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Beyond Words: Surviving Breast Cancer Mistakes and All

about where the additional money would come from when it came time to purchase
special clothing, a much-needed wig, or life-enhancing drugs.
In addition, to my family, I want to acknowledge two very special friends from church.
To Jody, who assisted me every step of the way as I went through this anguish. She
unselfishly called or came by to see how I was doing while offering encouragement and
hope. Her knowledge and experience with hospice was a great comfort and resource. I
could tell her what I thought and how I felt without being embarrassed. She empowered
me when she stated, ―There is no such thing as a wrong feeling or a stupid question.‖
Whatever feelings I experienced were right for me ―at that time.‖ And in being reassured
—I could be truthful to myself.
To Sister Maureen, who brought me Holy Communion most every week while I was
hospitalized. She knew how much my faith meant to me and was always available to pray
with me or to just talk. She encouraged me to record my thoughts and feelings and gave
me a journal in which to do so.
To my coworkers, who donated sick time when my hours ran out (it didn’t take long to
go through four-hundred-plus hours). To be guaranteed a check each week was one less
burden for Michael and me to contend with as the bills piled up. (Too bad there can’t be a
time-out on bills while there is a time-out on living.)
To the members of my parish who delivered meals to my home each evening during the
first weeks of my recovery.
To the people I didn’t personally know, but who kept me in their prayers. These included
a prayer group in Detroit, an Indian prayer lodge in Arizona, and a local Buddhist
Temple. I firmly believe in the power of prayer and sincerely appreciate the numerous
prayer chains and novenas offered on my behalf. And, to leave no stone unturned, added
to this mix of petitions was an Indian power shield that my friend, Nancy, gave me. In
Native American culture, a power shield is used to help promote and protect a person’s
good health and serenity. I consider all beliefs and intentions worthy of consideration.
Last but not least, I want to thank my husband, Michael. No matter what written words I
use to describe all he did for me, it wouldn’t come close to the truth. He was my constant
in a world that suddenly changed. He was my provider and my motivator. He literally
saved my life, and if not for him, there would be no story. For without him, there would
be no me.
These are just some of the ways in which my family, friends, and coworkers offered me
their love and support. Their help made all the difference, and I achieved what I did
because of them. A strong team is essential in any battle, and cancer is no different.
It is my wish that in reading this story you will find solutions where there are questions,
encouragement where there is doubt, and hope where there is hopelessness. You are not
alone.
PROLOGUE
When I am asked to talk about my experience with cancer, I’m never quite sure where the
story begins. It seems a lifetime ago that I was fighting for my very existence. Many
times I wonder how it all happened. I was forty-eight-years-old and going through life
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