Archive for the ‘Cancerversary’ Category

End of the Tunnel
October 10, 2012

I saw my endocrinologist this morning…this on the heels of an appointment with my primary care physician on Monday. Both went very well as did the visit to my oncologist a few weeks ago. In fact, it appears I didn’t need that thyroid gland anyway. ūüôā He says my synthetic thyroid levels are spot on perfect. My cancer markers are also within the normal range. And, my general health is excellent. I don’t have another medical appointment until January. Well, unless you count the mammogram in a couple of weeks.In just a few days, I will celebrate my 3 year cancerversary. It was shortly after that diagnosis, in 2009, that I began my first blog, Cathy’s Tunnel It was established for the purpose of sharing my journey through the dark and winding tunnel of breast cancer treatment. That, of course, evolved into this blog, Beyond Cathy’s Tunnel when I finally completed my year and a half of treatment. This one has helped me through the struggles of moving from cancer patient to cancer survivor. But, I’m finally there. I have finally reached the stage of cancer survivor – no longer a cancer patient.

I was just looking back through some of my early posts and I am blown away by some of the things I went through. I guess it’s kind of like labor – it erases itself from your memory once it ends. I was so naive going into this. I remember when a PET scan done when I was two treatments into the strongest phase of chemo showed possible thyroid cancer and I had to stop chemo to have my thyroid removed. My greatest concern was that I would have to go back and start chemo over and go through those two treatments over again. That isn’t how it works, thank goodness, but I didn’t know and I was devastated by the possibility. And, I was also concerned about whether or not they would let me wear my hat in surgery or if I was going to have to go in, bald headed. Oh, the memories.

You will never know how much I have appreciated the love, prayers and support of all of you during these difficult years. It has helped to carry me through. But, it’s time now to move on. I’m not dissolving my blogs, but I am ending my regular posts. It has long been my dream to write a book and, it is the pursuit of that dream that will now consume whatever free time I may find for writing. Should something come up that I feel deserves blog publication, I will still do so and those of you who have signed up as followers will receive an email alert notifying you of that post.

And, hopefully, if that book is ever published, it will find an audience just as these blogs have. My sister, Susan, shared this quote with me when I was writing my first blog. She thought it sounded like me. I hope that is true. “She not only saw a light at the end of the tunnel, but she became that light for everyone who knew her.” Anonymous I can’t imagine a greater compliment.

I thought I would share a final photo tribute to the journey through the tunnel. Hope you enjoy. And now, “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined.” Henry David Thoreau


pre-cancer at the ocean

pre-cancer at the ocean

My Race For the Cure Team – First Year

crossing the finish line first year – just barely

40th anniversary dinner at Hunans

at the lake, sans hat

many, many hours clocked in these chairs

last treatment

met Ali from Biggest Loser

celebrating end of chemo at South Padre – back to the ocean

2nd Race for the Cure – Honorary Chair

on scissor lift to spray paint banner

Kelli and Brett’s wedding

enjoying a dance with Ken

dropping the puck at Pink in the Rink

riding the zamboni at Pink in the Rink

zamboni ride, Pink in the Rink, 2011





Labor Day at the Lake 2012
August 31, 2012

Labor Day already? Really? My goodness this summer has flown by. Just getting ready for our annual Labor Day Lake Retreat and looking back over some old photos.

Labor Day at the Lake 2009

Labor Day at the Lake 2010

Labor Day at the Lake 2011

Notice anything? Jackets. Every single year. Jackets. It has been record-breaking heat this week. Temperatures in the 100s. Have a feeling that means no jackets this year and no fire in the fire pit. But, it doesn’t really matter. We always manage to have fun whether it’s hot, cold or somewhere in between. And, we’re really looking forward to it. The down side is – once the week-end is over so is summer. And so is my break from cancer. Next week I will return to the Cancer Center for the first time in nearly 4 months. For the entire summer I have been able to put that part of my life behind me and, for that, I am so thankful.¬†I never once got up on Monday morning and went through a mental checklist of my medical appointments for the week. I seldom thought about cancer. I seldom talked about cancer. But next week I’ll walk through those doors again and will be reminded. In October I have three more appointments scheduled AND will celebrate my 3 year Cancerversary. It’s been a nice break though, having the entire summer off. And, hopefully, once I get through this next series of¬†appointments I’ll find that I don’t have to return until after the first of the year. Cross your fingers.

