In the fall of 2003, I had an apartment in Oklahoma City where I was working as a contractor. I tested the results of IT (Information Technology - computer) programmer's work. I researched computer issues for the company and wrote reports about the reports of new products and technology and how it might work with their existing products. In other words, I had a stressful job. My daughter had moved to New Mexico to teach and I was still helping her and was paying for her wedding. My son had some addition issues. I had taken some classes in gifted education to try to possibly get a better understanding of my son. Even though the school district never identified him as gifted, many of the professors I had in my masters program told me he was gifted. Somehow in taking the classes this time, I ended up in a doctoral program in gifted education. My class that semester was in Tulsa one night a week. So, I was commuting between Oklahoma City and Tulsa one evening a week plus on the weekend. I was exhausted. My contract and my job with my contact firm abruptly ended the last workday of October. I went to the doctor in November expecting a possible diagnosis of diabetes since it is rampant on both sides of my family. Nope, I can't remember the first part of the appointment. I asked the doctor if he would look at a knot I had on my side. It was right where the breast meets the body. Technicians tell me if it were any farther back, it would be on my back - lol. The doctor said he thought it was scar tissue from a breast reduction. Then the look on his face changed and he immediately said, "I want you to get a mammogram and a biopsy." I knew that I knew that I knew.
A week later I had the mammogram and biopsy on Friday. Monday morning that doctor called and told me I had breast cancer and what surgeon to see. My life was changing.
I had hair to my waist. Not realizing that I was going to have alopecia, I went to the salon and had my hair cut short. Later a friend went with me to a a program sponsored by the American Cancer Society - Look Good Feel Better. The program not only gives you free cosmetics based on your skin coloring but also gives you tips on accessories to draw attention away from the fact that you do not have hair. The program recommends looking the best you can which will also help you feel better.
I had a lumpectomy shortly before Thanksgiving. My brother came from West Virginia and was here with me for a week. My son and brother each were with me for the surgery.
I had my first chemo treatment between Christmas and New Year's Days. My daughter unexpectedly came home to support me through that. A friend and her husband took me to live with them. They already had her mother. Even though the clinic was only about 3 miles from my house, I was too ill to live alone. I lost 12 pounds with my first chemo treatment. Then when I started radiation, I came home to live since it was every day. They lived over 60 miles away. They owned a small family business and co-pastored a church.
Also during that first treatment illness, I knew that I was near death one night. My faith saw me through that ordeal.
In June 2004, I was the person at my daughter's wedding with the least amount of hair. I wanted to just wear a scarf and a hat and she wanted me to wear a wig. Of course, I got a wig. I thought she was going to send me a digital picture that I could post and I haven't received it.
My oncologist and I knew the stage and never discussed percentages or negatives. We just planned for me to be at my daughter's wedding.
Six weeks after my breast cancer diagnosis, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. That was a double whammy!
I went back to work after radiation, married a sweet man who had suffered three strokes. It all became too much. I quit working and eventually quit my doctoral program - two classes and a dissertation short of a PhD. My husband died 17 months ago. I'm involved in two grief programs for widows. Last year for Christmas I knitted twelve dishcloths for the widows in my small widow's group at my church.
I knew what I wanted to do for my one block that I had purposed to do for this hop. Then one of best friend's sister was diagnosed with lung cancer in October. She died on New Year's Eve. I thought about making my friend who is a quilter, a block of support. She is a perfectionist, as I try to be. Her tastes are very different than mine. So, I thought about making a block for her so she could do with it what she wanted with her initial and her sister's initial. I thought about two blocks - one with each initial. I think she's still in shock and dealing with their 80+ year old mother with whom my friend has definite issues. So, I decided to wait.
My original plan and still is - make a block for each letter. Make borders that say
FROM A - Z
I SUPPORT THE GALS
Last month it was announced that our next quilt show - 201, there will be a display of red and white quilts - perfect. My support quilt will be red and white. So, you know why the hanger is not black and everything is red/white. The sashing with either be fabrics from the blocks or RED, RED, RED.
Now, my block.
I had lots of fun making this block and don't know why I put off doing it so long and agonizing about my plan(s). I increased the original pattern by 200% and cut the background at 14" x 14" to allow for shrinkage with all the embroidery. I have not embroidered around the bra yet. I plan to machine embroider around them all at once so I only have to set up the machine once for that process. I imagine all of them will be in shade(s) of red. Maybe I should call this quilt 50 Shades of Red.
Since going into remission, I've had 1/2 a breast reduction (on the non-cancerous side) and another lumpectomy - in the same spot as the first. I still take anti-estrogen oral therapy because I'm high risk for recurrence. I have four wonderful grandchildren that I would not have seen if I had not had the support to fight these challenges. I'm letting my hair grow for my fourth donation to Locks of Love.
I used my Happy Light - light to treat seasonal affective disorder as my light source for my pictures.
After wading through my enormous post, please visit the others sharing today. Great thanks for Madame Samm and Pat for the encouragement for me to try a new pattern and have fun. I agree with Pat that we find a cure for cancer in our life time.
This hop is to support those with any kind of cancer, not just breast cancer. However, I do want to mention that my father-in-law and his only sibling, a brother each had breast cancer. My oncologist told me that does not increase my daughter's risk of having breast cancer. They each died of cancer and not breast cancer.
I was fortunate to have the support of family, friends, and a spiritual faith to sustain through this challenge. Each person's journey is similar and each person's journey is unique.
The We Support You Blog Hop participants for Feb 2nd
Ga's House (you are here)