Kat and Ali 12-28-17

They say there are no accidents in life. Especially when it comes to meeting people.

In 2014 I walked in to CPMC in San Francisco. I was scheduled for my chemotherapy treatment. That morning I prayed for an angel to come in to my life that would speak hope in to my life. It’s no secret my life in SF was rather tumultuous with my ex. Standing next to me while waiting for the elevator was a gentleman. We struck up a conversation. As it turned out he was a pastor from Vallejo. His wife had just had open heart surgery. His name is Ali. We have been friends ever since. Ali has blessed my life so much with his prayers, encouragement and support throughout the past few years.

That day Ali asked me if I would stop and see his wife Kat that week. He felt it would cheer her up. I made it a point to go visit Kat that week. She was very sick the day I went and was so down. I have never seen Ali or Kat since that day three years ago however we remain in contact via phone and text.

Today my calendar reminded me it was Kats birthday so I texted her a birthday message. Much to my surprise I received a call from Kat. She was crying. She called to thank me. Not only for remembering her birthday but for stopping to see her that day three years ago. Kat shared that I’m always saying what a blessing they are in my life but I have failed to recognize the blessing I have been in theirs. Kat told me the day I went to see her the doctor had just told her they found a blockage and would have to perform another surgery. She was so sad. She told me that my voice and smile lifted her spirits and after I left her doctors told her the blockage was gone and she would not need another surgery. She said she often forgets my name but has never forgotten my voice or smile and the miracle I brought in her life that day. I had no idea. Her words to me were “you always say Ali and I are a blessing in your life but you really were a blessing in our life that day. I will never forget you. I wanted you to know that”.

Wow! I had no idea. I was very touched to hear her story. Even more so to know I somehow made a difference while in one of the greatest challenges in my own life.

The moral of the story is you never know whose life you’re going to bless. Strive to be a blessing for others. You may not see it today but one day you will discover that somehow you made a difference.

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In It To Win It 7-30/16

I posted this on Facebook two years ago while I was fighting breast cancer. I’m blogging this post for those of you who are fighting breast cancer today. It has been a long two years for me. The side effects from chemo are still lingering. The fight has taken so much out of me and changed my life in so many ways. I’m tired and overcoming not only the side effects but the depression that came along with the challenge of chemo therapy, radiation, infusions, hormone blockers and a genetic mutation that causes many types of cancer. I was in it to win it two years ago.  This past two years I’ve overcome breast cancer, pre-colon cancer, skin cancer, neuropathy, the loss of my toe nails and fingernails, the loss of my hair, a breakup, my dignity and self respect. I’ve been verbally attacked and received not the most positive support.  I still have lymphodema, osteoporosis, my muscles and joints still hurt, I battle an auto-immune disease every day but I’m still in it and I’m winning it every day. 

Cancer has a way with treating everyone different. For some, their experience is easy, for others not so much. Be mindful of anyone fighting cancer. If you’ve never walked in their shoes please treat them with respect. Be empathetic and show your support. I haven’t received the best support. In fact I’ve been vilified by certain family members and others I held in high regard. I’ve even been compared to others whose experience with cancer was not the same as mine. Theirs was easy therefore my fight has been labeled “fake” I can only wish it was. I’ve met women who beat cancer one year and were fighting lung cancer, ovarian cancer or cervical cancer the next. Then there are the ones who fight hard and don’t make it. Do not judge anyone’s fight based on the fight of others. Everyone’s battle is different but what is the same is this nasty disease called cancer. In my opinion, cancer sucks. It’s changed my life in so many ways, both in a positive and negative way. My experience is my own. Everyone’s experience is there own too. So today, for those who have judged me or others, treated me or others poorly and hurt us in so many ways, here’s what I have to say. Be careful how you treat those fighting cancer. You never know when it may be you walking in their shoes. Cancer doesn’t care who you are, where you live or how much money you have. When you’re tagged…you’re it. Cancer is real and comes knocking when you least expect it and when it does you better be “in it to win it”

My post two years ago:

