and rich. And much as I have learned to live with the endurance of the long-distance cancer survivor, much as I want to move beyond this beast’s ugly and awful reality, the trick of cancer is its insidious voice whispering “Here I am” and its ability to keep up.

Were you a fighter before you heard the words, “You have cancer”? I didn’t know I was. But the instinct I felt when my daughters were born – that survival/teeth bared/depth of love/kill or be killed instinct – kicked in when I was faced with a disease that could rob me of my family, and I fought back.

Julie Clark is the author of
“You Are The Best Medicine”

I still fight back in a number of ways, every day. Once I learned the disease had left my body, I took exercise a lot more seriously. I ate lots of green things that I hadn’t tasted before, swallowed pills as round and dry as buttons, and gave myself permission to slow down - to breathe.

How can I find the strength to move ahead? I see my family cheering me on, their flags waving and their hands clapping. I look in my daughters’ eyes and I feel they have coached me for this, this powerful strength that blossoms from their hearts and surrounds me with a feeling of triumph. And, I realize, that this is what it means to move beyond. But even more important is the first word in the phrase living beyond breast cancer. It is that which we strive for – that beautiful adjective.

Living – adj. active or thriving; vigorous; strong

A page from “You Are The Best Medicine”

For a child, watching a loved one go through cancer treatment is scary. In this courageous and sensitive book, Julie Clark creates sweet and poignant memories that remind children how important their support is during a time when optimism and love are most needed.


For more information or to order Julie Clark’s book, You Are The Best Medicine, visit the website , “Like” it on Facebook or check it out on Amazon.com.

Alysa Cummings: Writing the Journey Series

May 14, 2012

Breast cancer survivors attending the May 8th session of Living Beyond Breast Cancer‘s Writing the Journey series, accepted a challenge to describe a lesson learned from the breast cancer experience using no more than ten syllables. Next, group facilitator and poetry therapist Alysa Cummings collected the ladies’ individual lines of writing and created an instant group poem.  Do you have another lesson to add?

Lessons from Cancer: An Instant Group Poem

Cancer is the toughest teacher around,

but the lessons learned are invaluable.

The challenge is to thrive within constraints.

Don’t sweat the small stuff – life’s little problems;

sand between your toes, dust on the table.

Live in the moment; it’s all that we have.

Look for many small everyday blessings.

Concentrate on all the good things in life.

(I’m challenged with cancer; I’m blessed with friends).

Help will come from unexpected places.

Fear tail’s on my butt, weighing me down low.

Cancer will not stop me dead in my tracks.

By Alysa, Anne, Carla, Helen, Judy, Lucille, Marcia, Michele, Susan

This inspiring and creative program is coming to a close; however, Living Beyond Breast Cancer plans to host another Writing Series in the Fall. Check back to the LBBC Blog for more insights from Alysa Cummings and future Writing the Journey creations.

Laura Renegar: Oncology Nurses Month – “Cathy”

May 11, 2012

Nurses play a critical role after a breast cancer diagnosis. At Living Beyond Breast Cancer, we have heard many stories over the years about how nurses go above and beyond their jobs making the treatment and recovery experience more manageable for women and their families affected by breast cancer. Did you know that May is Oncology Nursing Month? In recognition of their hard word, LBBC is featuring stories from our readers in celebration of their oncology nurses. Here, Laura Renegar, share a “blast from her past” during chemotherapy.

Just one short year ago I started my chemotherapy treatments for breast cancer. Since I had already had a lumpectomy and a port placed, I walked into chemotherapy with some mental ease – my tumor had already been removed. But I also had a lot of apprehension and fear. I have had many friends that have gone through chemo and as much as they downplayed the side effects, I knew that my path was going to be a little bit different. Even though I was only having 4 treatments, my dosage was high and I was worried. We were hitting any remaining or lingering cells “hard and fast” according to my oncologist.

