Saturday, May 18, 2013

A Story of Suvival, Part 3: The Victory!

This is the 3rd, and final, part of my mom's Story of Survival.
If you have not yet read the first two parts, or you'd just like to catch up, click the following links:

Linda and Bill left on a Monday morning in October 2005, flew to Santa Monica, and saw Dr. Bilchik the nextTuesday .
"We saw his colleague first, and he just about passed out when he saw the condition on the hole in the side of my breast.  You could actually sit a tennis ball right down in it.  When Dr. Bilchik came in, he said that he could just bring tissue over from one area to help close up the gap...We went into surgery on Wednesday.  I was up and about on Thursday.  While there, they took tissue and had it analyzed at the Weisenthal Institute to see what chemo drug would work at killing the cancer cells.  I found out the chemo drug they were giving me at CCNW did absolutely nothing to kill any of the cells.  They were just using the drug that statistics said would work without even finding out which actually did.  Makes you wonder how many other medical treatments are utilized using the same method...guesswork?  I had a visit from the physical therapist on Thursday and she was amazed at how well I was and that there was nothing she could offer me.  She told me that in all her years she has never seen anyone doing as well as me following this kind of surgery.  They had to release me from the hospital on Friday because I was doing too well!  We flew home on Sunday and I was back to work on Monday."
Linda flew back to Santa Monica one month later and had the stitches taken out.  Dr. Bilchik told her he had never seen anyone in the condition she was in, end up recovering as fast as she did.  She was one for the record books!
 
Linda recalls a very memorable appointment on March 31, 2011:
"I was sitting in the doctor's office at CCNW as he was looking over my foot-high files on his desk.  He closed the files, turned to me, and said 'The only reason you are still alive is because you never did anything we told you to do!'  I couldn't believe what I was hearing...but with a lot of prayer, love and stubbornness, I survived an ordeal of a lifetime!"
I asked my mom how she is changed by surviving such an ordeal.  I think there might be many people who could benefit from reading her response:
"People think I'm crazy when I say that cancer was the best thing that ever happened to me.  I had held so much bitterness and unforgiveness in my heart and it was actually poisoning me to death.  I put on a happy face sometimes, but most of the time I was a very bitter person.  Cancer made me take a deep look inside and make decisions on what was really important to me and my life.  Not a single sleepless night hating people who had treated me so badly growing up, and all the "why me's", could take away the pain. I'm sure the person/people who did me wrong never lost a night of sleep over what they did to me. 
The one thing I've learned over these past years is I'm stronger than I think I am.  I dug  in with every ounce of strength I could muster.  As I was listening to worship music one morning sitting in my dad's chair I inherited after he passed away, I just started crying and I couldn't stop.  It was like a faucet was turned on fully and I cried.  I asked God to take the pain of my past away and help me to forgive and forget.  I fell asleep, and when I woke up, it was as if I was a new person from the inside out.  From that moment on, even if I tried to think about bad people and events from my past, it just doesn't have the sting anymore.  It was taken away that day and has never returned to me.   
My heart is so full of joy now and because of this and I don't regret or feel bad about the journey I've been on.  It brought me to this place, where I can honestly say I am now a happy person.  I always said I couldn't die yet, as I had graduations, weddings, and grandbabies' births to be around for.  I had so much life yet to live.  I can honestly say I was given a second chance at life and I don't take one single day for granted! I love my life and my family which now includes son-in-laws, grandbabies, and new hobbies."
Is there a quote or scripture than helped you through those years?
"Faith is to believe what we do not see, and the reward of this faith is to see what we believe." - St. Augustine. The more I was told how bad I was and how little hope there was of me surviving this disease, the more I would focus on this quote. 
What advice do you have for people who also may have been given that dreaded cancer diagnosis?
"People going through similar situations ask me all the time to help them after being diagnosed; they want to know what I did.  As you can tell from my story, what I did wasn't as black and white as most people would think.  Even with as much as I do remember, I'm sure there are little detours I took that I just don't remember anymore.   
My advice is to never give up.  As long as there is breath, there is always hope!  Try everything and anything as long as you are doing what you feel is what you should be doing.  If you feel uncomfortable, maybe try something else.  Being a mom has been the greatest joy of my life, and knowing the possibility of not being around for those special moments yet to happen kept my love, faith and hope alive." 
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Thank you for taking the time to read my mom Linda's Story of Survival.  I am thankful for her honesty and bravery, but thankful doesn't even begin to describe how I feel about the fact that she is alive to share.  Since March 31, 2011, one test after another has revealed that my mom is not only alive, but well!  I am well aware that this story came scarily close to ending differently, and I extend my deepest sympathies to those of you who have had to say goodbye to loved ones much too soon for whatever the reason.  Please take heart, and know that something good can be found after the storm of any situation or circumstance that sweeps us off our feet. 
 
Our lives are a precious, fragile gift.  Please don't take one moment for granted. 
 
Boldly say "I love you", when you feel like hesitating.
 
Embrace with a hug. 
 
Extend a smile.
 
Release that beautiful laugh, and don't let anyone or anything stop you from
enjoying this life we've been given!
 

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