Tuesday, 16 August 2016

The cancer diaries: Choosing life

Last December, this little lady had major cancer surgery to remove a tumor underneath her tongue.


It's been a tough road back for Jennette who has spent more than ten years as a caregiver for both her husband and her father. Both men lost their battles. Roger died a year before Jennette was diagnosed with cancer. Her father Jim died just a few months ago.

I'm not sure what was worse, losing the two loves of her life, or having a doctor take a backhoe to her gob taking most of her soft tissue and teeth with it. Honestly, I think it was the loss of love that hurt her the most.

She quipped a few months ago that now, the only men in her life were her doctors and her undertaker.

During the battle with cancer, Jennette was struggling to care for her dad and visited him daily while he was in palliative care at St. Vincent's Hospital. The good news was that her doctor declared her cancer-free, the bad news was that the oncologist recommended radiation "just in case".

I took Jennette to the hospital dentist who announced she would have to have all her teeth pulled and that, after radiation, she would not be able to have bottom teeth as the tissue would be destroyed. The dentist was nice enough but I got the impression he really just saw her as an old person who would have to settle for what her speech pathologist described as "the new normal".

A lot of us would have take the treatment, but Jennette decided to choose quality of life over radiation. She said all she wanted was to be able to eat the foods she loved instead of the gruel that she was expected to blenderize.

Frankly, at the time, I thought she should have had the radiation but I was wrong and cowardly while she was brave. She decided to explore all her options and found expert dentists at GumDocs who say they can give her back her smile. She will have dental implants in the bottom that will cover the damage that was done by her surgeon to save her life. And she will have a new set of uppers that will give her the Joe Biden grin.



When it's all said and done, by Christmas, Jennette will be able to enjoy turkey dinner without having to put it in a blender.

I am so excited for her. She kicked cancer's ass, and lived to tell the tale. She put aside her own health to care for Jim, and she stared down all the medical professionals who treated her like a patient instead of a person.

Well done, Jennette. You deserved better in your Third Act.










1 comment:



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