On that dreadful Tuesday, I walked into the chemotherapy room and met my nurse, Cathy. She was small and compact and cute as a button. She went over all of the medications, the routines, the things to watch for, and the possibilities of “issues.”  As the chemo was dripping into my body, I watched Cathy go from one patient to another, always calm, direct, and professional. I kept having this gnawing feeling that I knew her from someplace but I couldn’t remember where. My Benadryl buzz came and went, the hours of the chemo drip going into my body came and went, then it was time to have some fluids, flush my port, and I was done. No horrific episodes, no heart flutters, no nausea, no fainting, no pain, nothing. I was good. My first chemo was over and Cathy said my body responded well and that I tolerated the chemo beautifully.  My mind continued to navigate through the “old files” of where I could have possibly met Cathy before but came up empty handed.  I went back for my Neulasta shot the next day and still could not place how I knew this woman.  As the days wore on my chemo side effects came and went but my mind continued searching for facts on Cathy. It took about a week, but I finally realized how I knew her! I had actually gone on some double dates with Cathy when she dated one of my male friends. She and the man I was dating at the time mixed like oil and vinegar and none of us really wanted to figure out why. They clearly disliked each other so the double dating stopped. Several months later she and my friend parted ways and that was about eight years ago.  I verified with my friend that this was the same Cathy he had dated and then I began to worry about those uncomfortable double dates many years ago.

“Was I nice to Cathy during those times?”

“Was I rude to her when she broke up with my friend?”

“Did I stick up for the man I was dating—the one she couldn’t stand—and was I ugly to her way back then?”

The thoughts rambled through my mind and I really began to realize how your past can sometimes come back to haunt you.  Over the next two weeks, I rattled my brain but could not remember how Cathy and I got along back then – and now she was my chemo nurse. Good grief, really?

It was time for my second chemo treatment and I was a little worried because I knew my friend had probably contacted Cathy to see if she remembered me. Sure enough, he did, and she remembered. As soon as I walked into the chemo room, Cathy walked over to me, wrapped her arms around me and told me how glad she was to see me again and that although she hadn’t recognized me during the last treatment, she certainly remembered me.  What could have been an awkward exchange turned into a warm and friendly moment. We chatted about our mutual friend, the past, our kids, and our lives.

For the rest of my chemo treatments Cathy was nothing but kind to me. She handled me with dignity and grace, and I could not have been more thankful that—not only was my chemo nurse kind, efficient, diligent, and caring – but that my chemo nurse was Cathy.

After chemotherapy was over, I had one port flush and I didn’t know that it was to be my final goodbye to Cathy. She told me that she was going to work for a larger oncology clinic and that she wouldn’t be there to see me during my quarterly cancer check-ups. Cathy knew that in a few weeks I was having a bi-lateral mastectomy and we both said goodbye and good luck with tears in our eyes as we parted much closer friends than we were four months earlier.

I will never forget how Cathy treated me during my chemo treatments and I can still only hope I was half as kind to her, eight years ago. Cathy treated me like an old friend – because that is what we were after all. We just needed a little bit of chemotherapy to remind us.

Visit the LBBC website for further information on the importance of your medical team and honor your own oncology nurse by making a donation in his or her name to Living Beyond Breast Cancer.

Jackie Roth: To Honor Our Mothers

May 7, 2012

In honor of Mother’s Day, Living Beyond Breast Cancer welcomes back to two bloggers who wrote for us throughout the entirety of their treatment. In this particular entry, Jackie Roth shares what Mother’s Day means to her as a woman living beyond breast cancer.

There are so many ways that we can choose to honor our mothers, wives, sisters and friends who have been diagnosed with breast cancer during the month of May.  Some people choose to do a walk, race, or large event together, while others choose things like dinners, cards, and just spending time together.  Unfortunately, I do not have these options to celebrate with my mom.  I cannot send my mom flowers, a card, or a gift.  I cannot take her to dinner or spend a day doing one of our favorite activities, which was shopping.  I cannot have her join me as I partake in the breast cancer awareness events during the month of May.I lost my mom almost seven years ago to colon cancer.  She was diagnosed at the age of 48 with Stage IV disease, and passed away at the age of 49, just six short months after being diagnosed.  She fought as long and as hard as she could, yet the odds were stacked so heavily against her.

