Welcome to Joan's CaringBridge website. We've created it to keep friends and family updated about her latest adventure. Get started by reading the introduction to the website, My Story.
Visit often to read the latest journal entries, visit the photo gallery, and write us a note in our guestbook. Do not feel compelled to donate to CaringBridge, but feel free to work to wipe out STUPID CANCER of all kinds!
I guess God knew that the Big C was always a fear of mine. But not anymore.
When I was 9, my grandma (who lived with us) died of throat cancer after horribly disfiguring surgery and 2 years of misery that I observed in my own childish way. In Jr High, I read Death Be Not Proud, the book by John Gunther chronicling the death of his teenage son from brain cancer. About that time, my adolescent imagination and my fear of cancer combined to produce a teenage angst that resulted in not a few sleepless nights.
But life went on, and adult life found me leaving those fears behind, even when friends and then my brother died of cancer. So many others with cancer survived, and I generally forgot my fears until last year when I felt I was showing some signs of ovarian cancer--changing waist size, feeling bloated. Of course, those "signs" are anything but clear, so I just reported them to the PA at my gynecologist's office. She ordered an ultrasound, and told me the results indicated that there was no cancer. Little did I know that ultrasounds are fairly worthless. In fact, even CT scans don't show much--the one I had last Friday still showed no evidence of exactly where the cancer is because the ovaries are too tiny. Who knew such amazing little glands that hold the source of all life could be so tiny a powerful scan can't find them?
So, in July 2011, a year after the "normal" ultrasound, my asthma got bad and would not go away. For over 2 mos my pulmonologist could not figure out what was going on. He felt I was reacting to the high mold count. I didn't agree. Always before my asthma had been triggered by internal events--pregnancy or infections. Finally, an infection appeared and I was hospitalized and an x-ray showed fluid in the pleural area. The fluid was removed and sent for analysis (that's laboratory analysis, not psychoanalysis;-). Unknown to me, the fluid was sent to Mayo Clinic when my own clinic could not fully decipher what they saw there.
What a surprise when my pulmonologist called me and asked me to come in for the results. I knew something was up when he said he'd wait till 5:30 PM for me to get there. He showed me the letter from Mayo indicating the presence of malignant cells in the lung fluid, cells likely coming from ovarian cancer or primary peritoneal cancer. Thus began my adventure with STUPID CANCER.
However, along with that adventure began my adventure with God's remaking my fears. All of a sudden the Big C had no power over me. "Cancer" didn't strike fear in my soul anymore. It had no power over me because only God has that power.
Virtually as soon as I got the news, I felt supported in the arms of God. My worst moment was trying to find a parking place in downtown Naperville--a common problem!--so I could find Jud and tell him. We had a pretty depressing dinner, but great chili. And since that dinner, I have never felt as discouraged. As soon as we began telling people and they began praying, my spirits lifted. And I began seeing how God had arranged some amazing things prior to the news.
- Our (now former) renter offered to clean house in exchange for money off the rent. Because of her, my messy house was a home again! And her cleaning began before the cancer news, so when I came home after that first news I had a clean home to welcome me.
- Just a few weeks before the news, Jud got a part-time job at the Apple Store in Naperville, supplementing his business income that has been minimal in recent years.
- The one thing his business income consistently paid for has been our HMO. Because of that, we were assured that we would owe nothing except a few copays for doctors and medication! We are so grateful. - Before our HMO referred me to Dr Dolan at Advocate Lutheran General, two other people told me to look into this highly effective MD named Dolan.
- When daughter Nori's college advisor heard my news, she showed up at Nori's student teaching placement and told her that she could take off as much time as she needed to help out at home, finish her student teaching in January, but still graduate in December with her class. - And finally, the CT scan I had indicated that the cancer, though metastatic, currently does not appear in any major organs.