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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Terri Steffes
Terri Steffes

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