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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Table Talk Thursday: A Story of Survival

My name is Phyllis and I want to share with you my story of survival.

I’ve been blessed every step of the way on this journey that began more than fifteen years ago with annual mammograms. In 1998 suspicious spots were noted on my mammograms. They were monitored from year to year. In 2003 there was a spot on the left breast that required a biopsy. The biopsy came back negative and my Dr. placed a marker for future reference. In May of 2008 the mammogram of the right breast showed a change and my cancer journey began.Through out this journey there was rarely an easy decision to be made. My test results were usually border line and offered 2 options. I prayed that the doctors who examined me would have their eyes opened and provide a clear path. Getting a second opinion for the breast surgeon and the oncologist gave me the answers I needed. God always answered my prayers, but not always in the way I’d hoped. My next challenge was a mastectomy of the right breast with reconstruction and 4 sessions of chemotherapy. My last session was in January 2009.

Early detection has provided me the best possible outcome for the future. I look forward to my daughter’s wedding; my son earn his degree in sequential art and embark on his life long dream of being a cartoonist; and to celebrate many more anniversaries with my husband. My hair fell out, but I own some beautiful scarves and hats, most of them given to me by friends along my journey. My biggest challenge was how to tie my scarves and how to coordinate them with my outfit each day.

I have been blessed with an incredible support group. From the moment I announced that I had breast cancer, my office workers rallied around to support me. Prior to surgery they listened, prayed and supported me without taking pity. They knew I wanted to maintain as normal a life as possible and they respected that.

As I prepared for my surgery, they organized a meal brigade. My husband and I were treated to delicious dinners for 2 weeks after my surgery. When bringing us meals, they visited and helped me feel cared for and connected. They went the extra mile, and I know that I have been blessed with incredible support.

During my absence, my co-workers picked-up my workload without a complaint. Upon my return, they watched me like a mother hen to ensure that I did not do more than I should. During chemo, when I tired easily and was usually nauseous, they continued their support. They brought me books on how to cope, scarves for when my hair fell out and were known upon occasion to send me home.

Not content with all they had done, Angel M. and Kathy W. announced that they were going to participate in the Avon 2 day Walk for Breast Cancer in my honor. They set up their websites and emailed co-workers, family and friends of their participation and asked for donations. Within minutes of the emails, pledges for $275 were received – mostly from our co-workers. Between the two of them they raised $5720.

Every step of my journey from diagnosis through surgery and recovery, my co-workers listened, prayed, offered words of support, cooked meals, helped with my office duties, walked in my honor, supported those who walked and truly came together as my support team. I know of no other office where everyone would willingly pledge this level of support. I am blessed to work in a company that truly cares for their employees.

I know that the amazing support that surrounded me is why today I can say I am a survivor


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