03 August 2010

A year ago today...

pink ribbon
Bob and I were sitting in a doctor's office hearing the words, "Terri, you have breast cancer."

I still can't wrap my mind around it, even though I have had a partial mastectomy and lymph node dissection, which lead to a double mastectomy and lymph node removal, hysterectomy, breast reconstruction, 46 doctor's visits, 30 blood tests, more pain pills than I can count, and six months (so far) of Arimidex.  I was so blessed not to have had to go through chemotherapy or radiation.

I always believe that we go through these "lemons" for a specific purpose... and for me, I think I paved the way for Ashley when she was diagnosed with Crohn's.  I hope I helped her to be strong and to know that she is made of strong stuff.  Her ordeal was so much worse than mine, in so many ways.

I also learned how many friends I have and how much they love me!  My school was amazing as well as Bob's school, Lewis and Clark.  These people sent their love to us in the form of cards, flowers, food, gift cards, pictures and hugs.  We were never without hugs!  Special parents were there to support me, Rae Ann and Alicia were always there to help me with information and hugs and gifts.  Can't imagine how I would have survived school without them!

Lewis and Clark held a walk in my honor.  FOR ME.  The Student Council was totally awesome.  One of Bob's teacher's ran the entire length wearing a pink ribbon, in honor of me.  Both schools had pink ribbon days and my school gave me a going away assembly when I left before my second surgery.  One of my teachers did the Susan Korman Breast Cancer Walk in St. Louis and walked in my name.

Friends came to visit, to bring journals, advice, hugs, company and love to me.  I have never felt more supported. My great neighbor Susan always knew when to bring brownies.  I knew I wasn't going through this alone.

Two dear friends, Jenny and Myra, used their talents to make me something.  Jenny made me one of her Zippy Strippy Quilts (we all fight over it) and Myra quilted me a prayer shawl made with the most beautiful pink breast cancer fabric.  I took one to each of my surgeries with me.  All the nurses said they could tell I was well loved! 

Blog friends helped me by encouraging me to write and to keep track of my thoughts and feelings.  Special thanks goes out to Suzy, Barb, Judy, Kristen, and Kat.  My GLU friends, especially Tammy,  and GF friends were absolutely the most supportive people, even now.  I love you all.

I also met new friends, people who didn't know me at first, but who kept in touch through the phone or email and even met me for lunch.  Much love to Shay, Sharon, Gayle and Marcia.  

Naught Naught Insurance Agency sponsored me in their annual Relay for Life booth.  They raised lots of money, in the thousands.  Amazing.

My close friends never let me get feeling sorry for myself!  Linda, Barb, Charlotte, Karlene, Ashley, Carol, Sarah, Marsha, Tambra and Joey sent cards, flowers, emails, phone calls, ad whatever it took to make sure that I knew I was "just Terri without boobs."

My BUNCO group was simply amazing.  At the game before my surgery, they all wore Tshirts that said SAVE THE HOOTERS.  My friend Ashley has that photo on her Facebook profile.  Charlotte was the organizer for many activities, gifts, pick me ups and was the constant connection between me and the gang.  I love them all.

My family was incredible.  My mom, my sister, Tammi, my sister in law Joy, and my daughter Ashley were amazing.  They all helped take care of me immediately after surgery.  All of them worked with the bandages and drain tubes at least once! 

Most wonderful, is my husband Bob.  He never once complained, did all the housework, did all the cooking, wore all the T shirts (even the pink ones!), watched the drain tubes get yanked out and watched me have a hysterical laughing fit over it.  He's probably got stories to tell that I haven't even heard yet!

I was so fortunate to have wonderful doctors.  Dr. Roberts, my surgeon,  Dr. Kiekhaefer, my family practice doctor, Dr. Howard, my plastic surgeon, Dr. Schmidt, my anthesthesiologist, Dr. Ferris, my gynocologist, and all their staff made me feel safe and in good hands each time I had surgery.  I was lucky to be served in both Capital Region and St. Mary's.  We have such great hospitals in our city!!

