2023 for me has been nothing short of a trainwreck. My life is taking a detour and although I’m not comfortable sharing my personal life publicly I’d like to share some details with you because I think it’s important. There are too many family and friends that I need to answer questions with and I’m thinking it might be easier and a little more theraputic to do the updating by blogging it here.
We all know the consequences of Covid isolation and how it affected our loved ones. During our isolation my husband Pat and I were busy with following up and carring for his elderly father and handicapped brother whom are his only remaining family unit.
Signs of failure in his father really became apparent after the first year of lockdown. This consequently meant more trips to their house to insure meals and other needs were met.
As things began to open up again from isolation and the holiday season 2022/23 approached situations began to escalate and become too dicy to have him be safe at home.
On January 11, 2023 he was finally sent to hospital via ambulance for assessment. He was later diagnosed with advanced Alzheimers and deemed not safe to be at home. For anyone who may be interested we did miss a lot of signs because the patient often becomes so good at hiding their symptoms until they can no longer control them.
Our lives adjusted once again meaning we divided our time up between the two houses and hospital. We are ever thankful for the nursing and care staff at hospital who have worked wonders with my father in laws behaviour. We now await nursing home placement for him.
During this stressful time as you can imagine I began to notice more changes to my own health. A bout of intermittent chest pain prompted a call to my Dr.s office for an appointment. Unfortunately I was given an appointment 2 months down the road but I also knew that if things got worse I would go directly to the emergency department.
About two weeks prior to the appointment I was able to palpate a lump in one breast. Because I knew I had the appointment pending I decided I would just wait till then to bring it up.
At examination the physician was able to confirm the lump I found and herself palpated one on the other side. An immediate Mammogram and Ultrasound was ordered which happend about 2 weeks post.
During the Mammogram and Ultrasound a third suspicious lump was found under one arm. This prompted a speicalized Mammogram, Ultrasound and Biopsies.
One of those Biopsies returned a result of positive.
“Invasive Mammary Carcinoma – No Specific Type (NST)” to be exact.
My world has stopped this week as preparations are made to enter the world of the unkown much like the dark tunnel image above which I aptly named “A New Journey”. I’m not going to lie, I have experienced all the feels, tears and anger that go along with the diagnosis all of which hopefully help me to heal.
The treatment and care plan is not yet set but is underway at this time beginning with a visit to the surgeons office.
Watever the future brings I have a few things on my mind about what I could have done differently. I am a very patient person but after spending an entire professional career as a Medical Booking Clerk I can reflect upon some key points I missed in my naivity.
I’ve always been an advocate for my health and that of those I care for and I urge each of you to follow the same. At the time of booking the Dr. appointment it would have been in order for me to push for an earlier date or head to the emergency room immediately. That being said, part of being an effective booking clerk is knowing when to bring things to the attention of the physician you are booking for which never did happen in my case. Upon arrival to my Dr. appontment I was lectured by both the nurse and physician for not asking to speak with the nurse and yes I could have done this but again I thought it was important to be patient – a little kindness goes a long way. So – speak up the instant you realize something is not right!
Ladies and sometimes men have your regular Mammograms and do your self-exams. This doesn’t mean the system is foolproof. I had my last regular Mammogram October 4th, 2022. At that time there was nothing of concern. What drew my attention to the area of concern is the fact that I was feeling very tender in the area my camera sat while at rest when I was preparing to shoot or watching something unfold. A seatbelt began to irritate the site. This was before a lump had formed. Pay attention to the early warning signs!
Don’t make the mistake of believing that because you don’t smoke, or have a family history of something, you cannot be the first. This is me – I guess that means I am the trendsetter.
Additionally what the Dr. tells you can in fact be wrong. I was assured that the lump I found did not follow classic Cancer lump formation, it didn’t feel like it and it was likely nothing to worry about.
I have done very little photographing this busy year. I was fortunate to accompany a friend and local photographer Mike Nebesniuk on June 17th, 2023 to Traverse City, Michigan to participate in a fundraising tour for photographers where another 25 photographers gathered to share in the same love. This is where the above image was exposed. An 1885 steam tunnel on the former site of the Northern Michagan Asylum which not only functioned to provide heat in it’s day but had many other purposes underground such as a supply line between the multitued of buildings on site. I’m not sure if or when I will be able to return but it is my most favorite place to photograph.
I’m not saying that I won’t be creating art any longer. In fact, I’m planning on being out there every opportunity I get moving forward. It may mean a few changes to how I am able to carry my camera, distance I walk or location and type of photographing I do, but time will allow me to figure it out. I am looking forward to days when I can set myself free with my camera to create more art and memories and will be working toward making time again.
I’m grateful for my husband and his strength to keep me grounded in this journey. Many thanks to some special close friends who have been there and or who are old school nurses for the chats that help me understand the changes I am dealing with.
Thank you for your kindness. Stay healthy!