“Two packs a day for the last 30 years.” Looking back, that was my answer to the doctor who asked me over eight years ago “do you smoke.” Since both my parents had died of heart problems, I was more concerned about my heart than my lungs.
Of course, that changed near Valentines Day 2002 when the emergency room doctor at Goshen General Hospital said I had a cancerous tumor pressing on my superior vena cava. That must have been the reason why my skin was gray in color! After hearing the ‘c’ word, I recall telling my friend Donna that I wanted to just “go home.” The doctor told me if I left the hospital I would be dead before evening.
And so began my journey into the world of cancer survivorship. It was late in the day but Dr. Cohen at the cancer center saw me immediately and began my treatment for malignant neo bronchial lung cancer at the age of 44. The doctors and nurses at the cancer center were always there to help along the way. Donna would call the cancer center whenever we had a question about my treatment and if they didn’t know the answer right then, they told her where to find it or called us back with the answer.
For over twelve years now I have been a veterinary receptionist at the White VeterinaryHospital in Goshen. During my treatment, I would open the office every morning and then head for the cancer center for radiation before going back to work. I did that every day until my three weeks of radiation was completed so I could start chemotherapy. After two rounds of chemotherapy I was so sick that we did not proceed with another round. Dr. Bruetman ordered an MRI and it showed that the cancer was gone. I have now been in remission from small cell lung cancer for over eight years!
It’s been a long road to where I am today, but one that I can honestly say has brought me to a good place in my life. My health has been restored by Dr. Bruetman (I love that man) and all the other great people at Goshen Center for Cancer Care. I have learned to not take life for granted but to live every day for all it is worth. I see now that there were many things in life that I was missing. I pray every day that the cancer does not come back and that the day comes when cancer does not exist.
I now serve as a member of the coordinating committee for the new Goshen Cancer Survivor Network and I am hopeful that the things we do will wake people up. I have always used humor to deal with problems, but humor did not work on cancer. It took the amazing doctors at Goshen to do that. I know that I went from being ‘poor pitiful me’ to ‘I have it pretty darn good’ because of the care I received. I still say that life is a circus, always something new coming our way, but life is great today and I intend to do everything I can to keep it that way. I no longer smoke, I eat a lot less meat than I used to, load up on my daily veggies and see Dr. Bruetman for my follow up appointments regularly. Life is good.