In the meantime – it’s off to the Lake with Ken, Sue and Ron.¬†YAY!! Enjoy your holiday week-end.


February 5, 2012

My…how time flies. It occurred to me tonight that I posted during last year’s Super Bowl as well, so I went back and checked it out and sure enough…

So, the Super Bowl is on at our house once again, duh…and I’m halfway listening but not paying attention. What else is new. However, I did stop and watch the half time show. It was Madonna, who was popular back when at least a couple of our kids were growing up. Kelli was a little behind that era.¬†Madonna put on a good performance, in my opinion, anyway. I enjoyed it. But, the thing I noticed is that, while the music was the same, you didn’t look at it and think 80’s. It had a younger, trendier¬†look. It was good…but why do we always do that? We are OK with where we’ve been but we tend to deny where we are. Over the years, I have heard so many people, when they hit milestone birthdays, express the opinion that they don’t want to think about it, don’t want to talk about it, don’t want to celebrate it. As for me, when I was approaching my 60th, I decided that I DID want to celebrate it. That was even BC…before cancer. I just thought that it seemed silly to try to deny your age. It’s just a number. And, I was glad that I was here and healthy and ended up having a BIG celebration on the northern California coast with family and friends. It was awesome.

This year, as I find myself staring 65 in the face, I am even more convinced that age is something to celebrate, not deny. Thanks to cancer, I probably look¬†more my age¬†now than I did at 60 but, whatever. I have sunk to rock bottom and struggled and made it through the tunnel and back to the summit. I don’t care what the number is. I celebrate who I am. I don’t just sing the same song…I admit where I am in the journey. Ken and I will also celebrate 42 years of marriage in April. And that is emphasis on CELEBRATE.

Life is a journey for all of us. The number increases by one with each year that goes by – for everybody. It’s silly to pretend otherwise. In the end, life is what you do with it…what you make of it. ¬†I have learned to appreciate and to celebrate every day that I have. And I intend to¬†continue doing¬†just that. It’s liberating!

So, as I count down the days to my next Cancer Center follow-up, I am also beginning to plan my birthday celebration. Looking forward to both.


Moving On
October 23, 2011

Coming home from church today, it occurred to me…

I no longer feel like “Cancer Girl”. Perhaps for the first time in two years, I don’t feel like I am defined by my illness. Maybe it was the celebration of my 2 year Cancerversary last night…the celebration of survival and the saying goodby to the fear and uncertainty of the past two years.

Or, maybe it was joining in with a great group of people to serve lunch at church today, just like old times. We worked together, talked together and laughed together, with no thought of cancer or chemo.

I really believe that I am finally moving on. I realize that cancer will probably never be completely behind me. For example, this Wednesday, I have an appointment with my endocrinologist at 8:15 and a mammogram at Mercy at 9:30. But, immediately following, I will be packing and we will head for Colorado that afternoon. In fact, I am already working toward that goal. I wrapped gifts this afternoon (Ken, Sara and Tyler all have birthdays within a week of each other.) I am also getting one of my bags ready this afternoon and this week-end, I accomplished some of the baking I want to do for the trip. Baking? It’s been awhile since that was a part of my vocabulary.

I am finally moving on. I can’t explain it, but I do feel different today. I feel hopeful, I feel positive and I am excited…about the upcoming trip, about my future and about life. Thanks to all of you who have helped me to get to this point.


In Remembrance…
October 22, 2011


October 22, 2009 – October 22, 2011

In celebration of my 2nd Cancerversary


Chicken Oscar w/chopped shrimp and asparagus for two

Garlic roasted new potatoes

Bottle of fine French wine to share Рserved in pink-stemmed glasses




Come grow old with me…

the best is yet to be!



2nd Cancerversary
October 19, 2011

Two years ago this coming Saturday is a day that will forever live in my memory.

I had taken the day off work for some routine medical tests at Mercy as part of my new patient work-up for Dr. Lucke. I was scheduled for a bone density test, an x-ray, a mammogram and a colonoscopy.

