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Meet...Supersu

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It is October and time to meet another of our members. Meet Supersu who shares her experience of being diagnosed and treated during a global pandemic and how her sense of humour and friends and this community helped got her to where she is now.

 
When the folks at CancerConnection.ca asked me to introduce myself to this community for the month of OCTOBER, (Breast Cancer awareness month), I was frankly a little shocked. I am not exactly the poster child for the 'cancer machine'. In fact, I struggled with my experience openly throughout COVID.
 
 
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If sharing my story can help someone else by bringing a smile to your face, then my work here is done.  I an NOT a doctor, (though I like to play one ;), so please don’t take any of my ‘advice’ as such.  I am sassy and enjoy a good cartoon or two, so fair warning — I tell it like it is, with a few swears thrown in for good measure.

This is my story: I call it DIY CANCER

I found out I had Breast Cancer one ordinary day at the Diagnostic Imaging Centre that I work at.  My friend, let’s just call her ‘Cold Hands’, performed my mammogram just as she had done each and every year for at least the last decade.  It was not unusual for me to have extra images, so I wasn’t even surprised when additional views were called for.  I even made my usual annual joke at this point: ‘Well, if I don’t have breast CA yet, I certainly will after you take all these images.’ #zap #zap #haha

But……SOMETHING was different this time…’Cold Hands’ wouldn’t look at me, her face was reddened, and I KNEW.  I knew I had just become a Breast Cancer patient.

By the time I had an ultrasound done that same afternoon, and the radiologist confirmed what I figured I already knew, I thought I had pretty well worked out in my head what this experience was going to be for me.  After all, I had dealt with Breast CA patients for 20 years, my own father had Breast CA and I had been the primary caregiver for my spouse as he navigated a Stage 4 cancer diagnosis 20 years ago.  I NEVER once factored COVID into this make-believe scenario of mine. I went home, ordered a pizza, drank a gin based beverage and continued with this therapy faithfully for the next 6 months.

 

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The next number of weeks I continued to work at my job as a Nuclear Medicine Technologist.  My biopsy only confirmed the obvious, and my surgery was scheduled for 17MAR2020.

Here is where it gets interesting!  I had a pre surgery appointment to place some radioactive tracer into my breast to determine sentinel lymph node distribution, so I took the day off from work.  I entered the clinic and was surprised to be looked after by personnel in gowns and full PPE??? What the heck was going on, I wondered??!! This turned out to be the day that my city started reacting to the COVID virus.  I tell folks that I could practically hear the doors slamming shut behind me as I left the hospital the next day after my very uneventful lumpectomy surgery.

I live on my own, but have scads of friends and neighbours that I figured could/would be my helpers if I needed it, and keep me company while I convalesced from surgery. 

SURPRISE:


Everyone was suddenly isolating, so no visitors! 

My family, only a 3-hour car ride away, was isolating, so still no visitors!


All in person doctors’ appointments cancelled. ‘Appointments’ conducted over the phone; still no visits.

2nd surgery required for ‘unclear margins’, this kind of distressing and totally unplanned for information relayed to me over the phone; AND still no face2face visit.  Not surprising, this trip to my hospital was like something out of a horror show.  The corridors were empty, and my best pal who had driven me was not even allowed to bring me to the door.


Results from pathology sometimes relayed over the phone, and once even left as a message (really? you couldn’t call back???).  All sorts of folks isolating and working from home & home schooling their kids made most of them very hard to reach; and yep you guessed it - still no face2face visits.

Weeks go by, many phone calls initiated by me, and still no face2face visits for treatment plans or test results.

I WAS EXTRAORDINARILY FRUSTRATED and could only be thankful for a handful of things…..

*I had some super support from friends who had been through the ‘system’ and told me what I should be asking for, and what I could expect.
*I wasn’t afraid to make phone calls, (sometimes multiple try’s), to get the information I wanted and needed for my own mental health.
*I learned how to use ZOOM and visited weekly, (actually more than I had in years), with my sisters all over Canada—what a gift.
*I took a virtual seniors, (I’m not a senior, but the low impact and gentle movements were just what the doctor, AKA: me—ordered to maintain flexibility and ROM on my 2X surgery side), fitness class every day.

*I figured out that my fave liquor store delivered for free with awesome precautions.
*I wasn’t dead yet.
*I started to walk outdoors with my best pal and learned what physical distance was all about.
*When the sun started shining and the snow melted, we brought our chairs to a nearby field and had coffee with whoever was available each week. This group of women was a delight.
*My best pal has the best back yard within walking distance and our girl gang enjoyed many afternoon and evening socials there—-physically distanced cuz by now we are all good at this.
*Patios are plentiful, and friendos LOVE craft beer as much as I do.
*I FOUND the CANCERCONNECTION.ca folks.  I soon realized what a treasure trove of information and support this is and had many ‘conversations’ with folks and sometimes just read for hours about other people’s journeys.  24 hours a day, 7 days a week, there was always someone there to ‘chat’ with and lean on.  THESE FORUMS were truly a lifeline for me during this long dark spring and continue to be a source of inspiration and information for me. 

I am very slowly, after the usual ups & downs of Radiation Therapy, climbing out of the Breast Cancer treatment cocoon. 


I have started a slow re-entry to work and have been moved to tears by the kindness of strangers, friends, family and co-workers as they accommodate me.  I continue my weekly coffee sessions, patio hangs, back yard visits, zooming with friends near and far, weekly chats with the sisters and am hoping to not get COVID just like the rest of the world.


