Thursday, October 29, 2015

Linda's Story

Linda has offered to kindly share her story with us as well.

My name is Linda Walsh, and I'm a mother, wife, and grandmother.  I'm also a three year survivor of Breast Cancer.  I live in Crystal Lake, Illinois, which is a very good community to raise a family.  People here still help each other and when I got sick, many people helped out my family by bringing meals, giving me rides, sending cards and so much more.  My diagnosis and treatments took about 16 months of my life.  It was not an easy journey, and without my family, friends, and church members, I might not have made it through the whole way.

My diagnosis came at the worst possible time for our family.  In August of 2012, my son, age 19, had fallen from a tree and was severely injured.  Two major surgeries, 11 days in the hospital, and he had to drop out of college because of the injuries.  He had shattered his shoulder, and his elbow, and had other major injuries.  I quit the part time job I had and went into caregiver mode.  He needed help for basic needs.  It was a grueling month or so that included being driven to doctor appointments, physical therapy, and so much more. 

Then I got my yearly notice for my mammogram. Didn't think anything of it and went.  I had false positives before, so when the tech said to come back later for an ultrasound, it still didn't occur to me that anything was wrong.  They set me up for a biopsy the next week, and on our 24th wedding anniversary, I had the biopsy.  Two days later, we found out it was cancer.

I never knew there were so many kinds of breast cancer, and the stages.  I then had to have a lumpectomy, a port installed and chemo started before Christmas.  It was like having the flu for months.  They ended up taking me off the heavy drugs after four times out of a scheduled 6, because I was so weak and ended up in the hospital 3 times. 
Radiation was in the Spring. And I had never been so tired in my life.

It probably took a good year afterwards to feel human again.  The experience was pure hell, and I would not wish this on a mortal enemy.

As for Pink for October, I like the awareness that the pink ribbons get, but I do think it has been too commercialized.  All these companies claim they donate the proceeds of their products but sometimes, it's as little as 1 percent.  And pink products are everywhere, from yogurt, to water bottles to shampoo (a real slap because most of us lose our hair during chemo) and many other products. 

One organization that I dealt with during this whole battle was the American Cancer Society.  I had been involved with Relay for Life for years because a good friend's husband had passed away from lung cancer at age 42.  So that was the organization that I called.  They sent me booklets about cancer, food to eat, and all kinds of other information.  There is an 800 number that is answered 24/7 that will help you with any questions.  And they also provided me with a wig, and scarves and hats for free during the battle.  To me, this is the organization that really does a lot for patients.

I do believe that most of the breast cancer comes from the environment.  I grew up in Cicero Illinois, and three of my friends also has had breast cancer.  One of the ladies passed away from breast cancer at age 52, leaving behind a daughter, a spouse and grandchildren.

I recently became a grandmother for the first time to a baby girl named Natalie.  I'm also due for my yearly checkups in October.  And if the cancer comes back, I will fight it again, with all my heart, for that little girl.  Even though Cancer is a Bitch, and it's treatments are horrible, I would go through it all again for my family.

Oh, and even though I am on yearly check ups now, I still get a bit paranoid and upset and lose sleep over the upcoming doctor appointments and mammograms.
On a bonus note: Linda is also a knitter and crocheter (there seems to be quite a few of us out there!) And when she sent me her story, she told me it was okay to not use it, but it helped her a lot just to put it into words. I'm so glad it did and glad I can share it here!

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