Hello my Daisy List readers,
Today I have a special story to tell you. It’s about another survivor. But this survivor is also an inspirational WARRIOR! In the past I’ve written about survivors that I barely knew, because I was inspired by their strength and courage. This time I’m going to write about someone very close and personal to me. This story is about my friend JANET, one of my Posse.
I want to apologize in advance for the length of this Post, but I felt compelled to tell as much as I could without turning it into a novel. JANET deserves it!
I met Janet years ago working for AT&T and just before I retired, we formed our little Posse which included Janet, Lisa and myself. Recently we’ve added 2 new members, Kristina, Lisa’s daughter a couple of years ago, and now Denise, my daughter who we inducted on March 10, 2018. It’s become a special pact with a special bond.
But this story is about Janet not the Posse, so I’d like to explain a little bit about Janet. Her personality is what you might call “spicey”. Yea, that’s right spicey. She pretty much says what she thinks and much of her thinking is not always very conventional. She’s a fighter and I think I mean that in both a physical and psychological way. If she likes you, you’ll know it, if not you’ll know that too.
She apologizes for none of her rough edges, “I am what I am” says Popeye and that pretty much rounds it up for Janet.
She’s smart but keeps it to herself. She’ll give you an opinion in a minute and doesn’t particularly care if you buy it or not.
When I first heard that Janet had cancer, I thought I was able to relate to her problems in a personal way because we were such good friends, but it wasn’t until I myself met Mr. Taz that I really got a glimpse into Janet’s struggles.
First of all, this trip was Janet’s “second” bout with cancer. Years ago, long before I met her, Janet had her first bout with cancer but she had been “clean” for years. So, on that level alone I couldn’t relate. I mean what exactly is it like to be cancer free for years, and then boom out of the blue, here it is AGAIN?
I HOPE I NEVER FIND OUT!
Now here’s the rest of the story. Janet had been married, but has no children. Both her parents are deceased, but she has sisters and brothers and for the most part is very close to all of them. As a matter of fact just prior to her diagnosis, Janet and one of her sisters had decided to consolidate households and live together. Janet had just sold her house and moved in with her sister when she found out about her health issue. THANK GOD, because her sister became her ADVOCATE and care taker, and we know how important both of those roles are.
But now here’s the struggle. Janet was going through the whole chemo process and with all the junk that that entails, months before I was hit with cancer. As a matter of fact she was in the last phase of her treatment when I started my treatments. But from the very beginning she encountered so, so many more problems than I had.
First of course you deal with the shock of dealing with CANCER AGAIN! Then you have to figure out how to fight the disease AGAIN. Then all of the physical side-affects, then throw in the finances, resources, medication and everything else that goes along with this monster, and it goes from a very bad dream to a horrifying nightmare! Mr TAZ in spades!
I should mention here that Janet is a big time “NO NONSENCE” person, so she immediately put on her WARRIOR uniform and began her fight.
After completing all of my treatments, and getting my own “SURVIVOR” papers Janet was close to the end of her chemo treatments, and we were all ready to celebrate our victories. But that was not to be, Janet got hit with still another ton of bricks. Because of some complications with her treatments, she was going to have to start “from the beginning” a new second round of chemo and radiation. WOW!
Talk about a gut punch. No double gut punch! Everyone was in shock, friends, family, everyone. Lisa and I spent many hours discussing it, but Janet just kept her BRAVE face on even though we knew she was scared.
But the bizarre part of this “second” round of treatments was that the type of chemo she needed was a new one, and was still being developed. That meant she was going to have to WAIT until the trials were over in order to start her new treatments. Of course that involved an agonizing fight for her and her doctors to get the new drug as soon as possible.
Keep in mind this cancer is growing in her, and she has to “WAIT” for some administrative decisions to be made about the meds before she can start her fight again. That rangling went on for months to the point that both Lisa and myself were ready to head into “SOMEBODY’S” office we didn’t care who, and start screaming our heads off. The irony was instead of us keeping Janet calm, Janet had to calm us down.
