Monday, October 08, 2007

Any (not just breast) Cancer Awareness Month

October is breast cancer awareness month. Yes, breast cancer holds a special place in my body (not my heart), but I want to honor all people with cancer this month.

I asked people on the FDMB to help honor family members, friends, themselves, public
figures: people living with a cancer diagnosis, people caring for people with a cancer diagnosis, people who have passed to spirit from cancer.

Here are our messages. Messages of love, of hope, of loss, of survival.

My Father, Vernon

My Father, Vernon, known to his friends as Woody, was born in 1927 and died in 1981. 54 years old.

When I was a young child, he was a vibrant, fun-loving, and intelligent man and a doting father. Life pressures and alcohol destroyed his spirit early in life and eventually estranged him from most of his family. He died of lung cancer, mestaticized to his brain, with only his 2nd wife and his older daughter to call his friends.

He is my hero because, although I had only about 5 nurturing years with him, he gave me the gifts of loving life and learning.

I have a picture but no scanner. He was handsome as a younger man, very dapper.

Linda and Chance's Parents Gerald and Hazel

My Mom passed in Sept. 1998 from lung cancer and my Dad passed in May 2003 from lung cancer. These were the hardest years of my life. They each faced death bravely. I think I've earned the right to preach a little; Please, if you smoke, please try to quit. Try again and again until it sticks. Don't do it for yourself, do it for those who love you so maybe they won't have to watch you die such a death. My parents are missed greatly.

Maximillians Person (Donna's) Family

My father, Garry, diagnosed with Renal Cell Carcinoma at age 29, passed away April 22, 1977. He was a band director and touched the lives of many, many children besides his own with a love and appreciation of music. I still occasionally run into his former students who tell me what an amazing spirit he was in life.

My Uncle Glenn (my father's brother) is a multiple cancer survivor. He is currently battling thyroid cancer and winning.

My granddaddy Bowen (my father's father) has had many types of cancer and all have been new and exciting forms and not a result of earlier cancer. (In other words, he's been *cured* many times.) He's had Melanomas, Lymphoma (twice), Prostate cancer, Colon Cancer, and currently he is battling bladder cancer. He's my hero because he has never given up. He just keeps winning.

My cousin Bonnie (on my mother's side). Was diagnosed with Renal Cell carcinoma at age 29... She is winning her battle against this awful cancer. She's fighting to stay around for her two young girls.

My Aunt Jane (Glen's wife). She has had breast cancer twice and beat it both times. Both of her sisters and her mother have also battled and won their bouts with breast cancer.

Me. I guess I can't be my own hero, but I am the poster child for early detection and regular screenings. I had melanoma (very early stage). I was diagnosed when I was 29. I got clean borders when it was removed. (Those are the two sweetest words in the world *clear borders*!!)

Foxdancer (Rilla)

My colleague Jim just passed from pancreatic cancer a few weeks ago. He was the person who adopted Shahara, the little black rescue kitty I trapped in Seattle. She was his little princess- the best adoption I'd ever made. It was very sudden. He was only in his early sixties, and had just retired about 5 months ago. He was looking forward to traveling and spending time on his boat.

My housemate's father, Henry Powell, passed from pancreatic cancer last year. He and his wife were raising their three grandchildren (housemate's sis is a drug addict). He is sorely missed by his family.

Bev and Mitsy's Father

Was 63 yrs old. Had cancerous tumors on his sides, died 1990 memorial day weekend. Scanner not working so no picture. Handsome man, tall, lean, and raised us after my mother left us.

Sandy and Jake's Family

Currently my Sister is fighting the battle of her life (ovarian cancer). She is my HERO! The picture (she is in the middle with the cowboy hat) is from a benefit for CASA (she became a child advocate a few months ago despite her illness). My Aunt lost her life to breast cancer, my Uncle to liver cancer, my Mother in Law to renal cancer. My Mother is a ovarian cancer survivor and brother non-hodgkins lymphoma survivor. I also have 3 cousins that are cancer survivors, ovarian/bladder/testicular. These family members are all my heroes.

Renee's (renegade500) Dad

My dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer January 6 of this year. He died on February 3, aged 75.

In the last 10 years of his life, after he retired, my dad spent his time (and money) rescuing animals in South Florida. He started a nonprofit no-kill animal rescue organization based out of Ft. Lauderdale. They take in animals a lot of other rescue groups don't - usually very sick or injured animals. They rehabilitate them and foster them until they are adopted out.

