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garden of healing

Posted Aug 28 2009 8:08pm


read and learn daily
fertilize seeds of knowledge
small flowers bloom
♦     ♦     ♦     ♦     ♦

When my back began hurting last year, I worried that maybe my breast cancer had returned. I’d never had back problems before, so it seemed strange to me that I would have the kind of debilitating pain that started around May 2008. When I went to my PCP, she assured me that it was only arthritis and osteoporosis from my previous chemotherapy in 2004. Despite agonizing pain that barely responded to medications like Vicodin® and oxycodone and return visits to primary care, the pain clinic and the ER, the story continued that the pain was nothing more than arthritis and osteoporosis.

Fast forward to a visit to the clinic, as a result of my husband’s insistence, January 28, 2009: the MRI from 1/23/09 showed my breast cancer had metastasized to my back, infiltrating my spinal column with a large tumor. The doctor who saw me that day admitted me that night. The next two days were a blur of preparation for a six-hour spine surgery. The actual surgery on 1/30/09 took nine hours; my surgeon said they did what they could but were unable to remove all of the tumor. The oncology team would be stopping by to discuss with me the proposed treatment regimen that would start as soon as possible.

Having always been a person who wants details on anything having to do with my health, this time I felt I could handle only so much. I suppose it would have been different had the news been good. I decided I knew what I needed to know: my breast cancer had mutated to a form more difficult to treat: as before lacking the HER2 growth factor receptor but now also lacking receptors for estrogen or progesterone ( triple-negative breast cancer ). From the meetings with my oncology team it was clear that the battle would be tough. My goal then was to cultivate strength and a positive attitude by maintaining my emotional, spiritual and psychological health. Amid the barrage of massive information, I asked no further questions about details; I concentrated on becoming comfortable with my new garden of healing.

bees-flowers As I work in my new garden, I’ve established a new goal: to learn as much as I can so I can participate in my treatment. Although I have the utmost faith in my oncology team, I want to know my treatment plan and options. I will read about clinical trials so I can discuss with my oncologist the possibility of my participation. I will ask the hard questions.

A small part of me wonders whether I could have done something to prevent the delayed diagnosis of my advanced cancer. I know that I cannot ponder the what ifs because it is a waste of time; I must look only forward. I will pursue knowledge about my condition as well as the hard answers to my questions. I will carefully tend my garden of healing.

5 6 7 8


read and learn daily
fertilize seeds of knowledge
small flowers bloom
♦     ♦     ♦     ♦     ♦

When my back began hurting last year, I worried that maybe my breast cancer had returned. I’d never had back problems before, so it seemed strange to me that I would have the kind of debilitating pain that started around May 2008. When I went to my PCP, she assured me that it was only arthritis and osteoporosis from my previous chemotherapy in 2004. Despite agonizing pain that barely responded to medications like Vicodin® and oxycodone and return visits to primary care, the pain clinic and the ER, the story continued that the pain was nothing more than arthritis and osteoporosis.

Fast forward to a visit to the clinic, as a result of my husband’s insistence, January 28, 2009: the MRI from 1/23/09 showed my breast cancer had metastasized to my back, infiltrating my spinal column with a large tumor. The doctor who saw me that day admitted me that night. The next two days were a blur of preparation for a six-hour spine surgery. The actual surgery on 1/30/09 took nine hours; my surgeon said they did what they could but were unable to remove all of the tumor. The oncology team would be stopping by to discuss with me the proposed treatment regimen that would start as soon as possible.

Having always been a person who wants details on anything having to do with my health, this time I felt I could handle only so much. I suppose it would have been different had the news been good. I decided I knew what I needed to know: my breast cancer had mutated to a form more difficult to treat: as before lacking the HER2 growth factor receptor but now also lacking receptors for estrogen or progesterone ( triple-negative breast cancer ). From the meetings with my oncology team it was clear that the battle would be tough. My goal then was to cultivate strength and a positive attitude by maintaining my emotional, spiritual and psychological health. Amid the barrage of massive information, I asked no further questions about details; I concentrated on becoming comfortable with my new garden of healing.

bees-flowers As I work in my new garden, I’ve established a new goal: to learn as much as I can so I can participate in my treatment. Although I have the utmost faith in my oncology team, I want to know my treatment plan and options. I will read about clinical trials so I can discuss with my oncologist the possibility of my participation. I will ask the hard questions.

A small part of me wonders whether I could have done something to prevent the delayed diagnosis of my advanced cancer. I know that I cannot ponder the what ifs because it is a waste of time; I must look only forward. I will pursue knowledge about my condition as well as the hard answers to my questions. I will carefully tend my garden of healing.

5 6 7 8

I love your line … cultivate strength and a positive attitude.

I too was not aggressive enough about getting more scans and tests done when my cancer returned in 2004. After some some minor surgery and some x-rays, the oncologist said everything was fine. I wanted nothing more than to believe them.

I think we have too many challenges ahead of us to weigh ourselves down with the past.

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