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Meet Mim

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This February, I'm pleased to introduce you to Miriam- better known on our community as Mim. Here's a bit more about Mim, who answered our Meet your Neighbour questionnaire.

Q: Tell us a little bit about your cancer experience
I am a 50 year old Registered Nurse from Central Alberta. I have 3 kids, two live in Calgary where they are working and our 15 year old son is still home. My husband has been home with me on stress leave and this has been a huge help for me even though he is, of course, stressed out too. 
I was diagnosed with Invasive Ductal Carcinoma and Ductal Carcinoma in Situ (DCIS) Breast Cancer in my left breast May 25, 2014 from a Mammogram. I was not expecting it because no one else in my family has had cancer. One month later, I was diagnosed with DCIS in the Left breast as well. Because I wanted to pursue Breast Conserving surgery, I had Chemotherapy before surgery (called Neo Adjuvant Chemo). I had 6 rounds of TC which ended November 5, 2014. I continue to receive targeted therapy Herceptin IV every 3 weeks. I had a right total mastectomy and a left lumpectomy on Jan 5, 2015 (Happy New Year to me!). February 6, I had one more surgery to take out some DCIS that was still left in the left breast. The next phase of my treatment will be radiation therapy. 
Q: What physical changes have you experienced as a result of cancer?
The physical changes I have experienced are pretty numerous – all from the treatment of cancer, not from the cancer itself. I have lost all the hair on my body except my eyelashes. Lots of my hair has grown back in, not quite enough yet to rock a brush cut but pretty soon. I really love the wigs, especially in winter. I have quite a bit of bone pain still in my hips, and it is worse at night particularly when I cannot sleep. The Docetaxel put me into menopause which made sleeping a challenge at times due to hot flashes. My fingernails have weird ridges in them but they seem to be growing out now. Right from the first dose of TCH, my belly circumference grew although I haven’t gained weight and it hasn’t seemed to go back down. That might be mine to work on after the fun of treatment is over. My right arms swells due to Lymphedema after the mastectomy. I have been massaging that. 
I struggle with depression/anxiety and I find that the cancer and cancer treatment have made that worse – particularly in the wintertime here. I’m just working with my family Dr. to adjust medications. In addition, I walk daily about 3 km as I have continued throughout the whole treatment cycle. While receiving the TC, there were days when I couldn’t walk, but I just gradually walked a little bit and then back up to my regular route. The walking helped me with my mood, anxiety and to have more energy. 
Q: Did you get any “words of wisdom” that inspired you, that helped you through your cancer journey?
When I was first diagnosed with Cancer, my “no-nonsense, frank speaking” family Dr. felt terrible. She even gave me a hug. She said, “Look.  You’re going to have to stay positive and look at this as a year to get through in order to be healthy again.”  I would say that is about right. There’s a lot of it you just have to “get through.” You don’t love it, it’s not fun, but it’s just time that has to pass. For me right now, it’s time that has to pass until I get well enough to go through radiation.  Another friend with Stage IV cancer was there to help distract me every time there was waiting.  “It’s the waiting that’s excruciating,” she would say.
I started 2 Blogs on Facebook. One was the light and breezy Blog with the big, brief news, the second Blog was my lifeline with women who are my confidants. I tell them what the “real journey” is like on there and they pray for me and post pictures and well wishes. It is so nice to be able to read over those good wishes. At Halloween, I shaved my head and went as Princess Ilea from Star Trek and posted a picture on my Blog.  It was great to make light of the situation. Another thing I recommend is the “Look Good, Feel Better” program. I received a lot of free make-up and they show you how to apply it.  My 20 year old daughter came and it was a good bonding time for us.

Q: What is one thing you want everyone to know about having cancer?
One thing I want everyone to know about having cancer is that “it can be bloody hard but we’re all in this together!”  Because of this, you should turn to other Cancer survivors with your complaints, concerns and questions because we understand the weight of things.  Just after I was diagnosed, a Nurse Navigator was supposed to be making the appointment with a Medical Oncologist. Because it was June, she was having difficulty finding an appointment and she said to me, “I don’t know when I can get you an appointment.”  Another person with Cancer can probably understand why I almost disintegrated on the spot! 
Q: How has helped you through your cancer experience?
Many times when I read, I realize that I’m “so not alone,” in this journey. It’s nice to hear of others a little further along the journey, who are already going up the other side and I am encouraged. It’s also nice to be able to reach out to others who are at the terrifying beginning of the journey (when you lose your keys and wallet 50 times a day), and to let them know they are going to be OK one day at a time. 
Q: And now, for the all-important question everyone is asking. If you could choose a superhero power, what would it be?
And for my superhero power – definitely flight.  I would go on some nice picnics in Banff in the Rocky Mountains over here by us. 



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