I made it back to San Francisco yesterday. I made it home to the familiar sounds of the crowds cheering for the SF Giants at the ball park across the street, cars honking, the hustle and bustle of the crowds downstairs and I thought how nice it was to be at home w my mom. The peace, quiet and serenity of just being home. The trip really wiped me out. I had a doctors appointment today. I had to have my blood drawn, my vitals checked and meet with my oncologist. While I was waiting I met a gal named Amanda. She was battling breast cancer. She is a Stage 1 and I’m a stage 1A. We are both going through the same treatment however our side effects differed. For one, she didn’t lose her hair until the second  or third treatment,  however she lost the feeling to her toes and fingers and has experienced leg swelling. Side effects I haven’t experienced yet, thank goodness. I met with my oncologist. She told me that she had chosen a very aggressive treatment for me because she wants to make sure she kills the cancer so I don’t have to go through this again. She also shared that while chemo is chemo, everyone’s experience is different. I thought this was interesting because I’ve met so many women and have had the opportunity to hear their story. A lot of women who are in their 20’s, 30’s & 40’s. We all have breast cancer. We are all fighting the disease but while our treatment is the same, our side effects are different. The experience is different. Before I began treatment I read several books that in truth scared me to death. I finally stopped reading them. I thought my oncologists interpretation today was spot on. I don’t mind sharing my journey in the hopes that it will be a wealth of encouragement if god forbid anyone finds themselves facing the same challenge. My advice is keep your mind open and remember that while others may experience one thing your experience will be different. What is the same is the disease. Keep fighting and never give up. The road may be hard but the end result is it’s beatable so be in it to win it. I’m taking a break from chemo for a couple of weeks to get my strength back. I’m going to use the time to eat healthy, rest and get my strength back so I can get through the next four treatments as a fighter. I’m in it to win it!! Going home was a good thing for me. Not everything went as planned but what it did give me is the motivation and determination to fight again.

I’m Still Standing 4-6-16

Dear Ron

On April 10th, 2014 I received the dreaded call no woman wants to get. I’ll never forget the words I heard that day. “I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but you have cancer”. I had a wave of fear come over me. I was in shock. I was at work that day. I called you after I hung up the phone to tell you. The support I received from you was not what I expected. You were heartless and very insensitive. Typical behavior of the cruel man I came to know.  I cried the entire walk home. 

I had to be at a consultation at 3:00 that afternoon. You offered to drive me and even attended the consultation with me. Unfortunately, rather than being the supportive partner I needed that day, you chose to bring all your bills and spent the entire consultation writing out your checks and paying your bills. I don’t remember much of what the cancer coordinator had to say that day but I do remember the lack of empathy you exuded that day. When we got in the car I began to cry. Your comforting words to me were “stop being a drama queen”. This became your mantra for the next year as I battled one of the toughest fights of my life. 

That May we met with my oncologist who shared the results of my oncotype test. She explained I had an aggressive type of cancer that would require and aggressive treatment. The treatment would include chemotherapy, radiation and infusions. She was adamant I had to begin treatment right away. Again, the empathy you displayed would leave many to believe you were a cruel and very insensitive man. And you were. Your concern wasn’t my health, rather you were more concerned about how my treatment would affect our trip to Maui that August. My oncologist was so frustrated with you she finally said “we will cross that bridge when we get there”. Of course our vacation became your concern as I battled three grueling chemotherapy treatments. We took that trip and I returned to endure three more grueling treatments with you by my side. I’m not sure which was worse. You or chemo but if I had to choose, I’d call it a tie. 

I’m sure you recall your behavior my first treatment. Despite being sick you insulted me by telling me I needed to do something with myself. Your comment still rings in my ear. “You look haggard!”  And let’s not forget my trip to the hospital. Wow!  I’ve never met anyone so cruel and insensitive like you. 

For one year rather than show any kind of support or even encouragement, you chose to abuse me, cheat on me, call me names and treat me like a piece of dirt. Your excuse was “I was unattractive!”  I will never forget how you treated me. No woman or man deserves to be treated the way you treated me when I was sick and fighting cancer.  

I had a mammogram today. Ironically it is two years to the day I had the mammogram that changed my life forever. For the first time in two years I’m happy to report there was no sign of breast cancer. It doesn’t exempt me from all the other tests I had to endure today for other types of cancer but I take solace knowing that just for today I’m breast cancer free. 

As I look back on the past two years fighting this disease I can’t help but remember the many days and nights I spent on my knees praying for strength to endure the battle I found myself in. I certainly will never forget the pain and suffering you put me through as I fought this grueling battle either. But as I ponder your insensitive, cruel behavior I take pride in myself knowing that while you and cancer may have kicked my ass, I’m above ground today and I’m still standing. I’m one strong lady!!!  A force to be reckoned with. 

