Staying on the Main Line of Life

Oct 20, 2018 | 0 comments

In recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness month, we continue with another excerpt from Ken Wachsberger book, Your Partner Has Breast Cancer: 21 Ways to Keep Sane as a Support Person on Your Journey from Victim to Survivor.

After a quick lunch, Tante, Emily, and I went to the University of Michigan Cancer Center for our first chemo treatment. Tante, a 7 1/2-year survivor herself, came as the voice of experience. She was nonchalant on the outside and laughed as Emily shared stories of what had happened to others on chemo and assured Emily that every situation is different.

Because the post-surgery tests showed Emily’s lymph nodes to be clear, the attitude of the surgeons and their teams is that we most likely have won the battle against cancer. But because cancer cells can and sometimes do bypass the lymph nodes to enter the bloodstream, there is the possibility that some cancer is still in the body. For this reason, some amount of chemo follows almost every operation.

When we had first met with Sofia, our chemo surgeon, the day after Mother’s Day, she had hinted that, because of what she knew so far from Emily’s various tests up to that time, we could anticipate eight treatments. Now, as Emily tensed up for her first treatment, Sofia, who personally drew up Emily’s treatment plan, reported that, because Emily’s test results were good and she’s healing quickly, we’d only have to come in three more times. Sessions are three weeks apart, which means we’ll be done by the middle of August (but then go on Tamoxifen for the next five years).

Emily’s positive assessment is due to her otherwise excellent health and health habits. Nurse Ginny encouraged her to keep them up during and after her treatments. “Sixty percent of women work, maintain energy, walk. Don’t think of yourself as a sick person. This is not a culture of sickness; it’s a culture of wellness. The cancer is just a sideline. Try to stay on the main line of life.”

Tante added her take: “I have cancer; cancer does not have me.”

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About Our Author

Ken Wachsberger