Kathy Lee

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in August, and had surgery (lumpectomy) on September 20th. In a whirlwind of decision making we came to the conclusion that chemotherapy was advisable. Yesterday, December 28th I had what is my last planned round (of 4) of chemotherapy. Im not a fan honestly. It has been a challenge to remain positive during this phase of the treatment.  The nurses, doctors, and friends have helped me to laugh and keep my sanity. 

I had two more diagnostic scans in January indicating that the breast cancer did not migrate to other areas of my body!!!   

I've had a few weeks post chemo to recover. I feel mmmuch better and working through side effects.  It's interesting how those words "side effects" seem to belittle  what happens to a body after treatment.  The edema, the neropathy, the exhaustion, the mental confusion.  Those are just side effects...

Now for the next step in my treatment. In late January or early February, I will  start radiation therapy in Hibbing for 6 weeks/5 days a week to make sure all the cancer has been targeted. This treatment is a full out assault ranging from surgery, to chemistry, and now protons.. 

I was "fitted" for my radiation treatments  late January and got three tattoos! The technology used for these treatments is amazing.

The appointments themselves do not take that long, but we live almost an hour from Hibbing, so lots of quality 'books on tape' time.  I start the actual treatments next week. 

The radiation treatments are going smoothly  so far. I am on day 6 of 30. It's like being abducted by aliens and having them do a daily scan with a large machine!  It is actually not unpleasant. The room is serene, the people are very nice, and they  play some awesome music. Today it's was born to be wild,... 

In six weeks my body will be free and I will be on vacation with my family in some place much warmer than MN. Can't wait.

Yes! It's been 6 weeks and my treatments are done. Just like that. DONE.  For now anyway.   I am grateful, exhausted, numb, elated, and so much more.  I have a friend that was diagnosed with cancer recently and I grieve for him 'cause I know where he is going. I pray that he comes put the other side.

I'm leaving on vacation soon, and know I will be making changes when I get back.  I go back for a check up when I get back. I guess they will tell me if I passed...

As hard and shocking as the discovery of cancer was, we feel very fortunate. The cancer was detected relatively early from a routine mammogram, and I have had great care at Grand Itasca Hospital and Clinic!  The doctors, nurses, and  all the staff have been fantastic.

It has brought our family closer together, and has made us appreciate what a great group of friends, both local and not, that we have!!  It has made all four of us thankful for all the relationships and experiences we have, and freed us up from sweating the small stuff.  My children and husband have really taken good care of me for which I am so grateful. The hardest thing I had to do was tell my sweet babies (13 and 10).  I'm so proud of them! They have found positive ways to cope with the diagnosis and keep up with their lives!

It has also opened my heart to possibilities that I never would have considered, and helped me to see grace and gratitude all around me. It has renewed existing friendships also opened new friendships that have been a saving grace.

It has also been a hellish experience that has stripped me of many things that defined me and left me with permanent evidence of my brush with mortality.  I have scars and tattoos, and very little hair.  I have new pains and loss of strength that challenge me daily.  I pray that new treatments come along as research advances or that prevention strategies are identified.

 The grief that comes along with this disease is a teacher and I have a  lot to learn as I move forward. I have learned a lot about generosity.  With all the reported negativity and divisiveness in our country and the world,  I have found none of that in my experience with healing. Political and religious differences just don't matter when it comes to helping people in need. 

Unfortunately, cancer touches many of us and our families. My advice to you is to get regular cancer screening tests! and look at these prevention strategies.




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