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“Surround yourself with anything that represents ‘life’ to you.”
During one of Janet’s routine mammograms a suspicious spot was found that would forever change her life. It was cancer. After meeting with her surgeon, they decided that the next step was a mastectomy. The oncologist suggested treating this cancer aggressively, with chemotherapy starting just two weeks later.
Before the first chemo treatment Janet went through a two hour class with oncology nurses. She found that class was extremely helpful and would recommend It to anyone who was about to go through treatment.
Janet had a great experience at the Henry Ford Health Center in Fairlane. She had chemo every third Friday for about 4 hours each time. Then, every Saturday following chemo, she went to the Emergency.. Then, every Saturday following chemo, she went to the Emergency Room to receive an injection of Neulasta. Janet, who became a bit of what she describes as “a germ freak” was impressed with the oncology wing at the ER for chemo patients who need care on the weekends. She was impressed with the seclusion because she did everything she could to prevent getting sick and setting back her treatment schedule.
During chemo Janet, like most cancer patients, lost all the hair on her body. She said, “as a society we put so much importance on hair. We think it defines us.”
After chemo, Janet’s hair started to grow back curly and white and she is currently on tamoxifen experiencing severe hot flashes, a common side effect.
She was supported by her beloved family, consisting of her son, daughter, and a loving husband. Her husband, “is the most amazing man in the entire world. He took excellent care of me and even came home for his lunch break to help me,” she said. Cancer can take a lot out of you. Janet recalled times when she could barely pick her head up to eat soup and he was always there to help.
During her journey, Janet was quickly able to sort out who her true friends were. Someone once told her that the person with cancer makes others face their own mortality and they oftentimes cannot deal with it. She felt distant from some friends but on the other hand, she grew closer to others and learned who the people were in her life that she could depend on.
Janet, who will be 50 in a few months, admits that her golf game has improved since her mastectomy. She opted not to get reconstructive surgery and wears a prosthetic. She golfs without the prosthetic because it stops your swing. “There is life after cancer. There are new ‘normals’ to find. Stop trying to get back to the person you used to be; you are a new and better person now.”
Janet’s tips to others:
- There is a camisole that holds your drainage tube. This would have made my life a little simpler.
- Change your perfume and body wash before chemo. You do not want that lovely smell to remind you of your chemo days.
- Take pictures. You may think you do not want to remember yourself bald and sick but you will appreciate the pictures.
- Advice to family and friends: Never say, “You’re going to be fine”.
- Remind your loved one of God’s love and that He will be with them.
- My faith has been challenged throughout this journey and thankfully, I still can say without a doubt, that God is real and in control.