I sat in the waiting room at the cancer unit today. My heart went out to all the patients I saw battling cancer. Their bald heads, the glared eyes and the suffering they were enduring was just a reminder how far I’ve come. However, the difference in the people I saw today was they all had a supportive partner. I wished I had been so lucky. 

Karma has a way with coming back to us in some way. I suspect you will not be exempt from being the receiver of exactly what you put out. And when karma comes knocking on your door, and it will, it’s my guess you won’t last one week walking in my shoes because as fate would have it, unlike you, the good lord blessed me with the gift of strength and perseverance.  Thank god for that! 

Despite the suffering I endured with you at the helm, I’m not angry. Hurt but not angry. Rather, I view the experience as a learning experience. It taught me the meaning of strength, empathy and compassion. As I close this chapter and close the door to the nightmare I experienced these past two years, I find myself beginning a new chapter. A chapter that I intend to fill with love, peace and happiness. And if cancer comes my way in the days ahead, I have faith I will rise above that battle with a smile on my face and the confidence I can get through anything.  But more importantly, this new chapter comes with a goal to ensure that no one fighting cancer will ever have to endure what I did. I’ll share my story and one day the crappy story I lived with you will be the story that will bring hope and inspiration to many throughout the world. God never wastes a bad story without turning it in to something good. I pray my story helps many. It’s my guess it will. 

I wish you the best and pray you get exactly what you’ve got coming to you. However, I pray it isn’t cancer.  I don’t wish cancer on anyone, including you. You’ve managed to get away with a lot all your life. You may even think you’ve won but there’s one battle you haven’t faced……yet!!! It’s the battle you will be facing with God. Now that’s a battle you’re sure to come out at the losing end. So you take care of yourself. Thanks for the good times but more importantly thanks for the bad times. You taught me something very valuable. The importance of how to treat others and the faith to believe in myself. I can get through anything with God by my side. Thank god for that!!!  God bless you Ron and like the song I’ve included on this blog today…..I’m still standing!! I don’t know about you but despite all my trials, if you ask me, I may still be a little haggard, who wouldn’t be? But I think I look pretty darn good standing. 

Love

Velma

  

Dear Cancer

Dear Cancer

I’m writing this letter because I think it’s time we go our separate ways. I know this comes as a surprise, after all you’ve been stalking me for the past 4 years as we’ve shared something in common…..my breast! Don’t take it personal. It’s not you, it’s me. We just don’t have anything in common. We don’t share the same goals. I have a life to live. A life filled with peace, love and happiness. A life surrounded by the people I love. I still have so many things to do. Places to travel to, life experiences to experience and 3 wonderful children I’d like to see grow old. I want to experience grandkids. I want to help others. Inspire others. As you can see, my life doesn’t have room for stalkers and bullies like you that bring so much havoc in to my life and the lives of others. You need to go away and stay away!

I’ve been trying to get rid of you since April. Have a clue. I rolled out the big guns in June and began slowly but surely poisoning you with chemotherapy. Fighting me every step of the way, you’ve not only put up a good fight but you’ve brought me to my knees. You’ve proved to be my toughest challenger yet. But I’m not done yet. Today will be my last poisonous attack on you and while my tactic has been hard on me and has kicked my ass, I’ve taken solace knowing it’s been kicking your ass too!!! I have a year of attacks up my sleeve. My advice is roll out the sunscreen, you’re going to need it. If the poison hasn’t got you radiation and Herceptin certainly will. I am prepared to fight you every step of the way until you finally succumb to leaving and never coming back. I should probably mention I’m not alone. No Siree! I’ve got myself a partner. His name is Jesus and last I checked he’s a heck of a lot stronger than you’ll ever be. So let’s agree to part ways. It’s over between you and me.

Today is Halloween. My character to strive to be will be Superman as I prepare to get in the ring to engage in yet another round of fighting you. In the words of Mohammed Ali “I’m lean, I’m mean and I’m a fighting machine!” That’s right!! This “superwoman” is coming to get you. It ain’t over until the fat lady sings and before this year is over, the bells will be ringing and the fat lady will be singing my song of victory as I finally know I’ve beat you and you’ve gone away.

Thanks for the memories. It’s been real. I’m becoming a better person and stronger person for it!! When this fight is over you’ll know you messed with the wrong bitch!!!! But don’t worry, I won’t forget you as I’ll carry the scars of all the battle wounds you’ve left behind as a reminder that I never want you back.

Take Care

Velma D

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