June 11, 2000

Daughter's cancer

On Oct. 30, 2008, my daughter learned she had breast cancer. She was 24, living 575 miles from home and just promoted to general manager of a pizza place.

Within weeks of diagnosis, my husband and I encouraged my daughter and her boyfriend to leave their jobs in Tennessee and move in with us. That would let her concentrate on battling late stage three cancer.

We were sure he would quickly find a job, not knowing how much further Michigan's economy would sink. We were grateful for support of family and friends. We were grateful I could become a first time, stay-at-home mom as I had just accepted a buyout from the news organization where I worked for almost 30 years.

My father died of cancer the day my daughter's care plan was finalized. Six months later, a niece was diagnosed with cancer, caught in a very early stage and her treatment is done. A good friend has started her cancer fight. Make that two friends. Both now in the countdown to five  years cancer free.

Until my daughter's diagnosis, I was like many who did not realize how many twenty-somethings face cancer. Resources like the Young Survival Coalition, with a Detroit-area chapter, the Everything Changes book and blog and Mothers Supporting Daughters with Breast Cancer help. So have the Girl Scouts.

Girl Scouts is why my daughter's cancer was found. She was a Junior Girl Scout when her troop went to the health fair and learned to feel for breast lumps on fake breasts they got to take home. They were told to perform checks monthly.

My daughter listened and in July 2008 she discovered a lump in her left breast.

Doctor knows best

Her doctor sent her home with vitamins and the advice to watch it. She watched it grow as she grew more tired. She figured the fatigue came from the pressures of learning her new job as general manager of a pizza store.

In October, the doctor reluctantly sent her for an ultrasound as he did not see the value of a mammogram for a woman her age. Within hours of the ultrasound, my daughter underwent a needle biopsy "just to be safe."

Five days later, her doctor reluctantly delivered the news no one is prepared to hear: "You have cancer." Later, we would learn it was at least late stage three.

No need for mom

My daughter called me while I was helping girls learn to edit video in preparation for the 51st national Girl Scout convention.

She's a lifelong Girl Scout who earned the highest honor, the Gold Award, and been a convention delegate. She knew how excited I was to be a part of the Storyweaving project and the discovery of what is essential to the success of the Girl Scout movement by the members, for the members, through the members.

My daughter said I should stay through the convention, then drive to her place in time for her first appointment with a breast cancer specialist. The doctor who delayed the diagnosis for four months pulled hard to get her into the specialist so quickly.

I had honored her first wish, not being there for the biopsy report. This time, I listened to my heart and left the next morning, driving miles to get to her place on Juliette Low's birthday. Juliette Low, the founder of Girl Scouts, the woman who died of breast cancer.

She writes, I write

She blogs over on myspace as CrazyKatFaygo. She said I could share the address.

Here are some of my posts about her cancer journey:

October 2008
November 2008

December 2008

January 2009

February 2009
March 2009

April 2009

May 2009
June 2009
July 2009
August 2009
September 2009
October 2009

March 2010
August 2010


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