Little Jackie and her mother

It has been so difficult getting through my cancer treatments without her. Mothers have a magical touch that can sometimes just make everything better, even if that thing is your own cancer.  I know that somehow she could make it all go away.  Although she was not here to hold my hand during chemo or take care of me after my multiple surgeries, I know that she was watching from above and protecting me along each step of my cancer journey.

So, the way that I will honor my mom this mother’s day is by surviving.  Continuing to get up and face the day no matter how sick my cancer treatments have made me feel.  I will spread the word about cancer and continue to work in my job as a cancer researcher.  My mom was not given much of a chance to survive, so I am doing it for her…for us.  I am almost two years out from my diagnosis, and I am preparing for my final reconstructive surgery next week.  This surgery represents a closing of the cancer chapter in my life and a chance to move on.

There are still quite a few days before I can think about becoming a mother myself.  My husband and I will not be able to have children for another 5 years or so due to my medications.  Ron and I do not know if we will face any challenges when trying to start a family because of all of the chemotherapy that I had.  But that is a challenge that is far off in the future and we both have hope that things will work out just the way they are supposed to for us.

It is wonderful to have so many events surrounding Mother’s day to show the women in our lives how much we care.  After I recover from my surgery, I will be celebrating with my grandmothers, mother-in-law, step-mother, sister, and friends.  My experience has shown that things can change quickly, so you should take each opportunity to honor your mothers and other survivors as if every day was Mother’s day.

How are you honoring the women in your life this Mother’s Day? Visit our website, here,  to make a donation to Living Beyond Breast Cancer in HONOR of the “mothers” in your life.

Pat Biedermann: Living Harmoniously with Stage IV Cancer – The REAL final installment of a Multi-Series

April 25, 2012

On April 28th and 29th, 2012, Living Beyond Breast Cancer will host its Sixth Annual Conference for Women Living with Metastatic Breast Cancer. In preparation for that event along with our video blog series, we introduced Pat Biedermann, an  LBBC  Helpline volunteer who happens to be living with metastatic breast cancer. In this multi-series, Pat will share with you–not only her story–but her “tricks and tips” on how to live (and live well) with the disease.

Here are some of the things I do to change the way I handle stress take control of my life:

Avoid internalizing the stress of others

I have learned to adjust my reactions in response to someone else’s actions: if a client (or even family member) is ranting and venting, I have learned to try and view it as just that. There is no need for me to internalize that rage and allow it to eat me up. This too will pass. I remind myself that it is not necessarily me that they are upset at, but someone or something else.

Take care of myself

I’ve learned the importance of taking time to care for myself, because if I don’t, then no one else can. Just enjoying a hot bath or a quiet walk helps keep me centered, focused, mindful. I find, in particular, that a hot bath with baking soda and sea salt is not only relaxing, but in my case, is also detoxifying.

These may be small measures, but they sometimes can have a big effect.   I have also tried to stop watching violent TV shows and movies and have opted, instead, for a show that will make me laugh. There’s enough drama already in life all day long – who really needs more from TV and reality shows?   Although I still love reading my trashy romance novels, I thoroughly enjoy reading books that now have meaning to me.

This brings me to the final element of change which helps me live harmoniously with my stage IV cancer. I can sum it up by simply saying that I took control of my life, but –as you will see—that included changes that were anything but “simple.” I am a drastically different person today than before my diagnosis. Not everything I do would appeal to everyone; maybe none of it will. I simply implore you to find something that works for you.

These are the many steps I took to take control of my life:

Honor my body

It was right about this time I realized that in order for my life to continue, I needed to make major life changes. I had taken up walking with both the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer and the Susan G. Komen 3-day Walk. Once I did both walks in the same year. Between these events and training for them, I did a lot of walking. Two months after a walk, I had another recurrence. After that, I decided it was time to hang up my long-distance sneakers and honor my body.  As much as I wanted to contribute to a wonderful cause, I also knew I was doing great trauma to myself. I learned from this that I must put my body’s needs first.

