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UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES

Unintended – not intended; unplanned
Consequence – the effect, result, or outcome of something occurring earlier.

Cancer sucks. I so wish there was a cure or a way to just make it never appear in the lives of anyone. The unfortunate reality is it does appear. It is painful, heartbreaking and ugly while at the same time having the ability to be inspiring, encouraging and beautiful.

As I sit here I am nearing the 3 year date from my surgery – the date when the surgeon removed cancer from my body … it was at this juncture he also removed both of my breasts and all the lymph nodes under my right arm. This is the date I use as my official cancerversary…. Some use the date of diagnosis some the date all treatment ended. To each his own. I have for the past few years and continue to live in 3 month intervals. Actually about 10-11 weeks of living… followed by a week of wonder, anxiety and worry… then when there is good news a live again for a while. This is the pattern of many cancer patients… I am still dealing with cancer… or more accurately the reconstructing of my breasts. None of my journey has been easy. Some have had it harder than I and some an easier path. Much of this is dependent on the type and stage of cancer. While some of it is also dependant on the medical professionals and the body dealing with the disease.

I didn’t choose cancer. WHO WOULD? Unfortunately it chose me.

I trusted my DR. Not something I am good at now…. Hindsight is 20/20

I did fight, still am really – since I have some insurance company battles I need to undertake from treatment I have already received and some that I need. Sometimes the battle and magnitude gets to me for what I have to deal with and what others have to go through as well. I HATE that some people have to literally fight to get a chance to survive. This is CRAZY!

I have met some of the most amazing women in the world. Developed deep, substantial friendships with women who are strong, brave, encouraging, young, old, thin, shapely, fearless, fearful, mothers, daughters, sisters, wives, friends…. Each unique individuals traveling similar journeys – many trying to do this with others as it is harder doing the big stuff alone.

I am surviving and I am doing things to reach out and attempt to help others along the way. I have been volunteering countless hours for the Phoenix affiliate of Susan G Komen. I did some volunteer work for the Young Survival Coalition. I was asked to lead a cancer support group at my church and have been doing this for over a year. I am active with women on a Facebook support group and I try to plan events to help us all connect with each other. I have done walks and relays for multiple organizations. People who know me and my story have connected me with others along the way. I am thankful for the chance to help others. These activities help me probably more than others often times.

I recently made a huge error in the eyes of a friend. It wasn’t intentional…

So around my home it is a joke that I got cancer and it made me popular (in a very small circle)…. LOL I have most definitely been given some unique opportunities and have the honor to be a voice and face against this disease in some big and little ways. I have a voice and I have a story – some would call it compelling, motivational, inspiring, funny, sad…. I call it the truth.

I have been lovingly titled ‘How I Met Your Mothers’ favorite fan. This is because of relationships, lifelong ones with some and new with others.

I was the 2010 Komen Bat Girl – my husband wrote a beautiful piece and it/I was chosen by a panel of celebrities, professionals and media personnel who did not know me to receive this honor.

A friend of mine had participated in an event with the NFL- Cardinals/American Cancer Society in 2009, when the event came about in 2010 she did it again and when they needed more survivors she gave them my name. So I walked on the field at the stadium watched the coin toss and dance/cheered with my ‘sister survivors’.

I was asked to assist with Cancer in the Faith Community conference the Wellness Community put on last year – because of my personal religious beliefs and familiarity with events, event planning and relationships (initiated in another cancer support group I attend).

I was contacted by the Komen 3 day in 2010 and asked to carry one of the Flags in the opening and closing ceremonies. I don’t know how this happened – it just did. I won’t apologize for saying yes. It was an honor.

A Phoenix Photographer was doing a special ‘Celebrate Sexy Survivor’ Photo Shoot contest in October of 2010. Honestly few people entered and when they counted the votes in the end – I had the most therefore I was given this great prize. ANY and EVERY survivor had the chance to participate. It is not my fault that MANY chose not to enter. So yes I won the prize, enjoyed the opportunity, had fun being pampered and my hubby spent way too much money buying some photos.

As a survivor and volunteer with Komen I was given the chance to model at the ‘Night of Hope’ event for the new MD Anderson Cancer Center opening – so I did.

A survivor group I am connected were invited to participate in a Warrior Calendar … many of us got the information and many of us made the call and some became models (6 of us in the group did). I also volunteered to assist with getting things under way for a big event they are doing, help prep before the event and then secured 16 additional volunteers for the big event most of these people my family and friends outside of the group on FB and those few in the group who are volunteering were friends I had connected to the group. Yet very few of those people who did not get to be in the calendar this year jumped up to volunteer or assist in securing additional volunteers. Is it only worth your time to volunteer or give if you also get something directly tangible out of it? I hope that is not the mentality as it wasn’t and will never be my motivation.

So here is where I failed miserably… I had received notification of an event out of state on the same page and time as others in the group. I did not initially register to try and participate because I was over 40. When I was at lunch with friends who were also outside the posted age and still applied and encouraged me to, I went ahead and did it, I actually completed the registration sitting next to them at a table. I was too late the (22) spots were filled on a first come first served basis (nothing scientific, not story based, not survivorship specific, not a lottery, auction or panel of judges). I was put on a wait list in case of cancelation. Periodically over the past few months I was in contact both inbound and outbound regarding the wait list. Last Tuesday they said they still had not received any cancelations, Wednesday they did (it was someone I knew). When this happened I sent an email and said I knew it was last minute and wondered since the cancelation was from AZ, was it possible to change the name as I still would love to attend the event. I was told they were not sure but they asked for my ID information, which I sent to them in the late afternoon on Wednesday. They never said there was someone else slotted to go, implied it was much too late and they were not going to fill it, that there was another plan in place, that they were going to auction the spot off during the next 24 hours… or anything of the sort. The next morning while I was in Physical Therapy (for the cancer induced lymphedema in my right arm) they called (at 9 am AZ time) and told me they had been able to make the change and would love for me to come. They did not say it took an act of congress or that they appealed to God to move heaven and earth, nor that it was next to impossible and required hours of time and effort. So I was super excited. The event was in Nashville, TN. Home of Country Music which is my favorite….