I have so many gifts and cards and well wishes.  So many emails and Facebook comments that I have saved.  Still coming:  my cousin Mike and his wife Christy are walking in the Atlanta Susan Korman Breast Cancer Walk in my honor in October (I think) and my one year anniversary of being cancer free: October 29.

I also received many blessings from my doctorate cohort group.  I had my mastectomies right after my first class and had to miss my second class.  Suzy, Greg, Della, and Armand were instrumental in keeping me focused by their dedication to the work.  I could have found it very easy to slip into a "I can't do this" phase but with the help of these colleagues, I stayed driven to complete my doctorate on time!

This is inadequate but my heart is full and I will always be grateful knowing how much I was loved while I was still alive to appreciate it!

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  1. Such a beautiful way to mark the day. I am thrilled for the progress you have made this year and cannot get over how gracefully you did it.


    Becky K.

  2. What wonderful gifts in all forms came from such a tragic event. You are so blessed and I can just feel your gratitude and energy through your post. You are an amazing woman!

    I came by your blog to introduce myself. My name is Sherry and I am a new Bloggerette Sorority Sister. I have only been blogging for 3 weeks so I missed the rush, but I look forward in joining in on the events to come. I would be honored if you came by for a visit at http://scrappingwithsherry1.blogspot.com/ Hope to see you there!

    Take Care~ Sherry

  3. Wow - what an amazing journey you've had in the past year...as you said, sometimes we don't choose the path of our journey, but once we're on that path, it's up to us to make the most of it, which it sounds like you did. Blessings and prayers to you! :)

  4. I can hardly post a comment here, Terri. I can't believe it's been a year. I remember it so clearly but it seemed like just a few months ago.

    You are amazing.

    Gracious, kind, loving, brave.

    Aren't we all blessed to know you?


  5. Terri - What a beautiful post. I'm sitting here in tears of joy. I also know what it is like to sit in that room and be told you have cancer - my 1 year anniversary will be Nov 17th. And I agree so much that the outpouring of caring from friends and people I didn't realize were friends was the best part of my whole ordeal - from surgery to radiation. Thank you for stopping by yesterday. Blessings.

  6. Your post is absolutely beautiful...just like you.

  7. What an incredible road you've been on this past year. I'm so glad that it is behind you. Without a doubt, you have some amazing friends! In a year, Ashley will be looking back and thinking the same things. God bless you all!

  8. Hi! saw your name of your blog, wanted to visit. your post was very heartwarming as you shared about the cancer. I believe out of something terrible, we can help another. you indicated this in your post. sounds like you have had alot of support to help you go in this direction. God Bless Rose http://somewondersoflife.blogspot.com/

  9. What a beautiful post...thanks for sharing. You have such an amazing friends and family...Pat H

  10. Oh sweet friend! This post gave me sweet chills. As a survivor, I certainly know beyond a shadow of a doubt how much each and every thing means to us that others say and do. Every.little.thing! And not just for us, but for our husbands and children too. All of our family, actually.

    It's so hard to believe that a year has gone by.

    You have been incredible. You ARE incredible! An inspiration.

    Great post.


  11. Oh dear, I've missed so much. Hope you are much, much better. You have certainly expanded our writings over time. xx Alexandra

  12. wow, you don't know me, but I want you to know that you are amazing! God Bless.

    Cheryl M.

  13. No, haven't been through MO. Have been flying each time I go home. Just got back night before last after spending time with parents and kids. It's so nice to be back, not only back home, but back here. I've missed it, but had to shut down for a while. So, SO good to hear from you!!!!!

  14. Terri, I was "computerless" at the time you wrote this wonderful post. I recall that I hadn't "known" you too long when you received your diagnosis. I was amazed at how you handled your health journey.....with so much courage and strength and with a huge amount of humor. Yes, you did do have a HUGE village of friends to give you support. . . and what a tremendous blessing that is for you and your family! I am so happy you have marched though so many surgeries and doc's visits, etc. .... cuz that's what ya have to do to beat that old C at his game!! You're such an inspiration to all of us who just might be dealing with a similar issue in our own future. Thanks for sharing this with us!! L, Dana

  15. I am so glad you had such incredible support from friends while you were going through this tough time. So glad you are cancer free now!


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