We all know people who have been diagnosed with some form of cancer. When you get the news that a longtime friend, loved one, or even your own self has been diagnosed with cancer, then the disease becomes even more real and close to home. I will never forget the time when my mother called to tell me my dad had been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. We lost him three months later.
Last February, sad news struck again. We all have friends who have danced through our lives at some point or another. This particular friend was a vital part of my younger years. We were cheerleaders together, and we spent hours on the phone almost every night talking about our day, ABC soap operas, and whatever it is that teens talk about. She was the girl everyone loved. With her striking red curly hair, freckled nose, and witty sense of humor, she was the girl next door that everyone called a friend.
Even though I’ve probably not seen my high school friend in over 25 years, when I saw the news on Facebook that she had been diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer, I felt a stabbing pain in my heart.
This 44-year-old mom to three boys under 9 has since undergone chemo, a bilateral mastectomy, and is now completing eight weeks of radiation. The good news is that there is currently no evidence of disease in her body, but she has to live the rest of her life one day at a time. She will remain on oral medications throughout her life, and she will have PET scans every three months. She has been professionally trained as a nurse and is married to a nurse, so this couple doesn’t sugar-coat the diagnosis. She told me, “The prognosis is not good with Stage 4. We will take it one scan at a time, and hope to remain disease free for a long time.”
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Throughout her fight, she has retained her witty sense of humor despite not knowing what the next day will bring. Her Facebook status updates may have you crying one moment and laughing the next. The other day, she wrote her own message inspired by the children’s book series, “If you give a Mouse a Cookie!”
I don’t have the funds to help pay her medical bills or send her family on the vacation they deserve since they had to cancel an anticipated Disney cruise once she learned of her diagnosis last year, but as a writer I can do something to bring her words to life. I have the platform to share her inspiring story and publish her written words. Here are her words as she lives in the moment of fighting breast cancer.
If you give a woman a Breast Cancer diagnosis
By: Jennifer Robinson Chapel, of Milwaukee, Wi.
If you give a woman a Breast Cancer Diagnosis then.. She will ask you for a tissue. When she uses the tissue. She will remember all the times she wiped her children's noses..
Then she will ask you for a prognosis. When you give her the prognosis. She will wonder how her children and husband would cope with her death. Then she will feel a deep penetrating sadness. When she is able to pull herself back up. She will ask you to help save her.
When she realizes there is fighting chance She will fight like hell to stay around She will ask you to give her every treatment possible with no complaints Even when some days she only wants to sit in a corner and cry until the sun goes down
She will ask you how long these painful symptoms will last. But decide it is nothing if she can stay around for her family. She will ask you "Why her?". Then she will feel angry and cheated.. When she regains control of her emotions.
She will realize she still has her sense of humor. She will then do something mischievous to her husband and laugh all day about it. She may even spray Pledge on the hardwoods for a big "pick me up". Then watch her children slip and fall down all day when running. She did tell them to quit running first.
She might ask for a “new life”. But soon she will realize the life she has is just fine and will accept her "new life" with cancer and see her family in a new light. Then she will remember each day to hug them tighter.
When she hugs her children, husband and puppy. She will ask you for a tissue, as her time with them may have been shortened.
Written on 1/21/2104
Reprinted with permission from Jennifer Chapel. Jennifer has been fighting cancer now for 334 days on the day I submitted this story.