Survived hell.

If you want to know what it’s like to survive hell and still come out shining brighter than the sun, just look into the eyes of a woman who has survived intense damage and refused to allow it to destroy her softness. ~ Nikita Gill

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  1. After living through a diagnosis of Inflamatory Breast Cancer, you realize that if you can walk through this you can make it through any challenge. At first your family and yourself will be in total shock. In most cases you will be hearing you have something you didn’t even know excisted. Twenty years ago, we were told the survival rate was bleak. But, we knew we could be in a study with the head Oncologist and top surgeon at the University of Iowa City and the top surgeon out of a University of Texas hospital. To even be in this study, your health history had to be very good. Smoking, drinking would eliminate a person right from the start. They warned their patients the “road” would be horrible but it was the best they could offer at the time. Of course, we really had no choice but to sign the papers and get going as soon as possible.
    It was really as bad as they had warmed us it would be. Top that off with a lady who gets homesick by even being a few miles from home. With wonderful nurses and an amazing support system at home we made it through the Chemo part. After some recovery time we headed into the surgery piece of the plan. It is pretty scary to look at scars where part of your body was before. Then you wait for the pathology report to come back. When the surgeons and nurses surround you and look disappointed, you know this whole ordeal is far from over. So, you start on the part that is radiation. In those days, the choice was to send the weeks in Iowa City or drive to a hospital in Moline. Because I was going to have two treatments a day, we decided that if I could be home at night and the week ends, my mental health would be better. So, just as soon as the surgery had healed somewhat, the radiation started. The Nurses and Doctors were amazing. In between treatments I would hang around the “Quad Cities” and heal. Actually, somehow I was able to drive myself to the treatments which made it so much easier on our family. I truly believe being forced to go in the Malls and Restaurants erased some of my shyness about being bald and quite lopsided on top. But, after all the treatments were done and I was finished with the protical of the study, somehow I felt afraid of the future and the waiting game.
    We went for routine follow up appointments and was always told the test showed good things but that is what they were, just indicators. The Oncologist wasn’t an optimistic fellow, he never let us believe we were “out of the woods”. But, as visit after visit came back with good news, we finally let ourselves relax a little.
    That was in 1994, many years ago but this type of Breast Cancer is still taking lives. The survival rates are a little better but obviously still not good enough.
    I was a very fortunate lady and my heart breaks for a fellow patient who was so brave but didn’t even make it to the radiation stage. If anyone should have survived, it was her. She was a beautiful woman with a beautiful soul. Nothing makes sense when surviving a vicious disease, no one can list the qualifications a person must have or what mental traits make one person survive while another dear lady just somehow doesn’t make it through. Many will say to me that I was so strong, no, no I wasn’t strong even a little bit. No one cryed more than I did. No one clung to their family and friends more than I did.
    Somehow, I just couldn’t let go, but then I know no one else wanted to let go either. You would think someone who has lived through this horrible thing would have some insight into how they managed to survive when the odds were so stacked against them but I really have thought about what advice I could offer someone in a similar situation, but try as I might, I have no idea but to just make it through one hour at a time, hold yourself tight in your hospital bed and just let your body take over and know you will be all right with the future one way or the other. Breath deep, let the air around you feel peaceful. Just allow your body to make it through this night. I actually, felt my body being lifted off my bed one lonely night. It was a sign I wasn’t as alone as I felt in that big old hospital many miles away from my family.

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