I know how privileged and blessed I am to have had such great supports - if I can ever be that kind of support for you, do not hesitate to contact me.  The days & nights will be long once our amazing summer is gone, and I fear our lives will not be ‘normal’ again, for a very long time.

I would NEVER want anyone to feel as alone as I did—cuz CANCER COVID = no #effin FUN at all!!
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cheers
supersu 

Thank you Su for sharing your experience ( and a chuckle or two ) with us. Wishing you well with your re=entry back to work.

 




Comments

Hi SU
U R FUNNY.....and made me chuckle all the way to the Loo! First Floor of course!
Cheers to ya!
Yup face 2 face may be a thing of the past! Another person wrote they have NOT yet "met" their Oncologist? ! What the heck ???
Nice to meet you.....GLAD you are healing and tomorrows will be better than todays.
A dear friend, in Montreal, also in the Nuclear Meds field, is also a breast cancer survivor....what is IN those machines/areas? urgh.
Enjoy the fitness, the odd drink-y-poo......the crunch of leaves beneath your feet AND the support of good people out there.
Warmly,
Whitelilies

Lillian  
  • Posted Tue 20 Oct 2020 03:51 PM EDT
Whitelilies‍ 

Lillian - thanks for the note :)

ugh....NOT YET met their onco---what a shame.....if I were the research type of gal, I would look into what this dearth of patient care is doing to the outcomes of patients - obviously cannot be good for mental health - but I would wonder if it is affecting the physical side of things???  ridiculous!!

I have enjoyed your many posts over the months - you are so supportive and comforting on this site -- thanks for that!

cheers and 'see' you around here 
su
  • Posted Wed 21 Oct 2020 07:33 AM EDT
What a great story - which seems weird when its about being diagnosed with cancer!  You are one of the heroes in Nuclear Medicine - thank you!

Your story has great inspiration and the right amount of humour - in fact, I may just go and eat a block of cheese like an apple right now...lol.

Welcome, Kim
  • Posted Sat 17 Oct 2020 04:34 PM EDT
Kims1961‍ 
NEVER met a block of cheese I didn't LOVE ;)

law‍ 
the whole thing has been an education for sure!
as I return to work full time, I find myself really checking how I communicate with my patients, (I now look each and every one in the eyes)
I was a very good tech before, but now that I have been on the 'other side' I know what made a difference to me.

Squirrels‍ 
we all handle the same sorts of news differently! 
I def self medicated with pizza and gin ;), #not recommended
I have now joined weight watchers; I cannot for the life of me get the app to track an entire pizza! ha ha

thank you all for your kind words - this community is so supportive - not sure what I would have done without it!
cheers
su
  • Posted Tue 20 Oct 2020 08:13 AM EDT
law
supersu‍ 
Thanks for the story and your experiences thus far....
Well, my goodness, you are a funny lady yet it must be ironic to be working in Nuclear Med. Cancer and your' adventures' thus far are a real challenge and require your humour to get thru----which you are doing in admirable style.
(I have no idea why the size of my font seems to shrink)
Keep us informed of the good and not so good
​​​​​​​law

 
  • Posted Mon 19 Oct 2020 12:21 PM EDT
Thank you for sharing your story. You are a true inspiration.  I love your humor
  • Posted Mon 19 Oct 2020 09:06 AM EDT
Well done supersu‍ !!

Your experience is real and valid. 

Love your sense of humour!

Lacey
  • Posted Wed 07 Oct 2020 10:57 AM EDT
Lacey_Moderator
thanks for the opportunity to tell my story!  
Clarke‍ 
I heard someone say: 'we are not in the same boat, but rather we are all in the same storm' -- (natch I say sh*t storm---ha ha ha!)  so glad to hear you are thru your  'storm' and never for a second would I say you were luckier than me!  ;)

cheers and Happy Thanksgiving to you both!  
  • Posted Sat 10 Oct 2020 09:00 AM EDT
Thank you for sharing your story.  I am lucky to have had my “cancer days” before CODIV-19.
Stay in the fresh air while you can😎
  • Posted Thu 08 Oct 2020 09:58 AM EDT
supersu‍ I would suggest that your work here will never be done with an amazing story like this! Thank you for sharing this about yourself and your journey! Its a really good story for sure. And I am sure many will be encouraged/inspired by it. That sounds like one of the good doctors you were dealing with!
  • Posted Tue 06 Oct 2020 10:24 PM EDT
CentralAB‍ 
love your avatar - beautiful!
this doc is on twitter - I sadly don't know him personally--he's at a local hospital working in the intensive care unit --- amazing guy.  he is treating the sickest of the sick and still has time for social media!  we really do all deal with our stresses differently!

here's to a great holiday weekend in beautiful AB
cheers
 
  • Posted Wed 07 Oct 2020 07:54 AM EDT
Great to meet you supersu‍ !I enjoy reading your posts  here and your sense of humour is a delight!   You are awsome!
  • Posted Tue 06 Oct 2020 10:20 PM EDT
Brighty‍ 
thanks - we can def be BFF's if you think I am funny!  ha ha

YOU are AWESOME -- as I follow along in the forums I see how helpful and kind you are to many folks :) 

cheers & have a great holiday weekend
  • Posted Wed 07 Oct 2020 07:58 AM EDT

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