Editors note: We’ve written about my sister Kathy, a breast cancer survivor and all around impressive woman, more than a dozen times on this blog. Today, she’s writing a post of her own…
As Breast Cancer Awareness month ends, I realize that my own cancer story began at an October Packer game when, after the players were introduced in their pink shoes, socks and towels, my then-boyfriend Keith nudged me and asked when I was going to schedule my first mammogram. Six months after our wedding, I was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer and we started an intense journey that included a double mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation. We didn’t do this alone. It’s been 22 months since my diagnosis and some of these thank yous are long overdue.
Thank you to…
Keith – for holding my hand and making me smile, for managing my drains and organizing my pills, for helping me dress and tying my shoes, and for keeping me quarantined when my blood counts dropped. For remaining calm through every appointment and surgery.
Mom – for our early morning breakfasts when I first got home, for taking me wig shopping, for arranging my last chemo party, and for planning an unbelievable trip this summer to celebrate my recovery.
Traveain – for our daily walks, your constant concern, and your kind, thoughtful personality.
My siblings, in-laws, nieces and nephews – for the delicious meals, the funny phone calls, the planting parties, the surprise visits (and surprise parties), for finding the right lotion for my really dry skin, and for continuing to tease me like you have the past 40 years.
Aunts, uncles, cousins – for the fresh fruit, the gift bag filled with things Grandma Jay would have sent, and the wine.
Bert – for being the only hairdresser I know who makes house calls, for knowing that a week after major surgery a girl needs to wash her hair! (Special shout out to my mom for setting up this surprise!) Thank you also for quietly shaving my hair when I knew it was time.
Dr. Patrick McWey – for following your gut and ordering the MRI that highlighted a hidden tumor and cancerous lymph nodes.
Dr. Tony Phillips – for writing a lengthy response to an email I sent detailing all of my mom and sister’s concerns. Your confirmation of my treatment plan was invaluable.
Drs. Henry, Yousif, Shah, Shultz and Resnick – for explaining everything to me in language I understood and for making room for me on your schedule every time I called.
My nurses – for making me laugh while you infused my Adriamycin and letting me sleep after it kicked in. For warming my Neulasta shots so they hurt less and bringing me saltines when I was hungry. It takes a special person to work with people undergoing chemotherapy.
College roommates – for the visits, the calls and emails and the patio plants, for arranging our game day reunion. Squeezing the five of us into four seats at Camp Randall brought back great memories!
Molly McConeghy Hubbell – for contacting me as soon as you heard about my diagnosis. Your advice to someone you barely knew was so helpful. You taught me the value in paying it forward to others who join our club.
Friends – for the hot tea, the good books, cards and emails. For starting a friendly, daily trivia game that is on-going and now filled with name calling and accusations of cheating.
Students and staff in Menomonee Falls – for your overwhelming response. For the cards, the food, the flowers, and support when I returned. For not caring that I was wearing a wig and had no eyebrows or lashes and for cheering me the day I left the wig at home and showed up with much shorter and darker hair.
We all joined Kathy when she was the honorary survivor at the Menomonee Falls Relay for Life earlier this year.
They bonded in college and still have each other’s backs.