Eat well

Nutrition is another simple avenue where I can exercise control over my life. I now believe that most processed food out there will eventually make us sick.  I have come to realize most of my shopping should be done on the perimeter of the market.  As a result of Dr. Gonzalez, I juice every morning.  Every day I vary the ingredients, but they are all full of life -enhancing vitamins and antioxidants.  My family may raise their eyebrows and turn up their noses, but so be it.  I have also discovered that I would much rather cook a nutritious meal at home than go out to eat. Never in my long career would I have said that I enjoyed cooking. Eating out was always first choice. Now I relish the time and the results.

Because my cancer is estrogen-driven, the majority of my foods are organic. The pesticides used in conventionally grown fruits and vegetables create issues with estrogen and could possibly promote tumor growth. I realize the cost of buying organic can be prohibitive. If cost is a factor, then a list of the top contaminated fruits and vegetables is readily available, as well as the least contaminated. I avoid all meats, including chicken and turkey. I do enjoy eggs (poached is my preference), yogurt, fish, and lots of nuts, grains, almond butter, and other good sources of protein. The benefit of this type of protein is that it doesn’t acidify the body the way meats do.

Seek out uplifting people

This is Pat

Having been a single mother for many years, as well as a workaholic, I confess I never took the time to cultivate deep friendships. One of the changes I made in my life is to seek out and cultivate healthy friendships.  Now, I consciously attempt to re-connect with old friends and forge bonds with new ones. The one trait shared by all the people I choose to spend time with is this: they all inspire me in some way. When I leave them, I feel buoyant and hopeful and renewed. If I cannot avoid being around pessimistic “downers,” then I find I call upon my mindful-based stress relief techniques so that I do not internalize their negative feelings.  I have a wonderful group of friends today. Don’t get me wrong. My family is there for me, too. But families worry about their wife/daughter/sister/mother, and I find myself sometimes censoring what I say to them. With my friends, I can express exactly how I am feeling.

Is there such a thing as a healthy Stage IV cancer survivor? Who knows? Whatever the outcome, my lifestyle is a way I can feel good about what I am going through.

Once again, we here at LBBC would like to thank Pat for sharing her story.

Pat enjoy walks out in nature, reading and spending time with family and friends. Visit our website for more information on the Conference for Women Living with Metastatic Breast Cancer and to Register for the April event. Additional resources can be found through LBBC’s Understanding Guides: Metastatic Breast Cancer Series.  Later this year, LBBC will produce a guide for women newly diagnosed with metastatic cancer.

Video Blog Series: Advocacy in Action on Metastatic Breast Cancer – Part One

April 2, 2012

On April 28th and 29th, 2012, Living Beyond Breast Cancer will host its Sixth Annual Conference for Women Living with Metastatic Breast Cancer which is a one-of-a-kind educational program designed for women living with metastatic disease, caregivers and healthcare providers. During the four weeks before the event, the LBBC blog will feature a series of short videos featuring our own Elyse Spatz Caplan, Director of Programs and Partnerships,  with Advocacy in Action discussing the needs of women living with metastatic breast cancer.


This first video tackles the initial reaction to learning about metastatic breast cancer and the relevance of clinical trials.

Elyse Spatz Caplan, MA, Director, Programs and Partnerships

Video Link: Metastatic Breast Cancer Discussion – Part One

~

Visit our website for more information on the Conference for Women Living with Metastatic Breast Cancer and to Register for the April event. Additional resources can be found through LBBC’s Understanding Guides: Metastatic Breast Cancer Series.  Later this year, LBBC will produce a guide for women newly diagnosed with advanced disease.

A Daughter’s Breast Cancer Journey; Through Her Mother’s Eyes: Part 3 of 3

January 31, 2012

This entry was written by Nancy Amorosi. Many of you may remember Jaime Rossano, one of the year-long series bloggers who, in a raw and honest tone, shared her breast cancer journey from diagnosis to post treatment in 2011. In this entry, her mother gives us her perspective of the journey. Over the year, she tried desperately to hide her true feelings of fear that consumed her heart facing the reality that she could never handle the idea of losing her baby girl.

