I had no inkling that I was about to take a journey that I did not want to take! Over the years, I had many friends and acquaintances who had breast cancer. I was not really close to any of them, so I always tried to distance myself from them. I really did not understand anything about breast cancer. I had always had mammograms and they were always negative. The last couple times, the doctor did have extra images taken, but they always came back negative. So I went about my life assuming that would always be the case. Well, we all know what the definition of “ASSUME” is. It makes an ASS out of U and Me. This time it made an ASS out of ME!
Our nightmare started in 2013, even though we did not know it at the time. My husband had kidney, colon, and liver cancer in 2010. We spent that whole year with me working every spare minute as he went through cancer treatments. He was diagnosed in June of 2010. He was in treatment for 13 months. Two days after he finished Chemo his company fired him! He was 68 at the time, and too weak and too upset to find another job. Over the next few months, we fell behind on our house payments, and ended up in a situation where we were going to lose our house. I had never seen my husband cry, but the stress of our situation completely broke him. He felt worthless and as if he was not providing for his family. I could not stand the position we had been put in. So I took his hand and said, “Honey, where do you want to move to?” We had very little time to make a decision, and we had to have a plan. He looked at me and said, “I have always wanted to live by the beach!” So I squeezed his hand, looked him in the eyes, and said,”Well, then, we will get out of this house and move to the beach!”
We moved from plan to motion. We bought ourselves some time, but it was only equivalent to about 2 months. We called a realtor and started the process of cleaning out our house. This was an absolute nightmare! We had lived in the same house for 35 years, and had never done a real clean-out. Our house was almost 3000 square feet, and was packed to the brim. We had no idea how hard this was going to be. In 2011, about the time my husband finished chemo, i got where I could hardly walk and could not breathe. I put off going to the doctor for 6 days. One night it got so bad I finally decided it was time to go to Urgent Care. I ended up having a blood clot behind my left knee and 19 pulmonary embolisms in my lungs. I was extremely lucky they had not killed me. 200,000 people a year die from pulmonary embolisms! I did not know that! Matter of fact, I knew nothing of pulmonary embolisms until it happened to me. Much the same with Cancer! So during this time, I was dealing with blood clots and I had also developed Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Both of these caused me to be very sick every single day, but we had to get out of this house! I had to push myself beyond all limits. I could not put all of this on my husband and son. So I pushed every single day, no matter how bad I felt or how sick I was.
Over the next three months, my husband, my son and myself worked approximately 15 hours a day shoveling out! I don’t think we had ever thrown away a magazine or a piece of paper! I was getting exhausted and had pushed myself way beyond anything I could have imagined. I continued to spiral downward, and the clean-out got harder and harder. I was barely keeping my head above water. I am not going to go into too much detail here because it is a very long story, but I just wanted to give some back story. Maybe later on I will elaborate on this, but for now I want to get to the CANCER!!
We were right in the thick of things in October. I was scheduled for my every other year mammogram. However, I was very sick, extremely exhausted and basically not doing well. Also, time was ticking down, and I just felt like I could not take the time to go in for this appointment. So I cancelled it. I promised I would re-schedule after we got moved. October was a horrific month. On October 14th, I almost died from an accidental drug overdose. Again, this is another story for another time. I spent 24 hours in the hospital and the next 4 days very ill from the side effects. We had movers coming and just about everything went to hell in a handbasket!! We somehow managed to get through October, November, and December with a tremendous amount of pressure and tears! We finally pulled out of the driveway of our house on December 26th for the last time. We did not even decorate or celebrate Christmas that year. On top of everything else, I was extremely depressed and very upset about the move and the loss of our house.
We had moved from the San Francisco Bay Area down to the Santa Cruz Area. We found a house to rent, but it was only about half the size of our original house. With all the crap we went through to get out of that house, we still had tons of stuff to deal with. In the end, we just started throwing everything in boxes and sealing them. There was not even time to label them. So when we got to our rented house in the Santa Cruz area, there were boxes EVERYWHERE!! My husband and I were totally exhausted! We could hardly move for the next few days. We hurt all over and were physically and mentally exhausted. We decided that we were going to take the next few months off and just go to the beach everyday, hoping this would help build our reserves back up so we could face the mountains of boxes. And that is exactly what we did. The weather in January and February was absolutely gorgeous in 2014. The weather and the beach constantly called to us. We were soooooo happy to live just a few minutes from two of the most gorgeous beaches in Santa Cruz. We spent many hours at Rio Del Mar Beach and Capitola Beach. Everything was almost perfect! Well, until we walked in the door every night and saw the mountain of boxes.
Finally, by March we decided we should start scheduling all of the health appointments we had put off. My husband had scans every three months to check on his cancer remission. We had also put those off during our move. We actually had about 12 different appointments that we needed to make. So I called and started scheduling appointments. We had health appointments, dental appointments, hearing appointments and eyeglass appointments. We really did not want to dedicate all the time needed for these appointments, but we had put them off long enough! We also knew that we needed to start dealing with the BOXES! We had unpacked only the bare minimum that we needed to cook and bathe and everything else that is absolutely necessary. But that was it.
My mammogram was scheduled for April 4th. By the time I got around to calling for the appointments, most of them were at least three weeks out. Since neither of us were working yet, we decided to take what we could when we could. If something came up, we could always cancel and re-schedule.