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My Story | Shelley, Ontario, Canada

Cervical cancer, Stage 3b, February 2000 at 54
Internal and external radiation

Cancer Ride

Live each day to its fullest
As it may be your last as they say
More meaning now than ever before
Your diagnosis is cancer.

Shock, disbelief, panic, terror, hopelessness
These feelings bombard your mind.
Day and night it never leaves you
Stop this I want to get off.

This nonstop train races on
Each car filled with stages
Denial, hatred, blame, acceptance
Stop this I want to get off.

Decision of oncologist, treatment, side effects tolerated
Now it begins to kill the cancer
What is enough or too much?
God will only give what you can handle.

See others more serious suffering more
Wishing you could help them
I can get through this second life
Living with cancer keeps me on the train.

I was diagnosed with Stage 3b cervical cancer a year and seven months ago and I ploughed through five weeks of external beam radiation and three days of cesium treatment (brachytherapy) with constipation the only side effect. Six months later, I hemorrhaged, and a month after that, my kidneys failed. "Why?" I asked.

I almost died twice and the doctors couldn't tell me why . Then, I developed a small, dull pain in my pelvic area. Again I asked. "Why?" but the doctors couldn't tell me. Instead, they put me on injections of dilaudid. They prescribed an eight milligram (mg) dose every four hours, but, through my own will power, I am down to 1.75 mg every four hours. Now, they say they want me off this addictive drug, so I will see a pain management specialist in three weeks.

I have a stent in my right kidney and a nephrostomy tube in my left kidney. Next week a stent will replace the nephrostomy, so I will be free of urinary bags.

Since my diagnosis, I have had numerous problems with my healthcare providers:

I was never shown my x-rays or ultrasounds, etc.

My constipation was treated improperly and inadequately.

Throughout my diagnosis and treatment, I never received a comforting word, or positive comment, from doctors.

My first oncologist disappeared without explanation, and I was never told where he went.

I was told very little about procedures or their side effects.

There was little or no coordination between specialists during my treatment.

My doctors were not willing to take the time to listen to me.

Because of the way I was treated, I've given up on the medical profession. I was able to get more information from the radiation technicians than anyone else! Thank God for the Victoria Order of Nurses and volunteer drivers for the cancer clinic who provided help when I needed it most.

My husband and I manage my homecare on our own, and have done so since day one. Living with cancer has become my second life and I spend it writing stories and poems since I'm unable to work. I believe God will take me when it's my time. I think of the many people killed in car accidents, or murdered, and here I am, still alive. AMAZING!

October 2001

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