I turned 60 employed and in great health. I went dancing (swing or 2-step, anybody?) and swimming. I lifted weights and rode my bike all along Raleigh’s beautiful Greenway. My job filled me with joy. I provided care for an active 10-year-old for 5 years; we grew close over those 5 years and we adored each other.
My life was fun, beautiful, and active. I had rebuilt it after finding myself suddenly single at 50 - thrust into living alone and making a life of my own after being married for 30 years. I also struggled with bi-polar II disorder. I managed both those battles, beautifully.
Then, my arm broke this past June (2017) while I was putting a cork back in a bottle of wine. I spent my birthday getting a bone biopsy.
It is cancer.
My humerus has a tumor that is destroying my bone -and further tests showed that the sarcoma had also spread to my shoulder and spots on both of my lungs. With the spread to my lungs, surgery was not possible – I had to do intense chemo (“kick-ass” chemo was the technical term).
My fun, beautiful, active life changed dramatically. Quickly.
I started chemo in August. I started chemo – 3 words I never imagined saying. I’ve fought through 3 strong and difficult sessions. There are more to come. Chemo really messes with my chemical levels, my bi-polar meds, but I am wrestling fiercely with that too and trying to keep it all in balance.
There are things though that I can’t manage.
While my employer gave every indication that they were going to work with me with my employment there, I lost my well-paying job within the very first month of diagnosis. I have worked my entire life, caring for others and in service roles, including as a teacher and nanny.
I can no longer provide for myself. My savings have been consumed by bills already paid and now on essentials. Most recently, income (from alimony) I was supposed to receive was suddenly cut by half.
Medical bills are mounting. I have one for $4,000 from Duke sitting on my kitchen table waiting for me. I know more are coming – along with more chemo, more labs, biopsies, surgery, and probably more things I haven’t even imagined yet.
My life is still beautiful. I just must work harder to see the beauty. I always rally toward healing – that’s just who I am. Cancer hasn’t changed that.
I am in the battle of my life now.
I need you to fight with me.
Every bit helps.
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