The Road Less Traveled
It was a cold November day, I remember the date clearly. It was November 9, 2000. I was 47 years old and had two daughters in high school. The diagnosis was a good one: stage one, ductal carcinoma in-situ. A lumpectomy was performed on January 25, 2001, another date I will always remember. Surgery was successful, and I had radiation for six weeks. During this time, I became my own advocate and some hard decisions were made: no chemotherapy and no tamoxifen. This is when my “researching brain” went into action.
Fast forward to 2018 and I am now facing a diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer. The final diagnosis after many scans and tests came on April 24, 2018. My right breast has a tumor that had mainly metastasized to the bones in my spine, ribs, scapulae, shoulders, arms. There was a nodule on my liver and some very small spots on my lungs. Someone had given me a greeting card and on the back of the card, I found the following little poem, "The Path" that has helped me stay focused on this road less traveled.
"The Path" poem
"When I first embarked on my cancer journey, the path ahead was daunting. There was so much to learn about my cancer, decisions to make about my treatment, and a wide range of emotions to navigate. The terrain felt unknown, overgrown and overwhelming. With every tentative step, the path began to reveal itself to me. As I slowly walked, the way became clear, and, over time, I realized that if I just looked up, my path was dotted with signs of hope to guide me along the way. Even when you cannot see the path that you must walk once you step out in faith you’ll find your way by heart."
After my first diagnosis (2001), I started my own cancer support group. The meetings were bi-monthly then monthly. The focus of the group was one of spiritual support and the participants were both men and women who were facing all types of cancer, not just breast cancer. This very special group known as “The Circle of Light” remained together until January 2017 when I retired from my job. The things I learned during those years and the people I sat with have shaped how I am handling my current diagnosis. Simply…question everything, read everything and listen to your inner wisdom figure.
After my diagnosis in April, I immediately called one of the members of the group who is a retired doctor who is dealing with lung cancer. Our initial conversation led me to contact the author of the book “Keto for Cancer”. I began the ketogenic diet removing all sugar from my daily life. No more wine, pasta, bread or any food that would metabolize sugar. Since this author was in Montana, I initially contacted her by phone and later via a Zoom meeting and she told me to find a personal trainer and strengthen my core and upper body. At that time, I felt “fragile” and my back and shoulders were in pain.
“The Road Less Traveled” is my story of a 65-year-old woman who had to muster the courage to question, to research the best path for her life.
Editor’s Note: We are extremely saddened to say that on November 5, 2019, Linda passed away. Linda’s advocacy efforts and writing continue to reach many. She will be deeply missed.
Caregivers: Do you practice self-care?