This concludes the  three-week series A Daughter’s Breast Cancer Journey; Through Her Mother’s Eyes

Read Jaime’s blogs by searching “Jaime Rossano” in the search box on this site.

Although a year has gone by and the days are no longer filled with constant appointments and treatments the ongoing reconstruction of her physical being and the rebuilding of her self image continues. Looking back over this past year brings back so many emotions. It was with the help of some very special friends and family that gave me the positive energy and strength to be strong and hold it together when I thought I could not make it through another day. My daughter became my inspiration. No mother should have to worry about losing her child. But, the reality is that this monster called “cancer” has no boundaries. We have learned that LIFE IS A GIFT~

Jaime has taken this experience and has made it her life’s work to spread the word of self breast exam to college students, to support and encourage others diagnosed with cancer, to share her heart with blogging her experience with LBBC, and starting a very special project called Cancer’s Secret Angels which provides beautiful baskets of goodies to newly diagnosed patients and sharing her story of hope to all who will listen. As her mom I could not be more proud of the way she traveled this journey.

My daughter Jaime is my hero and I am honored and privileged to walk beside her today, tomorrow and always!

I love you Sweet Pea

Jamie & Nancy

A Daughter’s Breast Cancer Journey: Through Her Mother’s Eyes: Part 2 of 3

January 24, 2012

This entry was written by Nancy Amorosi. Many of you may remember Jaime Rossano, one of the year-long series bloggers who, in a raw and honest tone, shared her breast cancer journey from diagnosis to post treatment in 2011. In this entry, her mother gives us her perspective of the journey. Over the year, she tried desperately to hide her true feelings of fear that consumed her heart facing the reality that she could never handle the idea of losing her baby girl.

Every Tuesday for the rest of this month, join Nancy as she recaps her daughter’s breast cancer diagnosis in a 3-week series.

Read Jaime’s blogs by searching “Jaime Rossano” in the search box on this site.

This year Jaime is getting adjusted to not having a blog deadline, having completed her year-long series in December of 2011. But the start of the 2011 New Year introduced us to chemotherapy and the words of one kind nurse that did not come true – “Oh Jaime, you are so young this will be a piece of cake”. So the infusions began. Within hours the color would drain from her face, the nausea would creep in and by evening and the days to follow she was sick, suffering headaches, bone pain, body aches, nausea and worst of all she lost her smile. My heart was in so much pain. I felt so incredibly helpless and could not bear to see our little girl suffer so much. I gave her a small red heart locket with little Ronnie’s picture inside. And when the light began to fade from her eyes I would whisper to her to look into her baby boy’s eyes and draw strength and courage to fight. I admit there were days for me too when darkness overshadowed the light and I would hold my grandson and almost magically felt a new sense of hope. Sure enough with each passing day the symptoms would fade and her smile would re-emerge giving us all a renewed sense of hope. Only to repeat this cycle again and again and again and again and again and again.

Within weeks of starting chemo the hair clippers buzzed and her locks fell to the floor. She could not bear to watch her hair fall out strand by strand so she took control and beat the monster called “cancer” to the punch. She wore a beautiful colorful bandana each and every day. We spent chemo days side by side and the five or six “sick” days to follow were filled with emotion, sadness, fear, laughter, anger, frustration, and emotional exhaustion. Our lives had developed a new “routine”. Seems silly but we actually got good at the routine of chemo week. But, they were also the most difficult, emotional and exhausting for both of us in very different ways. Somehow we found humor among the chaos. Days led to weeks and weeks led to months and before long chemo was done. The amazing strength, courage and determination in our daughter’s eyes week after week continued to give me hope.

Radiation therapy followed week after week and despite feeling tired and weak her resilience prevailed. She maintained her motto; be strong, be fierce, be ME! As time passed positive changes emerged. The importance of love, life and family took hold. No longer sweating the small stuff, living each day and not allowing the “what if” of tomorrow to ruin today became a new way of life.


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