Later in the day after volunteering at a Komen event, I went home to pack and get ready for the trip. I see posts from the friend who was not able to go. Talking about someone being selfish, that God was watching this type of horrible behavior and saying some other cryptic derogatory stuff – I didn’t understand that she was talking about me… see I guess I am also dense. She finally tells/texts me she is hurt and I call her to talk to her. As it was never my intention to hurt her. In fact there was a point in time where I was one of very few people who had her back and I spent a great deal of time trying to help her, support her and listen to her even to be her voice… She told me I was being insensitive, it was wrong of me to want to go in her place, and that it was obvious I was mad at the others who were getting to go. The reality is I was never mad – a bit envious or jealous (hell yeah) as it seemed like a dream trip. What reason would I have to be mad? I was excited that friends of mine got to go. Maybe I didn’t handle it the way she or someone else would have… but I would have wanted someone I knew who was a good friend and person to be able to go. I would have suggested that person take my place knowing they were already on the waiting list. We talked for quite a while, I listened to her, understood her view and cried, I apologized for not seeing the big picture before I acted and at the end of the conversation she said it was fine she forgave me. I even offered to call the event people in the morning and cancel, she said to go and have fun, they have already made the changes. The next morning when issues occurred with one of the other girls I asked the flight attendant if I could get off the plane and let her go, she said that wasn’t possible the flight was completed and ready to go.

I too was hurt greatly by this incident. Because before I knew there was a problem I saw that one friend was in the area where I live literally 3 miles away (lives probably 45-60 minutes from here) and offered to meet her and say hi. I never got a response back. Later that same day I found out that both of these people were in the area and so I was doubly hurt. Then after all is said and done on Monday I found out that they actually were less than 1 mile from me (stopping in to say hi to another friend of ours from the group)… I make it a point when I am in the area where many of these ladies live to try to connect and visit. Ironically she knew I had been hurt greatly earlier this month by this same type of thing.

I was also told that many people in the group do not think it is fair that I do these things and that lots of the girls are talking about it. Funny thing is much of this is stuff that I have done or been connected to prior to there being a group…. And often times it is not related to the group in any way. It is so easy for people to spin a story to have the intended opinion or outcome they want without sharing all the etails and information… I feel for people who do not realize the 3 sides to every story or conflict… ‘a person (1 side) – another person (1 side) – and the truth (which is most often somewhere in the middle)’.

In my heart I get the feeling that there is still some anger and animosity (i am hopeful there is no longer any rallying of the troops against me). But more importantly I hope time does heal all wounds… I cannot change the past I can only move forward. I will continue to work, volunteer, connect and care in the same ways. It is who I am. I am not perfect. I am human. If you feel I am a horrible person for what occurred, I am sorry. I apologize to you too. But sometimes I default to things happen for a reason.

The weekend was filled with both joy and sadness as well as many tears on both ends of the spectrum. It allowed me to recognize the internal scars along with the external ones. The words to the song ‘Address in the Stars’ brought me to sobbing tears …. You see the 30th of this month (this Friday) will mark the 2 year point where my nephew took his own life. Too Young. I Never got to say good bye at least not when he could hear me and respond. I had hours in the hospital to look at him, touch him, talk to him, make him look better (for my brothers sake)… but he didn’t see me, he didn’t reach back, there were no words only the sounds of machines breathing for him (keeping him alive until his organs could be given to others), and it didn’t matter how he looked anymore.

I stumbled across your old picture today
I could barely breathe
The moment stopped me cold,
Grabbed me like a thief.
I dialed your number, but you wouldn’t be there
I knew the whole time, but it’s still not fair
I just wanted to hear your voice,
I just needed to hear your voice.

Chorus:
What do I do with all I need to say
So much I wanna tell you everyday
Oh it breaks my heart,
I cry these tears in the dark
I write these letters to you,
But they get lost in the blue,
‘Cause there’s no address in the stars.

Verse 2:
Now I’m drivin’
Through the pitch black dark
I’m screaming at the sky
Oh cause it hurts so bad
Everybody tells me
Oh all I need is time
Then the mornin’ rolls in
And it hits me again
And that aint nothin’ but a lie.

Chorus:
What do I do with all I need to say
So much I wanna tell you everday
Oh it breaks my heart,
I cry these tears in the dark
I write these letters to you,
But they get lost in the blue,
‘Cause there’s no address in the stars.

Verse 3:
Without you here with me,
I don’t know what to do.
I’d give anything
Just to talk to you
Oh it breaks my heart,
Oh it breaks my heart,
But all I can do
Is write these letters to you,
But there’s no address in the stars.

I would like to thank the amazing group at ‘Women Rock For The Cure’ for the chance to attend the event. I had a great time meeting you all and with my other Phoenix ladies. I also met some of the most amazing and inspirational young women out there. I would not have had this chance were it not for your hard work and commitment to help others in such a passionate and loving manner. I look forward to the chance to come back next year to volunteer so that other young women will have the same opportunity that I did.

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