Monday, April 5, 2010

The Cancer Road. Just Peach.

A couple days after getting my breast cancer diagnosis, I drove about two hours to attend a meeting for female ministers living in eastern North Carolina.

I was, of course, still a bit emotional and shell shocked from my news and, of course, I shared it with the other women who had gathered. Imagine my delight when one of the women said to me, “Well, I had that same diagnosis a year ago and I got my radiation done at a clinic on the Outer Banks. I highly recommend it; the facility and people were wonderful.”

Now you have to realize that just the day before, I had driven by that very clinic she mentioned and noticed that it offered radiation therapy. I thought to myself, “Well, that’s probably going to be the closest place for me to go, but who knows whether it’s any good or not?”’

What a timely turn of events to get up the very next morning and have my question answered! There’s nothing quite as reassuring as getting a recommendation from someone who has “been there, done that.”

I took a few pictures that morning because the place where we met was so quaint and beautiful. (Half of the building was set up for a wedding reception; the other half was the public eating area.) If you live near Plymouth, NC, be sure to check it out.

minister's wives brunch

Speaking of radiation and cancer treatment in general, I got a couple comments from people who were a bit surprised that I’d had my MRI done in a trailer.

IMG_3089

Actually, every single MRI that Sarah has ever had at Duke was done in a trailer, similar to the one you see in the picture. So although it is probably a bit “alarming” if you’re not used to seeing it, we’re aware of a good number of hospitals/medical facilities that use these specially built/equipped trailers just for that purpose.

And as much as I appreciate MRI technology, if I never have to see another MRI machine as long as I live, I would be a very happy woman!

As for what the next stop is for us on the Cancer Road:

Tomorrow, Steve and I (accompanied by Sarah, since she’s out of school this week), will drive to Greenville yet again to get the results of the MRI. To me, this appointment is almost as scary as the actual diagnosis because we will be getting a much clearer picture of what we’re dealing with and what the treatment will consist of.

As I wrote earlier, around 20% of patients who are diagnosed with cancer that is “contained” are found (through an MRI) to have cancer in other areas of the breast(s) as well. So we’ll meet with the breast surgeon/oncologist first to hear the results and then (depending on what the results are and what treatment we’re leaning toward) we will go on to meet with the plastic surgeon afterwards.

Do I know how to have a good time, or what? Sigh.

Speaking of surgery, right this very minute Nathan’s girlfriend, Meagan is in the operating room having major surgery. Although I’m not completely clear on all the specifics, she has a condition having to do with the alignment of her jaw that, if not repaired, will cause major problems for her down the road. After the surgery, she will be in the hospital a couple days and when she gets home, she can only have liquids for 4-6 weeks. If you think about it, keep her in your prayers. Even though the surgery was not unexpected, it’s still a traumatic thing to have to go through.

Here’s one of my favorite shots of Meagan and Nathan.

IMG_7034

In other news, we are getting perilously close to The Panic Button Pushing Point concerning the sale of our house. (We just thought we were near it before.) As I mentioned before, if we have a contract on our house by April 30, we will receive a $6500 rebate. Also, selling the house will free us from double house payments, double power bill payments, etc.

To make life even more interesting, it appears that 2 HVAC units in our rental home need replacing; it’s been 80 degrees here and our ac unit has been producing little or no cool air. Since we’re dealing with the complexity of renting with an option to buy, we don’t know what (if any) help will be given by owner to replace the (very expensive) units.

And as if we needed anything else to deal with? On the very day of my diagnosis, we got some other bad news that had to do with Sarah’s medical coverage and some other benefits we had been receiving.

So if you’re a praying person, we would appreciate prayers for us as we deal with the stress of this diagnosis and treatment, in addition to the financial complexities we’re working through.

In the meantime, I guess I will just have to get used to glistening. (Remember this point: Ladies glisten. We don’t sweat.) I will also have to get a fan out and gently cool myself like the lovely ladies in the Old South used to do on their front porches. While sipping mint tea. Which I don’t like. (Or maybe they sipped mint juleps? I don’t quite remember my Sipping History.)

Hmmm. I wonder if I can be a true Southerner and not like tea. Probably not.

In closing, I wanted to mention how much I enjoyed all your comments/stories about the Peach Angel story. (Scroll down to read.) It’s one of the things I love most about being a blogger—the interaction between my readers and me, and also the interaction between my readers and each other. So cool.

I also love the fact that your blog comments not only inspire and cheer me, they also make me think. A case in point would be this comment:

Becky, it's a great story. :-)

Could I gently ask a question? Why is race salient in this story? Just speaking as a family of color, I was struck by the need to tell us that he was African American. If he had been say, Caucasian, would you have told us that? Why not, just a man in peach? --Adria

Her comment was followed by a couple of thought-inducing responses:

Adria,

I can't speak for Becky, but when reading a story such as hers, it helps me to visualize the story by such descriptions. It is the way we were taught to write in school here. Adjectives help describe the person. If her story were to become a movie, that would be an important part of casting the role.:) ---Jill

Adria,
I agree with your comment about race, but I thought maybe it was a cultural thing.
I live in Canada, which places a huge emphasis (both in the courts and in schools) on multicultarism and on viewing all people as the same. Since about 1/6 Canadians are an ethnicity other than Caucasian, these "differences" are so common that a persons' skin color is not really thought of as relevant, if that makes any sense.

