Early morning. Five o’clock. I am alone in a small room. I stare at the wall facing my bed. Chipped and battered from beds being pushed in and out. The only decoration a faded cork board and a sign advising one how to wash your hands. Nothing beautiful to look at. Nothing to bring me up from the black abyss. I am alone with various tubes attached to my body. I weep tears of utter despair. A few years ago my breast cancer returned. The first encounter I had a right breast lumpectomy. This time a mastectomy in the other breast. I am alone. Feeling so sorry for myself when my nurse enters my room with a gift wrapped package. Pillows! Soft, comfortable pillows covered in a happy flowered pattern. Pillows to give me under the arm and breast protection. In that moment the sun came out.
I’m smiling. I’m not alone.
The package contained pillows hand sewn by a group of woman who are members of the Delta Hospital Auxiliary. The hospital is located in Ladner, British Columbia. They are post-operative pillows tailored for post mastectomy surgery. The pillows are a gift from the Delta Hospital Auxiliary. These amazing women known as THE PILLOW PALS cut, sew, stuff and package these pillows. A thoughtful card with encouraging words are enclosed with the pillows.
I am giving back.
I am a proud member of the Delta Hospital Auxiliary. I search for wonderful fabrics to be sewn into pillows by dedicated woman known with great affection as THE PILLOW PALS.
I am giving back.
Three years ago I was diagnosed once again with breast cancer. I had a mastectomy. After surgery my treatment was oral Exemestene – an anti-cancer hormone treatment not normally given to woman over eighty years old. Two years of Exemestene and the many serious side-effects of this drug became so debilitating, the quality of my life so miserable, I made the choice to stop treatment.
One of the unpleasant side effects was painful burning and numbness in my feet and legs at night. My feet became numb and I was having trouble walking, climbing stairs, anything relating to balance. It was diagnosed as peripheral neuropathy. I received little help from the oncology neurologist other than suggesting adding a B Multiple supplement to the vitamin supplements I was taking. This was the beginning of my extensive research on treatment of chemotherapy induced peripheral sensory neuropathy.
Courtesy Google I researched many North American sites reporting positive results treating people with type two Diabetes with large amounts of Vitamin B 12 and Alpha laporic acid (an antioxidant, ) but little information on chemotherapy induced neuropathy. The information I required was found on Dutch and German medical sites. I discussed the decision to add vitamin B12 and alpha laporic acid to my supplement regime with my family doctor and my nephrologist.
It has been just three months since I started taking B12 and alpha laporic acid and I have been able to sleep with less burning pain. Physiotherapists gave me exercises to strength my feet and legs and improve my balance. Periperal Neuropathy weakens the muscles. I’ve made major changes in my diet with emphases on fresh fruits and vegetables and protein. The Foundation for Peripheral Neuropathy is an excellent source of information. But, it is important to be your own advocate. Do extensive research and question everything. And most important to discuss your choices with your family doctor and not self diagnose.
On the most positive note – my research has improved the quality of life for my younger sister. She has type two diabetes and had never been diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy. She discussed treatment with her physician and after adding vitamin B 12 and alpha laporic acid to her vitamin supplements she ended years of suffering and has absolutely no burning night pain in her feet.
It is not my nature to be so open about something so intensely personal. Cancer has been my unwanted companion for eleven years. If this experience helps just one person that is what this post is about, and I will have made a difference for some one.