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cancer

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From: Jean Eger Womack (jeaneger_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Sun Nov 25 2001 - 09:01:11 PST


Judy, thanks for passing on the message from T.S. about her cancer.

I had breast cancer twice. The first, in 1990. They gave me a choice
between lumpectomy and mastectomy. I asked which they recommended and they
did a lumpectomy, radiation, and mild chemotherapy, where my hair did not
fall out. It was very scary. After that, I thought I felt grainyness in my
other breast but they could not find evidence of cancer. Also, they said if
it happened again, they were going to have to cut my breast off.

By the time the second one showed up, ten years later, I was ready and
grateful for a mastectomy. It was hard to deal with my hair all falling
out. And then there was the fear again. The fear is very difficult because
I start to think that every little thing that goes wrong is the cancer
coming back. It was very good for me to do my student teaching six months
after the chemo treatments because it completely took my mind off my
illness, although I was very tired, especially after lunch. My mother had
wanted me to take Vitamin C treatments even thought the doctor had said NO
VITAMIN C, because it is considered to be an alternative (quack) cure, only
for people in advanced terminal stages. So I did not allow her to be with
me during treatment. I found it was very helpful to go online with an
online breast cancer support group. I really needed someone to talk to who
was going through it, not my husband, who was trying out for sainthood at
the time.

What did I get out of all this? I'm still alive and grateful for every day.
I did a lot of art work about the cancer. I have more or less accepted the
passing of my youth and beauty, so I accept that I am old. It sure helps to
accept it, because the kids remind me of it all the time. I'm glad I'm old
because otherwise I'd be dead. I had a list of things I wanted to do and I
got to do some of them. The downside of it all is the feeling of
decrepitness.

The ones who don't survive are the ones who put it off until it is too late,
or who don't get treatment at all. Don't put it off! Follow your doctors'
orders! Staying alive is the most important thing!

Jean Eger Womack in the San Francisco Bay Area

P.S. We just had a big storm here. I had just finished writing a response
to 35 students, Yikes! when the electricity went off for 22 hours and dumped
my letter.

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