Shame On Me?

Shame On Me, a blog by Bernadette Rose Smith

I’ve been lost in a circle of shame. Lost with untold stories. And my partner in crime is not here to release me. He died of cancer.

I tell others that there is no shame in a mess. That it is all usable by the Divine. To turn that mess over to God and watch the miracles multiply.

It seems I hold myself to another, less forgiving, measure.

I found the quote above in a Somerset Life magazine that was tucked into a care package of goodies intended to help me heal from flu/bronchitis complications after my breast surgery. Dropped off by an earth angel who had no way of knowing the key to freedom her gesture – and this quote – offered.

I was in agony. Not from the flu or bronchitis or even the breast cancer. They paled in comparison to the hurdle mounting within me. Read more

Pin It

Dear Doctors, While you profiled stress, he died of cancer. #PTSD. #Depression. #Anxiety.

Dear Doctors, While you profiled stress, he died of cancer.

He didn’t have to die. Not the way he did. I write these words not for drama sake nor your pity and prayers. I have been silent, up to this point, in order to deal with my own health issue. But now that I am finished with what I hope to be my final big deal in this breast cancer journey, it’s time to speak up.

Denial never sustainably served anyone so I am not sweeping this under the rug.

Consider this post a tiny ripple in a vast ocean of health care despair; urging attention, focus and advocacy for solutions in a health care system that breaks as many hearts – in what they miss and dismiss – as the diseases/conditions they work to cure.

“… Ray lived only 50 days beyond diagnosis and most of that in a hospital. And now, I am left to digest that it was a slow-growing cancer, missed by a medical system of specialists and primary care that only looked at their piece of the elephant. A blog for another day.”

 I wrote that in July’s, Why I’m Not Fighting Cancer Again blog, and today is another day.

Why today? Because on February 6, 2017, I was not sitting at a keyboard in front of a computer screen. I was sitting in the emergency room of a hospital an hour away from home, terrified that someone I loved lost his footing and fell between the cracks within the medical community that was supposed to help him – to the point that suicide now appeared his only option for relief. Read more

Pin It

Breast Cancer. Two Cents Worth from My Tatas to Yours.

 

Breast Cancer My Two Cents Worth in Bernadette's Musings from the Messy Room

The musings expressed here are strictly those of a woman making her way through breast cancer and are based solely on her personal beliefs and experience. They are not intended to sway or convince anyone of anything other than to honor-with-action what is right for them.

I’m following through on a decision for surgery this week with full knowledge that I will, no doubt, disappoint some folks before all this is over.

I gain no pleasure from being in this position to disappoint. As a matter of fact, I have spent the greater portion of my life working to resolve differences so as not to disappoint. There is an irony that I find myself exercising my option to displease with a life and death decision.

Who will be disappointed if I live – my way? Who, if I die – my way? I suppose that depends on how tightly the need to be right is clung to – your way.

If you are someone who loves me, I know you’ll get around to understanding what doing this “my way” allows me to reach for – no matter how this goes. The angels gave me matches to play with in this life, death, cancer thing and I am learning so much while blazing this trail. And not just for me. (“Whoa. We gave that child matches and a blog?” I hear them chuckling.)

If you are a distant-someone in my cancer circle and find yourself disappointed, perhaps you missed it back there somewhere. The invitation. What your path crossing mine was to give you. You may want to retrace your steps. Read more

Pin It

Why I Won’t Survive Cancer

Why I Am Not A Cancer Survivor

The musings expressed here are strictly those of a woman making her way through breast cancer and are based solely on her personal beliefs and experience. They are not intended to sway or convince anyone of anything other than to honor-with-action what is right for them.

 

Okay. Now, that’s out of the way. Picture this.

You’re standing in a hallway. The light is dim. There are two doors. One says Survivor. The other, Thriver. That’s it. No other door. No third option. Which do you walk through? And on what do you base that decision?

Those presenting me with the standard medical model don’t see the hallway. They don’t see the two doors. As a matter of fact, a few of them don’t even see me. When they look at me, they see cancer, a breast that is gone, and a pathology report that says cancer cells may be left behind. And they see their particular medical offering of what might constitute a cure.

Some of these specialists don’t like the questions I ask or that I ask them at every turn. They don’t understand that I am not questioning their expertise. They don’t understand that I am gathering information critical to my peace of mind – a peace of mind that necessitates I am part of the equation in this medical maze of treatments. (After navigating the insurance maze, I might add.)

Am I sounding frustrated? Well, ride with it because I am. And, at times, I am also dismayed, shocked, aghast; disappointed with the “one size fits all” approach I am being offered after a mastectomy that showed no cancer in the lymph nodes taken or in the blood.

I have chosen my door. Thriver. Because thriving is something I can do now.

I don’t want to survive. I don’t want to wait 5 years, or 7 years, or 10 years to be pronounced cured of cancer. I know myself well enough to know that I won’t do well with a finish line way out there. And, if I follow through on the treatment offered me, I may very well be dragging myself – prostrate – across that finish line. Read more

Pin It

Eenie, meenie, miney moe. Pathology report, here we go. Anatomy of a decision.

Eeinie, meenie, miney moe. Pathology report, here we go. Surviving breast cancer.

 

“Without adjuvant treatment local regional progression, distant spread and death are risks.”

What would you do?

My breast surgeon was expecting to find a 3.5 cm tumor – but found a 4.8 cm tumor instead. Pathology later uncovered an additional 2 cm tumor – hidden in the dense breast tissue that she removed. No indication in any of the many imaging tests prepared us for either surprise.

Sentinel lymph node report, clear of cancer. Nine additional lymph nodes clear of cancer. Blood also clear of cancer.

My surgeon said I’d made the right call to go for the complete mastectomy with no nipple sparing as the tumor was irregular in shape and attached to my nipple. (Imaging tests had indicated that I was a candidate for a lumpectomy with radiation. Hmmm.)

Good news so far, right? Always nice when I make a good decision and God knows this was not an easy one. (See Kiss My Breast Good-bye.)

It appears, however, that my life and death, decision-making muscle is being put to the test once again. Seems I have no clean margins. Or, in doctor-speak, margins of the tissue removed from my breast test positive for cancer.

So, though the cancer party-crasher stayed local and never left the house, it played to the edges of the walls that contained it. Doctors don’t like dirty walls. I get that. Read more

Pin It