Fall has arrived and it is time to meet another one of our members Wendy better known in our community as Wendy Tea.
My name is Wendy Tea and I live on the West Coast, sometimes referred to as the other great coast! My childhood was a trip, literally, living in 3 countries and 5 Canadian provinces. I was born in Saskatchewan but I always have considered the West Coast as home. I spent my career in challenging insurance jobs, most involving travel. I retired to the good life at age 65 and have been living my best life ever since.
Six months ago, I felt drained but I passed my annual checkup, had a routine mammogram, and while I was waiting for results, I discovered a shingles rash on my hip. Here is the thing. I had a one dose shingles vaccine five years prior. Who knew that the latest vaccine is a 2 dose vaccine? My single dose was only 50% effective and I was on the wrong side of 50%.While battling shingles, I was recalled for a site specific mammogram and ultra sound which diagnosed breast cancer.
Five months ago, as I prepared to turn 70, I was dealing with biopsies, titanium implants, decisions about lumpectomy or mastectomy, and preparing for surgery.
Four months ago, I had a mastectomy with removal of three lymph nodes. I chose this option because I had family history. Also my hope was that this choice would perhaps allow me to bypass chemo and radiation. As a single woman living 32 kms from my treatment centre, I knew arranging transport would be a problem.
Three months ago, I learned I was stage one with clear lymph nodes. I was prescribed an estrogen blocker which is a daily pill for five years and is provided at no cost. I went out and celebrated! Then I asked my family physician to order a ferritin test because I felt my recovery was not proceeding as quickly as I had hoped. Results showed I was in the borderline area. I was able to add more iron into my diet and I steadily grew stronger.
Two months ago, I focused on rebuilding my stamina and reconnecting with my social circle, which had been extremely supportive during my journey.
This month I am travelling to Calgary for a week to reconnect with some gal pals, and get some much needed emotional support and hugs.
I have learned on this unwelcome journey to listen to my body, to keep current on medical tests, to speak up for myself, to ask questions, and to advocate. (Wearing a No Tylenol wrist band did not stop the post recovery room nurse from trying to give me two T3's). I also learned it is ok to ask for help, and it is ok to not be so darned independent. The best way to deal with my journey and to put it in its place, was to blog about it so that it did not become all consuming. I am so much more than my cancer. It is part of who I am but it does not define me.
My goal is to exercise more, eat healthy foods, lose the weight I gained when I was inactive recovering on the sofa, and to reconnect with my friends. Having a healthy social life is as important as healing my body.
Cancer Connections has shown I am not alone, I am strong, I am a survivor, and I have experiences and support that I can offer to others in their journey.
I am a member of a News and Current events group at my local library, a member of a knitting and crochet group (google Tunisian crochet!), and I am part of a coffee group. I also like to read,sew, sketch, paint, and refinish furniture.
Thank you so much Wendy for sharing your story with us, you are a wonderful addition to our community!