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When Bad Things Keep Happening to Sort of Good People
Contributor
Written by
Marie Cooper
July 2013
Contributor
Written by
Marie Cooper
July 2013

Perhaps I am stretching it by putting myself in the Good People category. I know so many people who are far more charitable stronger, braver and admirable than I am. That is why I have qualified it a bit: I am sort of good. Pretty good. Relatively good. I do try. However, those Bad Things, they just keep on a-comin’.

I found a lump in my breast several months ago, but with all my health problems and multiple recent hospitalizations, following up on it took a back seat. I finally had a biopsy last week and within a few days the results came back. I have ductal carcinoma in situ, or, in lay terms, breast cancer. It is the most common type and the chances are high for a complete cure after surgery, chemo and radiation.

The problem is that the treatment protocol takes a tremendous toll on the healthiest of people. And me? I am not the healthiest of people. Multiple sclerosis has sucked all the ‘life’ out of my life. Secondary to MS I have developed crippling lymphedema in my legs, causing relentless, excruciating pain and severely limiting my ability to take more than a few steps, essentially confining me to a wheelchair and to my home. Getting out of the house is simply too darn hard.

Limited mobility means no exercise. I carry the genes of Irish peasants who survived an Gorta Mór (the Great Potato Famine).  I am very proud of my heritage.  But, depressingly, what allowed my ancestors to survive in the 19th century means that immobile me in the 21st century piles on weight by just sitting here and breathing. Oh, and breathing? Yeah, that would be an issue too, as MS has caused a partial paralysis of my diaphragm, which has compromised my ability to take deep breaths. Surgery to remove the lump will require anesthesia. There is considerable concern that my lungs will not be strong enough to recover from the anesthesia. I might end up with a tube in my throat attached to a machine that would breathe for me for the remainder of my days.

Which makes me wonder, what on earth did I do in a previous life?!?! Holy mackerel, it must have been really, really bad.

I am trying hard to keep a positive outlook, but it is very tough. I’m awfully scared. On the plus side, I have a great team of health care providers who are truly skilled, concerned and compassionate. I have found someone who might be able to help treat my lymphedema at home. I trust my oncologist and respect her suggested plans and realistic expectations. My respiratory therapist has referred me to a physician who specializes in preventing post-op vents.

My friends have rallied around me with a tornado of caring and love. It is my children I am the most concerned about, though. My being ill has shattered them.  I do not want them to be burdened or to watch me suffer. I am praying for them, that they find solace in each other and that we can be a whole, happy family once again.

So, I soldier on. I believe things always work out one way or another. They may not work out the way you want or the way you intended, but they do work out. I have always rolled with the punches, dusting myself off and reinventing myself as I’ve needed to. Even when I didn’t want to. I am not ready for it, but ready or not, it is time for a new adventure.

Wish me luck.

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