Archive for the ‘Metastatic Cancer’ Category

Dec 30

“Helping Hands” Got Tiffany’s House Painted!

Tiffany is a beautiful single mommy of an 11-year-old daughter. And she’s fighting metastatic (stage 4) breast cancer. A few years ago, their family purchased a home that had been in foreclosure, and the mortgage payment is low.  Tiffany is unable to work, and finances are tight. But they’re making it.

Last summer, Tiffany received a letter from her homeowner’s association, telling her that she needed to have her home painted by a specific date. Where was THAT money going to come from? It seemed like an impossible situation to resolve.

Tiffany contacted Provision Project to ask if they could help. Provision Project’s “Helping Hands” program matches local small businesses with women in active treatment for breast cancer who need home and transportation services. A generous local painter talked to a generous paint company …. and off they went, saving her thousands of dollars! Tiffany’s home was painted in a few weeks, and she could rest easy, knowing her home value had increased and that it wouldn’t need to be painted again for many years.

If you know of a business in your area that would be interested in being on Provision Project’s “Helping Hands” list, please email Jan James at jan@provisionproject.org. This information is kept confidential and is only used when a need arises.

Dec 08

An Unexpected Christmas Gift

You’re a single mom.

You have four children.

You have one vehicle.

You have stage 4 breast cancer.

The news from the doctors isn’t good. You get word that the painful pleural effusion in your lungs means you need to have a catheter placed in your chest wall so the fluid causing your pain can drain.

And then your car breaks down. It has to be towed, leaving a puddle of coolant on the pavement where it was parked. The news from the mechanic isn’t good: $650. Where will THAT come from?

This is Rachel’s story. Rachel is 36 years old and has been living with breast cancer since 2013. Her kids, ages 16, 15, 12, and 6, have been living with breast cancer since then, too. They live in the Phoenix, Arizona, area.

When you have stage 4 breast cancer, treatment never stops. When one chemo regimen stops working, you’re switched to another one that you pray stops the progression of the disease.

And the bills pile up. Most likely, a stage 4 gal dramatically cuts her work hours back. Or she may have to stop working altogether. Rachel works 8 hours a week when she’s feeling up to it. She’s not up to working this month. As the sole breadwinner in her family, it’s an understatement to say that money is tight.

That’s where Provision Project steps in. Yes, we could just call the mechanic and pay the bill. But we know that people are inherently good-hearted. They would like to help, but they sometimes need to know HOW to help.

A member of our leadership team went to talk with the service manager at AAA Arizona in Mesa, the auto repair shop where Rachel’s car had been towed. He didn’t know Rachel’s story, so we shared it. And then we asked if we could work together to give Rachel and her kids a safe vehicle. We challenged him not to just think about repairing the coolant issue but to take a hard look at her vehicle and to repair what was essential on the car. He agreed to take a look at the vehicle and get back to us.

By the next day, Jeff, the AAA Arizona service manager, called us back to give us an update. Yes, the heater hose assembly needed to be replaced. He was willing to comp the service … and he had convinced his parts suppliers to comp the parts. Check. But there were a few more safety issues that needed to be handled. Control arms replaced. Check. Motor mounts replaced. Check. Sway bar bushings replaced. Check. Brake job. Check. Alignment. Check. Safe car. Check.

The repair came to $1964.68. Rachel’s cost?

ZERO.

Jeff caught the vision. In one day, he had moved mountains! Once he understood Rachel’s situation, he convinced his AAA management team and the folks at Factory Motor Parts and San Tan Ford to pitch in to help Rachel and her family.  He did what he could. And he made a difference in the lives of Rachel’s family. A BIG difference!

Provision Project was there when Rachel and the kids picked up her car from AAA Mesa. There wasn’t a dry eye in the shop. And today Rachel told us that the car now runs so quietly, she can’t even tell when it’s running. Now she can focus on her kids instead of her car problems. Merry Christmas, Rachel!

(Rachel still needs two front tires, but we’re working on that, too).

Provision Project’s Helping Hands Program matches women who need home or auto service with small local businesses in many industries. If you know of a business that would like to be considered as a Helping Hands partner, please email jan@provisionproject.org. Provision Project serves women across the country.

Oct 05

How Your Donations Have Helped a Single Mom

Janet Smith, and her daughter Arianna, moved to Charlotte, North Carolina in 2010.  In 2012, when Arianna was only 10, Janet was diagnosed with stage IV metastatic breast cancer after swelling in her right arm prompted her doctor to recommend a mammogram. Besides undergoing chemotherapy and having a bilateral mastectomy Janet has undergone rounds of radiation for brain tumors and surgery to remove a mass from her stomach. With all that she was going through she found that she also needed knee replacement surgery, which created a whole new set of problems for her.

Needless to say, Janet, who is a single mom and living in a state at the opposite end of the country from her family, suffered financial difficulties. Her career as a stockbroker was thriving when the nightmare started. She thought that she could continue working, but (more…)

Sep 07

This is Day One: Breast Cancer Journey

This is Day One: Breast Cancer Journey

 by Rachel Dubree

Rachel is a mom of four beautiful, brilliant, and talented children, a wife, daughter, sister, aunt, friend, drill sergeant, short-order cook, housekeeper, chauffeur, manager, peacekeeper, nurturer, cheerleader, role model, trendsetter, innovator, mentor, leader, teacher, sports fan, prayer warrior and Jesus lover.  And she just happens to have breast cancer. 

It’s a beautiful morning! Breeze is blowing. Sun is shining. Birds are chirping. Pups are wagging. God is still good. I still have cancer.

