During my ‘C journey’, which has essentially been the past year, there has definitely been a journey of varying sized ‘lumps’ (YES, Punn intended, lol) which have been encountered. It is these bumps in life, however, that are there for us to learn from. We must find a path past them and then go back and try to fix them in order to make it better for the next person. When I reflect back over these past fourteen months, I’m just thrilled with how the people around me have stepped in to help make things better for the next person who comes across ‘bumps’ like mine!
Last year, for example, when I realized how many women locally could not afford a wig, mastectomy bra, or other necessities after a breast cancer diagnosis, I mentioned this to my family. My sister Janet and her husband Rick stepped up and organized an amazing charity golf tournament. The proceeds from this tournament have already helped many grateful recipients and the tournament will be now be held annually. Stay tuned to hear about details soon!
Also last year, my sweet Dad witnessed the sad little wire semblance of a stand that he saw which came with my wig from the store and decided it was just not ‘cutting it’. So he handmade one for me on his lathe and I couldn’t believe how perfect it was! He took the idea back to his local Woodturning Guild and they declared it a local community charity project. Since then, they have proceeded over the past year to donate these gorgeous wig stands to My Left Breast as well as to the Canadian Cancer Society’s local Peterborough branch. This past week they did a news story on this project, which made me so incredibly proud! My Dad has taken this difficult event in life, to one where he can pay it forward to others in need:
One of the more recent of those next ‘lumps’ on this journey was the discovery that the ambulance gurney would not fit in the elevator of the condo where I was living in Panama! What an experience that was, being tightly strapped to a hard, flat board and tipped on an angle so that I would fit in the elevator. It was not exactly an experience that I would wish upon anyone! It has since become clearly apparent that this is not just an issue in Panama – it is worldwide! SINCE THEN, I’m thrilled to announce that Rob Brown of Neighbors Helping Neighbors in Panama, has ordered a Stryker 6252 Chair for one of the ambulances in Coronado. This way, if there is someone with a spinal cord ‘injury’ similar to mine, or for whom it is extremely painful for them to lay down for the initial transfer down the elevator, they could say they are in need of this. Needless to say I’m ECSTATIC about this and how quickly Rob jumped into action – way to go Rob and a HUGE thank you!
The most recent obstacle was here in the hospital in Peterborough. The discovery that the Green Stork can only transfer me from my bed to the gurney, but not always further, was a sad awakening. The gurney would then transport me from my room to where I need to go. In this case, I needed to go to the Radiation Bunker, which is directly across the hall from me. I quickly dubbed it the Torture Chamber – not because the radiation itself hurt, but because of the pain it caused me from being moved the way I was.
Each time I went for radiation (five times), it entailed using a ‘slider board’. WIth a slider board, they would slide me using a sheet and move me from the gurney to the slider board – which is a VERY HARD transfer board. Then I would be slid again from there across to the radiation table. These moves would trigger pain that lasted for hours. In addition, there is a ‘no lift policy’ in place within the Radiation unit, so no employee was allowed to lift a patient. Thus, my sister Brenda Warner lead the campaign and said, “well I am not under that policy and I can and WILL lift. This is my SISTER!” By the third treatment, some of Brenda’s nursing colleagues came over and bonded together to do the same 🙂 – help lift, rather than slide me from one table to another. This alleviated the main initial pain that would shoot down my back, spine, and legs for hours and days afterwards.Some colleagues joined her, and by my 5th radiation session, I had a group of protectors to make my transfers painless :-). The treatments themselves were painless, yet the tears streamed down my face due to the painful way I had to be transferred and how still, FLAT and hard the board was.
As a result of these transitions, and my sister and her colleagues standing up for ME, the hospital is looking into alternative ways to set patients up for radiation, patients who have spinal tumours such as mine, which cause so much pain when being moved.
Knowing that changes like the ones that have taken place locally, in Panama and anywhere really are being made for the better, just makes me know that we are doing awesome things – we are paying it forward! :-). As the message on the wall in the photo states: Be the Change You Wish to See in the World!