By the end of that day I had joined the ranks of the more than 1 million people who are diagnosed with breast cancer every year. They  had determined that before I had even finished all of my tests. Ken was told that I had cancer while I was waiting to be wheeled in for a colonoscopy. He had to then, turn around and break the news to me later that afternoon. The sedation they had given me for the colonoscopy left me basically asleep for hours. He woke me around 3:30 to tell me the news. We had to be back at Mercy at 4:00 to meet with the doctor.

Thus¬†began the whirlwind of the unbelievable past two years…surgeries, emotional roller coasters, fears, treatments, pain, sickness, loss of hair, diagnostic procedures, uncertainties, and a host of other life-changing ¬†experiences that I had¬†not been expecting.¬†¬†A cancer diagnosis immediately feels like a death sentence so, in a way, it seems strange that anyone would celebrate that day. Yet we do. Why? According to the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship¬†(NCCS), ‚Äú‚Ķfrom the moment of diagnosis and for the balance of life, an individual diagnosed with cancer is a survivor.‚Ä̬† The celebration is not about being diagnosed with cancer, it‚Äôs about surviving cancer.¬†

Here I am two years later, doing well. On my second Cancerversary we still have much ahead of us…seemingly perpetual¬†uncertainty, some apprehension, additional diagnostic procedures,¬†the unknown. But on Saturday, we will celebrate life…hope…healing. I have much to be thankful for – fabulous doctors, wonderfully supportive friends and family, life-saving medical advances and a husband who has been there every step of the way…including that first moment of terror. I will raise my glass to him and he to me. We will reflect on the past and plan for the future. Saturday, October 22, 2011…my second Cancerversary.


October 2, 2011

I was writing some checks today when it hit me…it’s October again. In just 20 days I will celebrate my second Cancerversary. I can hardly believe it has been two years since I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. Yet, so much has happened in those two years. I realize that in order to move forward you have to look ahead rather than behind. However, what has happened in my life during the past two years has had¬†a¬†profound¬†impact on who I am today. I’m a very different person today than I was on October 22, 2009. That’s not a bad thing. But, while acknowledging my past, I truly am looking forward. It seems like there have been so many times since I finished chemo back in February, that I have thought this is it…I am now going to¬†reach that point in my¬†survivorship where I don’t live this on a daily basis and only show up at the Cancer Center for occasional follow-ups, etc. That point where this cancer journey will begin to dissolve into a part of my past. But, for whatever reason, I have just not been able to reach that point yet.

In looking forward, however, I have now scoped out the timeframe for when I may reach that point once and for all. There are just some hurdles I have to get over first.

Tuesday, October 4. – the day I meet with the Eye Specialist to hopefully discover why my eyesight is deteriorating so rapidly, and, even more hopefully, to find out what they are going to be able to do about it. I would just be kidding myself and you if I said that I am unconcerned about this. In fact, I’m more than concerned. I’m downright afraid. Need to get that behind me.

Saturday, October 15 – Pink in the Rink –¬†Not a hurdle, just a milestone. That is the night of the Komen¬†fundraiser at the Sioux City Musketeers hockey game and I have been invited to be one of the survivors who will ride around the ice on the zamboni.

Wednesday, October 26 – meet with the endocrinologist at the Dunes followed by a mammogram at Mercy. Following those appointments, we will offer ourselves a diversion. Ken’s fall break begins that day so we are planning to head to Colorado for a long week-end with our kids. It will also be our first chance to see our oldest grandson since last July. He is living with Kelli and Brett this year and knee deep in his senior year at Englewood High School. Looking forward to the trip.

November will bring a PET scan the week of the 21st to once again attempt to discover (or to rule out) the cause of the unexplained weight loss followed by visits to both my primary care physician and my oncologist on November 30. At that time, I will find out the results of the PET scan.

That, of course, is not factoring in any future eye appointments, but it looks to me like, by the holidays, I may well have hurdled everything in my path and may actually be on my way to finally being able to move forward. That is my hope, my prayer and my belief.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. But I don’t need a special month to be aware of it. For me, I’m looking for this October to be the beginning of the end of my acute cancer awareness. I’ll start with getting through Tuesday.