Monday, June 20, 2016

Leona Kitty: "My Experience With Cancer"

By Leona Kitty

Hello folks! It has been a very long time since I have been able to write an article for the SL Newser. And I am grateful to Bixyl for allowing me to stick around and not kick me to the curb! Real life takes priority at times and that takes me away a lot. But this time things were different and I wanted to open up about it for the first time.

I have always been a pretty private person and I keep things to myself but what I am currently going through is something I do want to share. Not for my benefit but in hopes to help others. So allow me to explain. Just over two months ago I was diagnosed with Cancer. Breast cancer to be exact and since I have spent my entire life being an over achiever, apparently so was my cancer. I ended up with not only a very rare and super aggressive kind, but I also tested positive not only for the BRAC1 gene but the CHEK2 as well. Told ya, over achiever!

Now, between that time and now I have had two surgeries (both not going as originally planned due to this cancer spreading) but I am now Stage 4 and incurable. The cancer managed to spread to not only 27 lymph nodes but both ovaries as well. I have been to a cancer treatment center and heading to another this week for as many options as I can get. And while I will never be cured, I am searching for the right place to go to have the longest and best life they can possibly give me.

So with all of that being said, let me get to the point of this article. I mentioned before I wanted to help others. It is absolutely impossible to understand what it feels like to have cancer unless you have it. You will go through such a wide variety of emotions and you never know which one to expect next. And I can tell you without a doubt that those emotions do intensify going from Stage 1 to Stage 4. Cancer is a terrifying disease, and most times you will not even know how to feel or what you want or need. So that is where friends and family come in.... or should!

"Those of you who love us -- please  never  be so afraid of our tears that you won't let us cry with you. For if you never see us cry, believe me it doesn't mean we aren't crying. It only means we're doing it alone." - Vickie Gerard

This statement could not be more true. I was never a very social person. I was basically a workaholic and when I was not working I was at home relaxing but I do have a lot of really great friends. Sadly, when cancer strikes, those friends are not sure how to act or what to say. So instead of coming to visit or wanting to hang out with you, they avoid you. They become too busy. If I had a dollar for every time a friend told me they were feeling sick and did not want to take the chance to get me sick in my condition. Please though, do not let cancer stop you from being there for your friend.

One of my best days since being diagnosed was an afternoon that a friend came to visit me. We watched tv for an hour or so, ate dinner and then she helped me to wash my hair because I was still unable to due to surgery. And even though all of those things were so simple, it meant the world to me! Every single moment that you are talking with us, laughing with us or even gossiping about something is another moment we are happy and not thinking about our disease.

We truly cherish every moment you give to us! Whether you realize this or not, a cancer patient is not battling this disease for themselves alone. It is a very tough road. A lot of pain and emotions. We are battling this disease for you as well!

"To love a cancer patient is, in turn, to feel sad, frightened, concerned, angry, lost and often helpless -- and to do all this, for the most part, silently. Does it help you, our Loved Ones, to know that we understand this? Believe me, we do recognize and deeply appreciate the incredibly high price you pay for loving us. Every victory is yours as much as ours." - Vicki Gerard

If you have a friend who has cancer, reach out to them today! Send them a card just to let them know you are thinking about them. Better yet, stop by for a visit. It does not have to be a long one, just long enough to chat for a few minutes. Make it a point to make them smile at least once, laugh at least once. You can walk away knowing that just gave them another reason to push just a little bit harder in their battle.

~Leona Kitty

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