In fact, I have been aware that the beast is residing in my person for 2,542 days now. In that time, I have done endless loads of laundry, driven countless miles to and from schools, attended multiple open houses and parent teacher conferences, cheered from the bleachers at a gazillion athletic, musical and academic events, prepared hundreds of meals, updated the family calendar for months on end in everyone’s specific color and run miles upon miles on my own two feet. I have laughed and made love. I have raised my hands in worship and prayed. I have danced. Boy, have I danced. I have been fine. (more…)

Jul 06

I am sorry I didn’t beat cancer

by Uzmamd

Yep, sorry, my apologies, with a diagnosis of metastasis four months ago, I didn’t beat cancer.

Every one said, “You are going to beat it”, some said, “If anyone can, you can!!”. They cheered me on as I endured one treatment after another and I kept fighting “like a girl”. I was told I will kick cancer’s ass and will show cancer who is the boss. I rode the wave of positivity and determination. I believed that I will beat it too. I thrived on the fantasy of the cancer submitting to my will and strength.

Songs, inspirational quotes, memes, greeting cards and stories, all led to me to the one end point, “beating cancer”. Being very much a type A personality, I accepted the challenge, I said to myself “I will beat cancer”. Except for one open book exam, I have hardly failed at something in life. So why not this!

However, two and a half years after my first breast cancer diagnosis, I was diagnosed with metastatic disease in the lymph nodes in my chest and some spots in my liver. Shocked and traumatized only begins to define of what I experienced. It was a very hard and exhausting process to come to acceptance.

Broken and beaten, it felt like a failure as if I let down every one who thought I would “knock the shit out of cancer”. I was no longer the example of how stage 3 can be a success story and inspiration.  As a doctor I understood that it was nothing that I did, to bring back my cancer. But I still felt a sense of shame.

Statistics indicate that 30 percent of those are diagnosed with early stage cancer will develop metastasis. I had just held on to 70 percent much more dearly. Medical science currently doesn’t know the exact mechanism through which cancer cells find home in other organs of the body.

The time had come to let go of being a “survivor” and on to a “thriver” or a “lifer”, the terms preferred by metastatic community since we ultimately end up not surviving the disease.

When I was diagnosed the first time, one of the things that helped me very much was supporting others with breast cancer. I did this so their journey could be easier and smoother through the knowledge and experience I had. I wrote blogs and participated actively in online groups.

Since the recurrence happened, I often wondered if I scared other survivors, if they looked at me and worried about getting metastatic cancer and sometime I even wondered if they actively avoided me. I, the face of incurable metastatic cancer, everything that everyone  diagnosed with breast cancer is worried about. The fear of dying of this terminal illness that has no cure. I have no cure.

Having metastatic illness is an emotionally isolating experience, and a lot of women I know tend to withdraw from others after metastasis because it is hard for others to understand our subjective experience…the experience of living life with an incurable, relentless illness with never-ending treatments. It is so overwhelming for others; they don’t want to hear much as it reactivates their own fears of mortality. I have experienced that from some of the survivor friends who want to keep the distance from me but I understand that they want to contain their anxieties of ending in my shoes. I didn’t want to horrify others.

I often wondered what people think when they look at me and if and how sorry they feel for me. I imagine something to the effect of … “Oh this poor young woman with young children who has this illness that has no cure”.

Me and my metastatic cancer.

I remembered when I was newly diagnosed, the word “metastasis” used to send chills up my spine. I used to dread my facebook feed on Mondays, which are  #metsmonday. I did not want to be reminded that my cancer could metastasize, although at stage 3 with high grade cancer cells, I knew inside that the odds of it happening are very high.

One of my stage 4 friends has lived on with bone metastasis for 11 years, she gave me hope but I still would at times try and block her out of my mind, for my own sanity, so I could worry less about me. It sounds selfish but the fear of recurrence is haunting.

I also wanted denial so bad…deny that it could happen to me. I convinced myself that I am doing everything possible to reduce the chances of my recurrence. From good diet to exercise to supplements and yoga, lowering stress and getting enough sleep and all the medications and treatments, I did all possible to lower the chance of cancer taking root within me again.

But as time went on, I also worked hard on accepting what having had cancer meant. It meant accepting life that you have no control over…Life which transitions between sweet fantasies and harsh realities. I got used to those ups and downs. I saw my friends with stage four cancers, kick each day in the butt and beat cancer on a daily basis. My denial softened gradually and I thought, “if it (metastasis )happens I will be ok” . I celebrated every clean scan and a good oncologist visit but the fear of metastasis lingered.

And then it happened. I got another, “I am so sorry “ call from my doctor and I was devastated. Besides coping with my illness, I was sad that I lost my “credibility” as a cancer warrior who had “beaten” cancer.  I was not longer a “success story”.

During all of the angst, I received this message from a fellow survivor whom I got to “know” via Facebook.

It said,

“Until I “met” you, I could not think of stage 4.

I’d panic, hyperventilate

Start to decompensate.

Then I met you.

You are showing me, with grace, passion and humor how this can be done.

You are something of a role model to me.

Doing this stage 4 before I do, if I do.

I’m not so afraid anymore. I have someone doing this ahead of me and I know how to do it.

If I ever get metastasis, I will have someone to emulate….and I will think of you the whole time.

Forgive me if this bugs you or hurts you? I just admire you so much and thank you and God for putting me in my life, but I am also so very, very sorry for your cancer.”

And then I realized I really don’t need to “beat cancer”; I have to however beat life at its game, one day at a time.

I am sorry I didn’t beat cancer but now it really doesn’t matter because I am busy kicking life and showing others how to reconcile with stage 4 breast cancer.