I know the group has been struggling since my dad died (in part because my dad had so much time to devote to the organization due to being retired), but they continue to do the important work.

At his funeral, a lot of people from various South Florida rescue groups, plus several veterinarians, spoke about his work and how much he will be missed in the rescue community.

Unfortunately, I don't have any digital pictures of him.

Amy'sWinston's Dad and Too Many Others

My Dad, Harry. Was diagnosed with lung cancer when he was 48. He died 2 weeks later on May 26th, 1978, when I was 10. My family says I got more of him than any of the other kids...but I was too young to remember much. They tell me I'm the most like him. I remember him always bringing me balloons, for no reason. He taught me to fish with him when I was 3 and I was his fishing buddy from then on. I don't think any of the other kids would get up go out with him at 4am to fish. I always caught more than he did! He gave me a love for Southern food. He had a wicked sense of humor and could charm anyone he met. He was a big man with a big heart, and I miss him every day.

My cousin Charlie (on Dad's side) He'd been diagnosed with brain cancer in his mid 40's with no hope. He beat it and was clean the last 5 years of his life. It came back...with a vengeance, and he lost his fight last month, passing at the age of 53.

"Mama G." Eleanor Genovese. She was diagnosed with end stage breast cancer and passed this past February after a short, but valiant fight. No matter how bad she felt, she'd greet you with a smile and a dirty joke. She was a feisty, opinionated woman who loved fiercely. She was like a mother to me for many years. "adopted' was never a designation for her, she treated me like a real daughter...all the good and bad that came with it.

Estelle Novis. She battled breast cancer for over 20 years. She lost all her sisters and aunts to breast cancer, and fought even harder on their behalf. She was also an adopted mother to me all the years I was in CT. She started as co-worker, then became my friend, then became like a mother to me. She had me over for dinner every Friday night for Shabbat (sp?) and taught me all about their Jewish traditions. She lost her battle, and left us last year.

Milly Kansteiner. She was an elder care client of mine in Virginia. What trip Milly was! At 80+ she still died her hair flaming red like Lucille Ball, wore funky little socks and earrings, and painted each room of her house a different color from a crayon box. I was with her at a routine Dr.'s appointment when she was diagnosed with liver cancer, and I had to call her son in Alaska and let them know. Through all that followed the next few months, her sons became good, close friends of mine...and I'm grateful for their friendship.

Julie and Maddie Catie

Rachel, one of my dearest friends for over 20 years. 44. Died the day of Mom's funeral. Two dear women. Big holes they've left behind. 3 uncles, 2 aunts, family friends Howard, John, Leon, gone. Now Jerry, a neighbor home with hospice. I hate cancer. Thanks for giving me a place to say it.

And to the survivors! Venita, you and Carol, and Robin, and EVERYONE else out there on this board, my friend Delores in Indiana, my friends John and Ann in FL, you're all my heroes, too, and you're all going to beat it. I am CHEERING YOU ON EVERY DAY. Every day. I wish I could write it bigger. Much love.

Sally & Simon & Sasha's Aunts and 2 Cousins

All three of my Mom's sisters were/are breast cancer survivors. The oldest sister, Aunt Lorna, passed away in 1990 from causes unrelated to cancer. My Aunt Phyllis and Aunt Wilma are both breast cancer survivors and are still living and cancer free. They both live in Nebraska so I am able to spend some time with them.

Aunt Wilma's oldest daughter, Michael, lost her battle with breast cancer at age 55. This was her second bout with cancer.

My Aunt Phyllis's oldest daughter, Chris, passed away this August after a 20 month battle with liver and pancreatic cancer. She passed 4 days before her 58th birthday. She was just a year and a half older than me and I have many wonderful memories of our childhood together. She lived in Chicago. Chris is my special Hero. She fought very hard to beat this cancer. She went through a lot of chemo, radiation and kidney dialysis. All with a smile on her face and a goal to win! In the end, she lost her battle, but had such a wonderful support group of friends and family. From what my Aunt Phyl has told me, Hospice was such a wonderful group there and kept her free from pain. Her employer paid her full salary the whole time she was sick and was very supportive of her. I still grieve for my cousin, my friend.

My Dad had bladder cancer back in 1990, but he was also a cancer survivor. He was 5 years cancer free when he passed from congestive heart failure in 1995. He has always been my Hero for many reasons.

This picture is of my Aunt Phyllis, Aunt Wilma and my cousin, Chris. This was about 6 months after Chris's diagnosis.

