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First Step to Recovery

April 26, 2009
by Kathleen Mears
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For the second time since I have lived in a nursing home I need to have surgery for cancer. The first time was two years ago when I had a mastectomy. This time breast cancer has recurred in my lymph nodes, which will be removed this week.

I have been to many doctor's appointments in the past couple months. I know that surgery will not get rid of the cancer completely. So I will have to be some type of further treatment of the disease. I am hoping that I will be able to take a pill since that will disrupt my life less than IV chemotherapy or radiation.

In the back of my mind I am planning for future medical appointments. I have talked with the staff and they know that I need someone to go along with me in the ambulette. Some days it can be difficult to find a nurse's aide to go along and luckily one nurse who is a unit manager has offered to go with me any day that she works. I have known her for quite a few years and she does have the ability to make me feel better just by being there. But I am sure that others will be helpful.

I am concerned about the surgery and my ability to recover from it. I will only be in the hospital about 24 hours, if all goes well. But it is still stressful thinking about postoperative pain and my desire to get back to my regular routine as soon as possible.

Cancer is a scary thing and living in a nursing home means that many people know what is going on with me. That is comforting and disquieting at the same time. That is why I have told the staff and others myself. I would rather do that then have them get misinformation elsewhere.

If I wish to talk, there are many people here to talk to. But most of the time, I do not want to talk about it.

I have decided to see a medical oncologist 20 miles away instead of traveling to Columbus. With the communication problems I had with my previous oncologist there, I had to make a change. It will be like starting over, but at least the oncologist will be closer.

I am hoping my overnight stay will be sufficient. I do not like to spend much time in the hospital. It is better to get back here where the nurses and aides are familiar with me and my care routine. They will get me up each day, which will help me keep up my strength and my mental attitude. Also, if I do not get up, I cannot use my desktop computer.

My family, friends, and the staff here are rallying around me. Their kind words and prayers will go along with me into the operating room. But ultimately I am the one that has to muster up the strength to get through it. I have to say, there are many times during the day when I fall into magic thinking and pretend that I am somewhere in a ‘before breast cancer recurrence’ day. I am also trying to rid myself of anxiety before surgery day.

Though I am heading into uncertainty, my plan is to keep writing this blog. If I cannot because I need a little time to heal, I will post something to let everyone know.

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Comments

Kathy,
You are in my prayers.

Good luck, Kathy. We are all hoping you receive great care.

Kathleen Mears

www.ltlmagazine.com/blog/kathleen-mears

Kathleen Mears has been a nursing home resident in Ohio for 20 years. She is an incomplete...