My Personal Thoughts About Breast Cancer 10/21/08

Time for me to admit something about my walking the 60 miles in the Breast Cancer 3-Day walk.  Yes, I walked all 60 miles, that was a promise I made to myself, a challenge to see if I could do this since I was almost 60 years old and not in the best physical shape when I made the decision to walk.

What I did not do was camp.  I am not a camper.  I do not sleep on the ground with Florida critters, not me.  All I had to do was hear the stories about the year before when it poured rain and tents got flooded with water and biting fire ants and I knew I was not camping.

I did camp as a kid.  I was a Girl Scout, I went to summer camp, but I was a kid in Ohio, we did not have biting fire ants in Ohio.  AS a young mother we camped in a tent for one weekend.  That was it, I always said after that my idea of camping is making hotel reservations.

I did hang out at the 3-Day campgrounds.  I ate breakfast in the mess tent every morning with my team, but I left the grounds every night to head for a hotel.  Before you “tsk, tsk” I was not the only one.  I also had to slyly grin when I would hear other walkers say they did not stay for dinner at the campgrounds either, they admitted walking to local restaurants-and yes the Margarita’s were good, they told me.

Larry and I would join my good friend and team walker, Val and her husband, and after showering and feeling better we would meet for dinner and my anesthesia of choice was wine.  I do not advocate drinking alcohol and walking in an event, it is what I chose to do, not what I recommend.  However I happen to know there were wine parties inside the campgrounds also.  I helped smuggle some contraband into my team members both nights.

I know there are some militant walkers who would not be thrilled to read this post. I ran across one of these women in training.  I was sitting at a rest stop changing my socks and taking care of a blister, and one of my team mates mentioned how she and I were staying in a hotel.  This chick looked at me and said “I am camping for the experience.”  I stood up and looked her in the eye and said “I had breast cancer and not for the experience!”  She pissed me off. 

It is all about personal choices in life which is something I have always spoken about when you are faced with a difficult diagnosis also.  Too many of us have found ourselves being treated like one more breast cancer patient and not as (insert your name), a individual woman with breast cancer.

We all have a different way of looking at things but when all the experts in the cancer world spewed out my statistics of survival or recurrence I told my Oncologist that as far as I was concerned there are only two numbers that matter.  I had either a 0% chance or a 100% chance and that is how I prefer to think of it.  I chose to think of myself as an individual, those other statistics were dragging me down, causing me to worry, hanging over my head like a time bomb and I had life to live and things to do.

However, as I wrote yesterday, in my posting about changing doctors if you are not feeling warm and fuzzy about your first choice, you also have the right to be treated individually.  Your questions need to be answered, and your concerns addressed.

I had a woman talk to me the other day about how her radiation treatments had caused burns on her skin, and were extremely painful.  When she would ask to see her physician, he would avoid her.  Don’t be too shocked, this happens.  As an RN I have seen it many times.  There are great physicians who just cannot face treatment related problems.  I suggested she get her nursing team to ask for the wound care department to address this situation, or the burn care department.  Too many times people do not think outside the box.  She was a radiation patient, and her physician thought she should tough it out, he could not think outside the box.  When she told me he would not see her again until her treatment was complete that really made me angry.  However instead of showing my anger, I suggested it might be time to talk to the hospital CEO.  That last thing a hospital CEO wants to hear is a story like her story.

Again we are all individuals, I had radiation therapy and I sailed through my treatments with no problems at all.

I am not anti-physician or anti-treatment.  I am pro-individual patient and you will always find me being the one who champions the underdog.   You have to be your own champion at times, unless you have me in your corner of course, and it takes courage to do this.  I don’t advise addressing a situation with anger, that never gets you anywhere.  I also would advise doing all you can to not cry when addressing your situation, it may be very difficult but remaining calm but stern is going to get you further.  If you can, have a glass of water or ask for one, because stopping to take a sip is a calming moment.

You are in control, you cannot be fired so to speak, your treatment and care has to be given and given appropriately.  You are already the bravest person you know because you are fighting a disease with the determination to win, so go out there and win!

Please if you know someone who could benefit from my postings, get them on board here.  I can also be reached by email and that address is found in my “About” column.

I am always here to encourage anyone along the way.

Blessings today on everyone!

Carole

PS – Second night of the walk – note the wine glass!  Larry is on the right, Val’s husband, Dave is the other handsome man!

Our Walker Stalkers Dave & Larry

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