This weeks WhatNexter Of The Week is Jenny Miller, she is a breast cancer survivor and an avid WhatNexter. She is always available and willing to provide support and words of encouragement to others of the Community. Her story is a two part, the first was written while going through treatment, the second part was after treatment was completed and she has a new outlook on life after treatment.
Jenny and her Daughter Kim Amelio
Cancer is a game of Solitaire. I am the lone player. I am surrounded by family and friends who love me, who care for me, who pray for me and who support me. However, they do not have cancer. I am the one who has cancer. I cannot accurately relay to them what it feels like to have cancer. It is like trying to describe "giving birth" to an expectant mother - it is not possible to convey the experience - only those who go through it can fully understand. Cancer is the same for me. I cannot describe the feelings and the emotions.
My world as I have known it for 66 years has ended. I now exist in another dimension which I could describe as a "Twilight Zone". I am alone in this dimension but I am aware of my family and friends hovering outside my zone. They are doing their best to be there for me -- to keep me strong and positive. Of course, I appreciate their love and support. However, I am still alone. They have their own lives aside from the world of my cancer. They can escape to those lives and be free. I can compare it to the death of a loved one. Family and friends of that loved one grieve and they miss that person. However, as time passes, they return to their normal routine in life -- they regain the joy of life -- memories fade. Actually, it is quite humbling to realize that you are not the center of the universe -- that life goes on, etc.
Jenny and her Son Ed Miller II
The darkest moments of this journey started on the day I received the phone call -- Cancer -- someone was saying that word to me -- it must be a mistake -- my stomach falls to the floor -- the phone call ends -- my life is forever changed. I go to the door and see my husband in the driveway -- I just look at him and blurt out "I have cancer" -- I say it but I do not believe it and it is a long time before I can say it aloud again. My husband comes in and calls our children. I am no longer in the real world as I watch the reaction around me -- I am removed in an eerie sort of way. The next days are spent in a vacuum -- when I try to face my diagnosis, I get butterflies in my tummy -- then I remind myself of all the survivors that I am hearing about and the butterflies let up for awhile. I am lost as to what to do next. I am not capable of taking action. Thank God for a daughter who takes charge -- does research -- is able to get me in to a top surgeon and top oncologist in record time.
I now become a robot -- returning to the Clinic for 6 hours of torture (MRI, Mammograms, Ultrasounds, Biopsies) whereby I pass out at the end of the 6 hours falling on my face and breaking my nose --- then, my appointment with the Surgeon -- then, my pre-op appointment -- then, my surgery -- then, my joint appointment with surgeon and oncologist -- then, my bone scan and ct scan -- then, port placement -- then, echocardiogram -- then the commencement of chemotherapy ---- and just like a robot, I present myself and say "do what you have to do". However, there was one time that I had a meltdown -- I arrived for my appointment for the port placement. I thought it was a minor procedure like an IV input. My husband had an appointment with his back surgeon so I asked the receptionist how long it was going to be for my procedure. She mentioned pre-op, operating room and recovery. At this point, I was so sick of being poked and prodded -- I just stood in the middle of waiting room looking at my husband and cried. The nurse was so kind and I settled down. When the surgeon found out that I had not stopped my aspirin for the full 5 days, he wanted to postpone the procedure but -- thank God -- he didn't and all went well. So, I got past each of these "hurdles" -- great progress in my battle!!!
Jenny and Husband Mr. Ed Miller
The heroes in my cancer world include my infusion nurses who make chemo bearable and as I move forward I find myself stronger and more positive. I wonder about my world when I complete chemo and radiation. Will it ever feel normal again? Will I live in fear of the cancer returning? Will I learn to live each day to the fullest and not worry? Will the dimension where I now reside fade back into the real world where my loved ones are? It is through the power of prayer that I remain positive that the Good Lord will bring me through this storm to sunny days ahead and I pray that I have the wisdom to appreciate those days and enjoy whatever life I have left.
Jenny's wig choice during treatment
Since I wrote these words, I have finished Chemo, had my port removed, completed 35 Radiation Treatments and have been on Arimidex for 6 months. My strength and hair are returning! When I allow myself to think back over the past year, it does not seem real -- I cannot believe it was actually me who made that journey -- it is like a dream or more accurately a "nightmare". However, it was me and Idid make it -- I was aggressive in my battle against this evil and elusive enemy which gives me peace of mind in knowing that I have done all that I can. In October, my Oncologist used the term "Cancer Free"- which was music to my ears - now, if I can just stay that way. I make every effort to remain on guard but not to be paranoid. I want to learn to live in the present and treasure each moment instead of worrying about tomorrow over which I have no control anyway. I am now phasing back into the real world - not quite the same person - but I am making good progress. Of course, Oncologist appointments and Scans sure do bring back those butterflies.
During that dark time following diagnosis when tears would flow in the quiet of the night -- I found myself needing the support of those who truly understand my agony -- thus enters WhatNext into my life -- Thank God!! I found friends who understood, cared and who were able to help me more than they will ever know. The success stories gave me hope, the strength of my new friends increased my own strength and the positive manner of the site kept me positive. Feelings, experiences and helpful hints that were shared became a mainstay of my life. It was through WhatNext that I learned about Claritin to prevent bone pain from the Neulesta Shot. Now, I want to give back. Every time I see a new diagnosis, my heart truly goes out to this person and I want to share all that I have gained from WhatNext in hopes that I can just play a small role in making it easier for them. The first thing I look for each morning is my WhatNext Digest and I make an effort to respond wherever I am able.
Stop by Jenny's profile page on WhatNext and say hi and tell her thanks for sharing her story.