Friday, September 16, 2011

Life as a Cancer Survivor -- The Good, The Bad & The In Between

[Reality has hit hard again this week. I lost another friend to cancer. This time, It is Lila who lost her hard fought battle with ovarian cancer on Monday, Sept. 12. My deepest condolences to her family and to all her friends who share in this loss. In her memory, I will continue to fight cancer by raising money for patient services, education, advocacy and research. Lila and her son, Christian, attended the reading of my play “Chemonologues” in March 2010 at Theatre Downtown. I believe that is the last time I saw her. However, she was aware of my various projects and this blog. Her strong passion to “find the cure” was a trait I greatly admired. She will continue to live on through her children and their efforts to make cancer “history.” Lila -- you will be missed but not forgotten.] 

(This blog pertains to events that occurred in the fall of 2003.)
I was undergoing occupational therapy   (Go to:   because of my “trigger finger” and other problems with my hands and fingers, all due to the increasing invasion of arthritis throughout my body. Needless to say, there were times of excruciating pain. I would experience moments where my fingers locked up and I could not bend nor move them at all. As a writer, this was terrifying. Getting them “unlocked” was not an easy task. My fingers did not want to bend correctly and trying to move them in any direction shot fire-like pain through my hands, arms and well into my shoulders. The OT sessions were essential if I was to maintain any normal movement of these joints. 
I learned that a good friend and neighbor, Nancy, was dealing with a recurrence of her breast cancer. After five years, the cancer had returned with a vengeance. The breast cancer had now spread to her colon, lymph nodes and bones. She was placed on both Zometa and Herceptin, the two drugs I was already taking. So, we got together at a local Panera Bread to discuss our treatments and how we felt. Nancy was an extremely strong woman -- she had gone off to college after raising her family and earned a degree in elementary education. She loved teaching kindergarten. Her students were “her babies” and she adored them. The classroom was her haven for reaching these young minds. Nancy was the perfect educator -- dedicated, passionate and willing to deal with all the “bureaucracy” in order to reach out and teach “her children. We enjoyed our get together and agreed we needed more of these moments. 
We received a call from the Roth family telling us they were planning to visit Walt Disney World. So, we made arrangements to meet up with them at a local kosher restaurant where we could meet and spend time together. Both sets of children were happy to see one another. The hours went quickly, but the visit with our cousins was delightful. It was nice to know we had established a relationship that was lasting. 
On October 18, 2003 Edward joined me for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. The 5K walk began at Lake Eola in downtown Orlando. Brian and Adrienne, who had set off to visit Tampa that weekend, also did the MSABC walk except they did so, in the Tampa area. The walk was difficult for me, but Ed and several others encouraged me to continue. I arrived home exhausted and took a well earned nap.  Go to: 

My typical day, when not visiting a doctor or having a treatment, was usually spent at home. I watched a lot of TV, and had my favorite sitcoms and dramas that I liked to watch. I read and I slept. Exhaustion remained a part of my life, so I dealt with it my allowing my body to sleep whenever I felt the need. I gave in to the fatigue. It was easier than fighting it. 
Brian notified us that The Feldman Dynamic was going to be a part of the 2004 Orlando International Fringe Festival. We would be “back on stage” but this time, in our own home town. That would be in late May 2004, so it left me with plenty of time to deal with any “stage fright” issues that remained unresolved. I wasn’t sure if it would be easier this time -- since (1) I had already done the show in NYC and (2) I would probably know some of the audience members attending. 
I love to “party.”  On November 1, 2003 I attended the 30th birthday bash for my good friend and fellow cancer survivor, Dan O’Leary. His wife, Jennifer, had planned a huge get together in his honor at their lovely Oviedo home. It was great celebrating this milestone with him along with family and friends. You could “feel the lovethroughout the household and it was so wonderfully invigorating. It was moments like this that made “surviving” so special. 

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