When Michele and I decided to venture on this life-changing 3-day journey, one of the first people we thought about, besides mom ;) , is our sweet, loving, thoughtful Aunt Marian. Aunt Marian is our dad's sister. Growing up no one ever hid the fact that Aunt Marian or Grandma had cancer, but I never remember it being discussed either. So when we decided to take this journey, I contacted Aunt Marian to find out "her story."
Last week when Michele and I received "My Journey with Cancer" by Aunt Marian, we had to discuss how more in awe of her we are now than we were before, and let me tell you Aunt Marian has been high on the list of heavenly women list, not to mention, my favorite place to sit growing up was on her lap. Matter of fact, the last time I saw her, I had to see if was still true since my sitter was a little - okay a lot - wider than it used to be.
In "her story," Aunt Marian explained how her gynecologist told Marian to "go home and forget about the lump in her left breast"-the doctor told her it was in her head. UGH! Gratefully, Marian didn't dismiss it and went to see the family doctor, who was very disturbed that the gynecologist brushed her off the way he had.
On Wednesday, March 3, 1965, she went to hospital to have a biopsy, and when the report came back they were 99% sure it wasn't cancer. On Friday, they sent her home to spend the weekend with her husband and 3 sons, ages 12, 11 and 8. She wondered why are they so sweet to send me home to spend time with her family?
On Monday, back at the hospital they told her she should have a radical mastectomy. This is where my amazement of an amazing woman grows. Aunt Marian said she resigned herself to the fact, "It's all in God's Plan for me. I must submit the agony of it all for the love of my husband and 3 sons. Truthfully, I feel everyone else felt sorrier for me than I did for myself. I though of how it could have been, but I knew somebody bigger than you and I had his hand in on it and he would be with me along the way. I had a good husband and 3 precious sons and supporting relatives and friends to give me love and support. I will be forever grateful for that."
Excuse me while I get a tissue-a box that is. I warned you she is heavenly!
Aunt Marian went on to discuss how it took a lot of adjustment to see the outcome of the radical mastectomy, drain tubes, etc. She then states, "But what the heck?, I am here and hopefully, longingly, and prayerfully I would be here to raise our 3 sons."
A week went by, and Aunt Marian tried to wait patiently for the final test report results. A wonderful nurse sensed her anxiousness, and told her "there was no cancer in the lymph nodes." In Aunt Marian style, she replied "HOT DERN! and HALLELUJAH!". The doctor gave her a good report two days, and again Aunt Marian's good nature comes out when she says she realized the doctor's hesitancy even though the nurse had told her two days earlier-her doctor was thorough, kind, and loved what he did. Aunt Marian will, however, always love and be grateful for that nurse.
Aunt Marian goes on to describe her recovery both physically and mentally. She says one of her biggest nuisances was her doctor had her sleep with her arm elevated, so she wouldn't get lymphodema. Aunt Marian creative spirit comes out when she describes how she used "a pole lamp and pinned material to each finger of a glove and secured it in that fashion." She did this for 8 weeks with multiple visits to the doctor to empty her drain. She has complete mobility of her left arm, and again in her heavenly style she states, "Thanks Be To God, for a Wonderful Loving Family and Health Team to make all this possible."
This, however, wasn't Aunt Marian only battle with cancer. In 1998, a mammogram showed calcification in the right breast, and she had two choices: 1) a simple mastectomy or 2) remove the calcification and 6 weeks of radiation. She opted for choice 2 and the only complaint was the radiation made her tired. Again in her heavenly style Aunt Marian gives to the Heavenly Father, the doctors, nurses-both male and female, and all the technicians. She states, "They have touched my life in a very unique way which will never be forgotten. Do sincerely hope I have done likewise and have been very kind appreciative."
When I got this letter, I was surprised to find out Aunt Marian was diagnosed with cancer 33 years after her first diagnoses. I guess I was busy with my own life's journey. Aunt Marian's story was a good life lesson on how not to get so involved in your own life that you don't realize what others may be going through around you. Isn't it amazing how no matter what she may have been going through she always thinks of others. She is truly an inspiration, and a heavenly woman. I just hope that I can be as special to my nieces as my Aunt Marian is to me. I love you, Aunt Marian!