When I read the description, I thought maybe it was a common part of southern US culture to include a person's ethnicity in a description. (In a writing course I took a few years ago, I was told that in Canadian books an author should never mention a character's ethnicity since that would contradict Canadian norms. BUT if that same book were to be published in the US, that race descriptions should be included because Americans might consider race relevant.)

From Adria once again--

To anonymous person responding to my post, a few thoughts:

I would venture that people of color in Canada don't think their race is irrelevant, or that a multicultural approach does away with differences. In my thinking, multiculturalism holds to a strong view of cultural strengths and differences. It honors the differences, rather than obliterating them.


You could be right about a difference in the U.S. South. Hadn't thought about that.
I get weary sometimes when Caucasians seem to feel it necessary to tell a story that mentions a person's race when it isn't integral to the story. In other words, if I tell a story of Ruby Bridges, her race would be salient. If I tell a story about Michelle Kwan's phenomenal ice-skating abilities, it may not be. If I tell a story of Michelle's family's history, it would fit.


To tell a story of a man who was helpful, as Becky does here, the racial aspect doesn't seem integral to the story at all. If Becky were black and then said, another brother was there to help, that might be different.


I don't know. I just know as a family of color, these things are important to me. --Adria

See what I mean about great interaction? (And I especially appreciate the mood of respect and courtesy present in each of these responses; you guys are wonderful!)

I’ll just briefly add my two cents to the dialogue:

When I was writing the story, I hesitated before using the “African American” description, simply because I realized that its use might be questioned.

However, just a few days previously I had been reading Newsweek magazine and it featured the story of a recently deceased photographer who had covered the Civil Rights movement. The magazine published a few of his better known photos and as I looked at pictures of attack dogs being let loose on peaceful demonstrators, and as I saw pictures of Martin Luther King being dragged into a police station with his wife looking on, I got mad all over again about the abysmal way our country has treated the African American people.

And so when I had that encounter with The Peach Angel I thought, “Maybe I can do a teensy little bit of good here and tell a story that so beautifully illustrates courtesy and kindness between two races.

That was my motivation. No more. No less.

As a couple of you so graciously pointed out, it’s a shame we even have to have race and color delineations. Which is why I guess the best name for the man in my story truly was, “The Peach Angel.”

Not American Indian. Not Asian. Not African American. Not Caucasian.

Not red. Not yellow. Not black. Not white.

Just peach.

14 Had Something To Say (Just click here!):

Anonymous said...

Becky,
How much more can one sweet family go through. Your inspiration inspires me. I know we didn't spend a lot of time together growing up but I feel like through your blog I am now growing older with you (if that makes sense). We also got health benefit bad news this past week, Because of my husband being disabled we have gotten health benefits for also Desiree' and I and we found out we are losing them. So I need to find insurance for us that we can afford and I have many pre-existing conditions that will not be an easy task. But I will not complain, you are going through so much more. Just wanted you to know I read your blog everyday and am praying for you and your family.
Love,
Your cousin Sandy

Haley said...

I thought that it was a great commentary to mankind that "Peach Guy" helped out a stranger of another race. It made me feel good to read that the gentleman was African American, because we read and hear and encounter so much negativity about different races not willing to come to the aid of each other. Amen.

Beverly said...

I was wondering about the MRI machine being in a metal trailer...oh my! (Steven's have always been in a building...hospital, imaging center, etc.) The idea of MRIs and metal being in the same area puts crazy images in my brain!

And I thought your follow up appointment was today...so best wishes for tomorrow!

Anonymous said...

I have never seen an MRI in a trailer either! Must be a regional thing.

Your reasoning behind "peach guy's" description makes complete sense.

I hope all goes well for Meghan today and for you this week. You do have a lot on your plate. We are actually in the process of getting a new HVAC system (new central A/C and gas furnace). This house is 16 years old and we are trying to replace it before it dies. I can't stand a hot house in Florida! Ours will be installed next week, plus some minor duct work. Fun times and $$$! At least there is a $1500 rebate this year...

Will be praying for you and your family as always. Jill

A Mom' Serious Blunder said...

Praying for your specific requests and some added peace as well, which can be hard to come by in times of stress.

Leesa said...

When I read your story about the Peach Angel my first thought when you described the gentleman was "peach would be a good color on Alvin" Shallow? maybe, racist NO. I am caucasian, but I have a much beloved black cousin-in-law that would fabulous in a peach silk shirt! :)

Becky I am praying for your family, things are going to get better soon I am sure of it!

Anonymous said...

Hi Becky --
The surgery that Megan is having sounds very much like the surgery that my niece just had about a month ago. It was definitely major surgery with a very uncomfortable recovery period, especially for the first 2 weeks. My niece was not really in pain but the combination of temporary paralysis and her jaw being wired shut made her very uncomfortable -- unable to speak or eat. I'm happy to report that she is about 4-5 weeks post surgery and eating very well and quite back to normal (despite still being partially wired). The surgery worked well and we can all see the difference in her jaw.
Best to Meghan and to Nathan, who I'm sure will know just how to bring a smile to her swollen face.
GS in Canada

Anonymous said...

The trailer didn't alarm me as much as the yellow looking police tape surrounding it....

Sure will be holding good thoughts for you tomorrow, Becky.

was Meagan's surgery for tmj? will be praying for her, too, of course.

mrs pam

Anonymous said...

Becky, thanks for your explanation about listing the man in peach's race. I actually had wondered if part of your motivation had been to show a black person in a positive light. Sad that we have to even think of that, really, isn't it?

Hope today's results are the best possible options for you!

Adria

Anonymous said...

Leesa, who is Alvin???? Or are you giving him that name?

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