Bless you, Venita, for doing this. You are also my Hero. I say a prayer for you everyday. May you continue to be a *survivor* forever!

Heather_Mr.Tubs's Gradma and Mom

My grandma Marian (mom's mom) had metastatic breast cancer. She had a double mastectomy. She died of lung cancer Dec. 6, 1989. My grandmother played an important and influential parental role in my childhood. We lived with my grandparents for a time after my parent's divorce. Growing up we played with her wigs and she was never ashamed of her scars. She showed us her bandages and staples after her mastectomy. She was a fighter. That loss was one of *the* defining moments in my life. I was 12 and it felt like I lost a parent. In my short time with her, she was an example of strength and courage. I will never forget those important painful lessons and she will always be my hero.

My mom was diagnosed with Stage 2 Uterine Cancer Dec. 22, 2005. She had a hysterectomy in Jan. 2006. She's been cancer free for going on 2 years. I'm fortunate to be from a family of strong women. My mother has taught me strength, independence and perseverance.

Marialyce and Sparky's (feathersby's) Family and Friends

My grandmother, Alice, who died of a sarcoma when I was six.

My Dad, Bernie, diagnosed with colon cancer in 1968 and died from a recurrence in 2000. His younger brother, my Uncle Eddie died of colon cancer also.

My Aunt Dot survived breast cancer over 10 years before dying from it in 1971.

My only female cousin underwent double mastectomy in her 30's, have lost contact with her.

One of my nursing school classmates and a good friend died of Lung cancer last year.

My friend Sue, who underwent double mastectomy 2 weeks ago, currently healing and planning other therapies.

Carol-Charlie's Husband Tom (her Caregiver)

My wonderful Tom, who has never complained, has done everything from change bandages, to litter boxes. He learned to care for Charlie the day I was diagnosed back in January of 06... he's taken over the care of feeding and litterbox changing. He cleans house (hired a cleaning lady once a month too) does 90% of the cooking and baking...

He tells me I'm beautiful... when I'm sitting there bald, and fat and feeling sorry for him. When this man looked at me and said..."For better or for worse... In sickness and in health..." He meant every word... and absolutely no complaints.

He'll take me for rides.. (buys me an icecream cone and off we go...) It gets me out... without worry of germs... He takes me shopping, and lets me 'save him money, buying on sale'... He buys a new watch for me, and puts it in a McDonalds bag.... Good thing I didn't eat it..

He holds my hand when I'm scared, and we start planning our trips to meet you all next year when I'm better... (been two years of saying next year... but)

We're going to New England .. Catnip Cottage, Oregon... Chicago.. want to meet the Tennesee girls (and Smokey).. and on and on... we'll be retired and heck... we can drive... my feeling should come back in my feet... We love to drive and sing the oldies... you know real oldies... 50's, 60's, and 70's... Thanks for letting me talk about Tom...

Robin (from Carol-Charlie)

Let's not forget Robin. She fought breast cancer, then had a brain tumor removed and never really even slowed down in helping us on FDMB to help others. She was a voice of strength for me when I was diagnosed, and sanity, when I thought I'd gone brain dead.. (Chemo Brain)... heard it first from our Robin. She remains a great gift to this board.

Then of course there is you Venita... another hero of mine... sadly there are a few of us on FDMB that are fighting more than feline diabetes.

Lets all remember to pray for healing (please/thank you) for all of us who still battle this very scary disease.

Thank you all!!!! I know prayer works... I am still here.

Teresa and Olivia's Father

I can't read these without bawling my eyes out. My father, Jack Hale, passed away on January 12th, 2004, at the age of 68. He died from metastatic thyroid cancer, which he fought for 23 years. He had part of his jaw removed, his hip replaced, and many other surgeries, fighting every day he could to see his granddaughters for as long as possible. He is my hero, along with all of the cancer fighters on this board.

Karen and Splash's Dad

My dad....Jim...diagnosed this past June with esophageal cancer. He taught me to be a strong independent woman so whatever life handed me I would be able to deal with. He has tried to protect me so much as he has ventured through this new labyrinth of treatments and decisions, but I think he has finally realized that it is our turn to take care of him. He is only 68 years young.

On top of this, he is a 40 year bladder cancer survivor. In 1967 the only treatment option was surgery. Chemotherapy was still experimental where it was being used. But his early detection saved his he could be in mine. (Mom was pregnant with me when he was diagnosed back then)

1 comment:

Donna said...

this post is amazing. Thank you, Venita.