There are many different types of pain. Cancer has this amazing way of affecting the lives of those who are diagnosed. However, it also impacts upon the families of the survivors, fellow coworkers, neighbors... it’s like an equal opportunity provider. Cancer will touch one’s mental/emotional state; it will impact the financial well being of the person and his/her family. It will touch lives in ways that, in some cases, will never be the same again.
It was now July 1, 2002 and I was living in horrific pain. My oncologist, Dr. Nikita Shah, MD, referred to me a pain management specialist. Dr. Shah prescribed a heavy-duty pain killer; hopefully, that would provide some relief until I met with the other physician later in the month. Go to:
Meanwhile, she also suggested I go for physical therapy and I was sent back to visit my radiation oncologist, Dr. Daniel Buchholz, MD. Dr. Shah wasn’t sure if I needed any type of radiation treatments following the mets of my breast cancer to the lungs. Fortunately, he did not believe that any follow up radiation treatments were necessary.
But, the pain was real. Nothing I took nor nothing I did helped provide any relief. I hurt 24/7. It was living nightmare. I also dealt with an increasing level of fatigue. Additional labs were ordered to determine if I needed any medications to increase my stamina. I lived with physical pain and was dealing with emotional stress -- what a combo!
I had to keep reminding myself that I would get “better and stronger.” I wanted to eventually publish a book and become an author. Even at this early point in my post surgical state, I also knew that I would probably never return to my job at Disney’s Reservation Center. (DRC) (The idea of returning to work was a difficult one for me to deal with. There were times I wanted to go back to work at DRC; while there were other times that I knew I could not do the job any longer. This internal conflict would continue for months to come.)
A gift basket (from my fellow cast members) arrived for me and inside, I found a lot of silly stuff... bubbles, a squirt gun, a 500 piece puzzle. I got to work immediately on the puzzle along with Ed and Adrienne. I also spent a peaceful evening with Adrienne on the balcony of our apartment blowing bubbles. It was therapeutic and relaxing. It was then that I realized I needed to relish in the joy of silly stuff - fun, childlike stuff. It was a wonderful way to unwind and be stress free for a moment. (Highly recommend this for anyone dealing with stress from an illness.)
While physical pain was tormenting me, we (my family) were dealing with another crisis. A financial one. As I would discover, cancer affects a family’s bottom line - big time! During the month of July, we received much needed help from Jewish Family Services. Go to: A check we received from the agency allowed us to help pay our rent and they also provided us with three bags of groceries. Although I was tired and in pain every moment of the day (and night), I did begin to think that despite all this, I would have to consider returning to work at some point. Adrienne was unable to find a summer job; Brian also had challenges finding work. (Both served as caregivers and for that, I was most grateful.) The entire budget of the household was now Ed’s responsibility. And he was drowning!
Getting outside was also an important part of my overall recovery. My Mom and brother, Gary, came by one afternoon to take me on a ride to a local store. Instead of using a wheelchair, I chose to walk the long aisles of the store using the shopping chart to help hold me up. It was great exercise, very much needed -- mentally and physically.
Dealing with all the aspects of my recovery had become overwhelming. The mental/emotional aspects were a much bigger issue this time around. (My first fight with cancer in Dec. 2000 and throughout 2001 were basically uneventful. Except for the treatments I had to undergo and the medication I took, I felt great most of the time. After my 2002 lung surgery, life turned upside down.) I knew I had to address these issues, especially since they influenced many other aspects of my life. Getting out of this “rut” would take time -- and at this point in my life, I was living minute to minute in excruciating pain!