As a survivor of a rare Stage 4 Cancer, I felt moved to tell my story in hopes it may inspire others going through this illness, or their caretakers. Share my happier times as a kid in New York, moving to Kansas City, Missouri, then on to Lenexa, Kansas. I had two incidents that should have claimed my life, and one that should have claimed my husband's. I figure we were saved for a reason; perhaps to touch people in a way that was helpful and heartfelt. This is basically a condensed version of my life - the good with the bad, the happy with the sad. You will be with me every step of the way during my bout with the devil. It has been close to five years since I have been in remission, and look forward to every birthday and Relay for Life event. Two months before publishing, my sainted mother passed away. This is the only picture I have of me during my entire ordeal ( and bald ). *I wanted to do something to give back, so a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Leukemia-Lymphoma Society and Cancer Action of Overland Park, Kansas.
It started out like any ordinary life; at least I thought so. I figured every kid on my block and in my school was just like me. You know, happily married parents, siblings, pets, church on Sunday in matching outfits their mom made, followed by the much anticipated trip to McDonalds…stuff like that. Life was so simple in the mid ‘50s in New York. Summertime meant Jones Beach and Coney Island. Too much fun! Sand in your britches for days, carnival rides and cotton candy till you puked. In the early ‘60s Dad got a promotion so we moved to Kansas City, where I totally did not fit in. Picture this - starting out in the 4th grade at a new school, in a new state, in a new frilly dress with a horrible haircut. “The Pixie” - basically a short, boyish hairdo with stupid long sideburns. Just awful! To make bad matters worse, I was a chubby kid who talked 100 miles a minute. During my “teenage angst” years that followed, I always thought I was blessed, or led a sort of charmed life. I believed God existed, but took my sweet time becoming a true “believer” by asking Jesus into my life. I was having WAY too much fun partying! I thought if I became a Christian, I would never have fun again my entire life. I was the one putting on eye makeup during the sermon or passing notes to my friends when everyone else was praying. I already knew I was going to Hell!! In high school I was accepted in all cliques, as there was not one for people like me – whatever that means. I had friends in the jocks, the nerds, the 2%ers, the freaks, the choir, the band, the artsy-fartsy’s, and whoever was left. I was funny, so all types of people liked me, I guess.Fast forward to the late ‘70s. I was selling wholesale liquor (go figure) and met and dated a chef I sold to. I thought that was it. I had dated a lot of losers and felt I was approaching the spinster age, so figured I’d better get hitched – quickly! At that time I thought I would never have the daughter I always wanted. I conceived on my 32nd birthday. She was born in ‘86. I divorced him in ’88.I was so grateful to be alive and for having my daughter safe, that my priorities changed. I truly looked at the same things in a different way. I often pondered on the idea of praying about finding my Mr. Right....I was no longer the blushing bride. More like the bulging cow. After that…rheumatoid arthritis. I woke one day to a totally stiff body, with fat, puffy feet, and hands like hooves. The paramedics would not let me see my dad, as they were on his chest trying to revive him. They wheeled him past me on the gurney and into the ambulance. I knew by looking at him he was gone. I had to stop my horrific pain so I could take care of my mom.that was the weekend he was going to tell Mom she had Alzheimer’s, right? Great Easter. Here we were making funeral plans instead of eating Dad’s famous green bean casserole. Following this tragedy, we began the long process of dealing with Mom’s progressive illness. Unbeknownst to him, he would wake up one day in excruciating, unexplainable pain throughout his entire body. The doctor said that the illness would have killed a weaker man. There was no cure, only hope. He spent two weeks in the hospital in the dark. Light was too painful. Was someone watching over him? Was he meant to survive for some greater purpose? He would tell me, “If you ever lose your job, we are so screwed.” Well guess what? I lost my job. And yes, we were screwed, but not forever. Every time life sent me a challenge, there was always something better waiting for me. They say when one door closes, God opens a window.Seven weeks after opening my doors, I was struck down with enormous head pain. I was misdiagnosed a year earlier when I found two small lumps at the base of my neck. one day I am just fine, the next I am writhing in pain and had to be in a wheelchair if I wanted to go further than 30 feet. Why was this happening to me? What was wrong? Just kill me, please. Put me out of my misery.If you have ever heard those words, “YOU HAVE CANCER,” then you know exactly how I felt. I was sure it was my arthritis back with a vengeance. No way I had cancer! That happened to other people.Anything that could collect dust was taken down, packed up, or thrown out. I was pretty much the “girl in a bubble.”Within seconds, my body was a foot off the bed shaking violently. I threw up like in the Exorcist and screamed, “I’m freezing. I’m freezing!” Three nurses came running in and laid several warm blankets over me and then laid on top of me to try and calm me down. My teeth almost shattered right out of my mouth.One week each month I was neutropenic – which meant I had no white blood cells. With no antibodies to fight off infection, I had to be completely protected and not be in public or even go outside. Any germs could potentially kill me during that week.I stayed “up” for my family as they were falling apart around me. , I remained positive and only went down the “poor me” road once or twice. I am certain my strength came from God because I had always been the “why me” type, and yet that Linda never surfaced. Others around me found strength and were encouraged due to MY attitude. How about that!My doctor also told me that if my body did not react to the chemo cocktail created for this particular cancer, I would not have made it. Losing my hair was harder to deal with than the cancer itself. A woman’s hair and lashes are such a huge part of her vanity and identity..during my battle with weight gain after getting married, the tubes being tied, and then a few years later a total hysterectomy…I would pray for help with weight loss. I would often say, “Whatever it takes, Lord, whatever it takes to lose my fatness!” Should have been a bit more specific, as the next thing I knew, I had cancer (OK, this was probably just a mere coincidence, but it makes for a good story!)By October, I had just enough strength to return to my store. As an owner, 10 months away from a new retail shop in a new center is NOT a good thing. Too much was spent on advertising over the prior 10 months and I was starting to feel the pressure of ownership. I witnessed the money slowly being sucked out of the account, like the life that was sucked out of my body for so long.I started wondering if I survived to inspire people somehow. Was my purpose on earth to help others go through this battle? If so, how would I do that? What did I know about anything?
As a survivor of a rare Stage 4 Cancer, I felt moved to tell my story in hopes it may inspire others going through this illness, or their caretakers. Share my happier times as a kid in New York, moving to Kansas City, Missouri, then on to Lenexa, Kansas. I had two incidents that should have claimed my life, and one that should have claimed my husband's. I figure we were saved for a reason; perhaps to touch people in a way that was helpful and heartfelt. This is basically a condensed version of my life - the good with the bad, the happy with the sad. You will be with me every step of the way during my bout with the devil. It has been five years since I have been in remission, and I look forward to every birthday and Relay for Life event. Two months before publishing, my sainted mother passed away. *I wanted to do something to give back, so a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Leukemia-Lymphoma Society and Cancer Action of Overland Park, Kansas.