One never knows what can happen on a routine day. The day last September of 2008 when I got the news by telephone from the radiologist that my mammogram showed an early cancer led to a year that now seems surreal. In retrospect after finishing one year of treatments, the latter six months being an antibody infused every three weeks to inhibit the likelihood of reoccurrence, I hope that I have learned a few things for which I am most grateful.
I learned that faith, family and friends are most important in this life. You do not need worldly goods to be richly blessed, just lots of good people in your life. Some folks that I never dreamed of hearing from made contact when they heard my news. Many offered support and I am grateful to have had prayers from so many churches. I got cards from all over and care packages from mere acquaintances as well as friends. Unexpected flowers made the worst of days more bearable. A meal sent in or a cheerful phone call sometimes made all the difference. My college friends and former coworkers rallied around me.
The drivers who volunteered or we asked were plentiful; I never lacked a ride nor did my father. You see, this time was especially stressful in that my Dad had an infection in his artificial joint that had to be removed in January, following several earlier hospitalizations for infection. It required him to be on long term antibiotics postoperatively in a swing bed at Effingham Hospital after surgery in Savannah. The staff at Effingham was super and he did well in what became his home away from home with his stays totaling around 75 days in 2008-09. I never worried knowing that everyone gave him their best care at a time when I could not be around him due to his infection and my suppressed immunity. Effingham is indeed blessed with this hospital and quality of care.
Although I never had a sister by birth, God blessed me with one when I needed it most. I will always remember the trips to the doctor learning of my plan of care and Wanda Morgan’s support, as well as her staying with me on the nights of surgeries and chemo. And she was not my only blessing including my own family.
You all came out of the woodwork and I especially appreciate Monteen and Aunt Mary E. for all of their special attention. Each one of you who helped is a golden thread in the tapestry that this last year became. I dare not list any other names as I might omit someone, but each of you will never be forgotten.
New technology amazed me like the option of high dose radiation and I was fortunate to get that completed prior to chemotherapy. The American Cancer Society, in conjunction with local hotels, offered me a suite with a kitchen not too far from J. C. Lewis Cancer Center during the 11 days while I had the radiation catheter. This enabled me to drive to most of my appointments and all for a nominal hotel fee, which was less than gas to and from home twice a day, thanks to the Marriott Corporation facility that was participating in the Savannah area.
Savannah is blessed with two wonderful cancer centers. Patient navigators and resources personnel make the journey easier. Dr. Denitto and the surgical staff at Memorial University Medical Center were great throughout my surgical procedures. Compassion, competence and understanding describe the oncology and radiation staff at Candler/St. Joseph’s J. C. Lewis Cancer Center where I received treatments. Dr. Geffen and Dr. Bala’s attention and kindness are unequalled along with their staff.
Perhaps one of the Summit Cancer Group’s strongest points is quality and consistency of staff providing outstanding care. Every trip, from one to three times a week for the first twenty weeks of chemotherapy, I was greeted by Georgia and grew to know each staff member by name.
Spending hours in the treatment room, I grew to think of RNs Lynn, Kate, Rita and Dusty as friends that had my confidence in their abilities and my respect. I depended on the nurse practitioners, Myra and Diane, and Dr. Bala’s nurse Jackie. No matter how sick I was or how weak, they made it easy on me from lab technicians to pharmacists. I truly will miss these people as my treatments ended on Nov. 17, but I will see them on checkups and will always highly praise them and owe my life to their expertise.
The way I see it now, I hope I have grown more patient, which is not my strongpoint by any means. I hope I appreciate my family and others more including those who have meant so much to me and my family, including Mac Weaver, Daddy’s close friend from childhood, and Clinton and Jack Shuman who along with all of their family are now our family, too.
I hope that along the way, I can show someone just a small measure of the kindness that has come our way this year. Instead of being in such a hurry, I am trying to do things not planned sometimes taking advantage of opportunities that I usually miss. I will keep digging in history and writing or compiling Echoes for Historic Effingham for this paper because of those of you who encourage this with your kind words.
Our family will gather for holidays this year, so very blessed, my father free of infection now recovering well from his knee revision and me free of cancer at this time.
They say God never puts on us more than we can stand and although a few times, I think I was tested, I know these words to be true. You have to look at the good that came from the bad in order to be truly thankful and our family is looking forward to spending time through the holidays with our treasures in life — our faith, family and friends with whom we have been blessed and are truly thankful.
As we all gather for family events and worship in our free world, let us pray for all of our soldiers, including Lucas Hynes, Matt Gray and Marcus Hursey, who are in harm’s way, making this possible and thank God for the many blessings we share together.
From my family to yours, we wish you all a blessed and thankful holiday season.