She also had to deal with all the additional side-effects that this TAZ nightmare brings. She had already lost her hair once, it had grown back, and now she had to loose it again. REALLY! GEEZ! Then throw in puking every day to the point that you can’t keep food down and you lose half of your original body weight.
Then of course came some “new health” complications. It was as if the cancer wasn’t enough let’s just throw in some other junk to shake things up even more. Janet became ill and was hospitalized only to find out that she was going to require some invasive surgery on her intestines to remove some sort of blockage. That whole thing became so complicated, to the extent that she was hospitalized on and off for weeks. It became a freaking crazy upside down world.
To add insult to injury, Janet had taken an early buyout from AT&T just before she was diagnosed with TAZ, and that was affecting her health insurance benefits, so now she had to work some things out to get some sort of coverage. Just the thing you need to worry about when you’re trying to figure out how to freaking“STAY ALIVE”!
The extraordinary part of this story, is that Janet kept her feisty spirit all along. Although we knew she was scared, she was never a Debbie downer. Every time we had our little reunions, Janet was there with her drinking boots on. (smile) At this point, we ALL needed drinking boots.
What else was there to do but drink and get happy? OMG, on some of those reunions, we were lucky we didn’t get thrown out of the some of the restaurants. But it was always a good time, and we always invited anyone else in the place to join us. Sometimes it was the owner of the place.
In the meantime, while all this is going on, the bills are piling up. She had become a contractor working at AT&T, but there were no benefits, and she had to take off a substantial amount of time, “WITHOUT” pay, and I’m sure we all know what that means.
I refuse to get on a political rant here because I want the story to be about my friend JANET, but if I let myself, I could go bat shit crazy about the health care system in this country. I have to leave that alone or else I’d have to become a certified card carrying wacko and end up in a facility somewhere. The whole thing is so scary, bizarre, and even immoral.
What is it going to take to find a way for “all of us to take care of all of us”?
It just makes me crazy.
Going back to my friend Janet’s story, she has gone through the chemo, is recuperating from the surgery as best she can. There are health issues with her intestines that will NEVER ever be resolved, and she takes medication for the cancer, probably for the rest of her life.
I know there are tens of thousands of stories much worse than Janet’s but I have to look at the situation right under my nose, so let’s just follow Janet’s for now.
In the middle of all this, she now has the absurd situation of having debt collectors call her day and night, forcing her into finally filing for BANKRUPTCY.
Excuse my French, but are you freaking kidding me? As many of us might say, WTF?
The reason I’m telling Janet’s story is because I want people to really know and understand what that simple clique really means.
“NEVER GIVE UP”
Janet gets up every day just knowing she is going to have to kick butt all day just to stay alive and then she has to deal with the minutae of everyday life. But, she doesn’t complain, no poor me’s, no Debbie downer talk, no pity parties (at least none that a couple of Yeagers can’t handle.)
I think I handled my TAZ journey as best as I could. I tried to keep a sense of humor and I didn’t want to get into the WHY Me’s, but I need to tell you I have no idea what kind of a basket case I might be if I was dealing with half the stuff Janet is.
So all I can say is please say a prayer for my friend Janet, the way I pray for her, myself, and so many millions more that are dealing the best they can with this ugly monster.
How as a country or a planet we figure out how to combat this thing, I don’t know. When I think of the trillions of dollars, the mind boggling research, the personal and professional energy and commitment dedicated to wiping this devil off of the planet, I just don’t understand what it’s going to take. I have my theories, but they are so complicated I can’t even articulate them to myself much less anyone else.
The base of my theory is that maybe we are barking up the wrong tree. Maybe it isn’t how do we fix this after the fact, but how do we prevent this from happening IN THE FIRST PLACE. I think we have to reverse so much that we’ve become accustomed to, it would take forever. That makes me sad.