Going through having breast cancer made me stop and think about the important things. I came up with five: faith, family, friends, food, and flowers.
In December 2000 I went for my regular six-month checkup. At first the doctor thought what was discovered on my breast was a cyst. But being a nurse, I knew when they kept pausing that something was wrong. It was stage 4 breast cancer. It was suggested that I could wait a few months but I didn’t want to do that. Fortunately, we found a surgeon who was willing to do it right away. I was 75 years old at the time of diagnosis and the chemo and radiation really knocked the pep out of me.
I believe my faith got me through. It’s become more and more important as I’ve gotten older. My husband Dave and I have been members of the Grandview United Methodist Church for 60 years. Recently the Sunday school children presented us with roses to commemorate that. Family is, of course, the other thing I relied on, especially Dave and our children. We have three sons, one daughter, seven grandchildren and five great-granddaughters.
It’s important to have friends and no matter where you go you can meet more, when you travel, when you volunteer, in the neighborhood, and at church. We moved into a retirement village two years ago and we’ve made more friends here. One day a lady asked me if I was always happy. I had never really thought about it but I had to say “Yes, I guess I am. It helps.”
As far as food and flowers, my mother taught me about nutrition. I knew all about it before the exam in nursing school. I still eat five to six servings of fruit and vegetables every day. It’s easy if you think about it. And flowers … oh my gosh what would I do without my garden and my sunporch!
Another thing that helped that first year was listening to good music. I like opera and classical music and jazz.
Five years ago, Dave and I got a book about tai chi and we practice that every day for 15-20 minutes and we use a stationary bike. I really believe in tai chi and it helps a lot with balance. Cancer can do a lot of things but it can’t take everything away from you either, especially those five most important things.