October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. We’ve all seen the pink ribbon everywhere. On food wrappers, clothing, jewelry, ornaments and even the NFL is sporting pink. There are Breast Cancer Walks, Runs and fundraisers. But, this horrible disease is more than a month long event for many individuals. Here is one amazing author’s story of her battle with cancer.
I feel like an AA participant. Hi, my name is Liz Kreger and I’ve been actively participating in the GCB (Great Cancer Battle) for the past seventeen years. I’d say that pretty much makes me qualified to discuss the subject. Over the years I’ve been sliced, I’ve been diced, I’ve been radiated and chemoed with inches of my life. I guess you can call me a walking, talking breast cancer expert.
A lot of people seem to think that breast cancer is a disease that targets older women. Imagine my surprise when the biopsy came back positive. Me? Cancer? Naw! I was only 35 years old. I led a fairly healthy lifestyle (if you discounted the occasional junk food orgy I indulged in), worked out regularly and there was no family history.
It wasn’t even a lump that I found, but a dimple. Don’t know ‘bout you, but I’ve never had a doctor tell me to look for a dimple on your breast. They’ve always touted “do your self-examinations and watch for a lump”.
Within weeks I had the biopsy (involving numerous four-letter words on my part), a mastectomy and scheduled for chemo … just to be on the safe side.
Fast forward seven years to where I about to hit the golden year where I would be considered cancer free … the holy grail for any cancer survivor. You hit the seven year mark and you’re home free … considered cured, only having to go see your oncologist once a year. Absolute bliss for anyone going through the GCB. Then, out of the blue, my left hip began bugging me. What the hell? New tests were ordered and sonavabitch! The cancer had metastasized to my hip. This time we used radiation to knock it out.
I was carefully monitored after that and within two years, the little suckers were back again. Now we’re into heavy duty chemo. Six doses, once every three weeks. This is where I lost my hair (absolutely everywhere), endured a yucky feeling 24/7, lost 15 pounds (which was okay as far as I was concerned), and this is the one and only time I tossed my cookies. Peppermint is great for an upset stomach, by the way. This was followed by weekly infusions of Herceptin in an attempt to keep the cancer off … but no dice. Came back again and I went through a slightly stronger bout of chemo. Pissed me off, too, because I’d just gotten my hair back. Same deal as far as reactions go.
Now its 2012. I’ve lost count of how many recurrences I’ve had. Hell, I quit counting after fifteen. I’ve been on more types of chemo than I can remember and am still undergoing treatment. We’re to the point of recycling chemos that we’d tried in the past. I’ve outlasted the oncologist that I’d had for over fifteen years (he retired) and am now working with a younger oncologist who has a number of pretty good ideas. Don’t get me wrong. At this point, being a stage four cancer patient, I’m well aware of the fact that my doctors and I are playing the “Let’s see how long we can keep Liz alive game.” I’ll never live to see a cure, but you know what? I’m okay with that. I figure I’m gonna hang around long enough to give cancer a good run for its money … just because I’m a tenacious bitch.
It was while I was in remission that I began writing again. I joined Romance Writers of America and completed a half dozen books, two of which are published. Writing has become a part of my life … just as cancer has. The treatments I undergo cause excessive fatigue so writing sometimes has to take a backseat to rest. I also work full time, so between that, dealing with cancer and a family, making time to write can sometimes be a challenge.
I sincerely believe I’ve learned a lot about life going through the GCB. Compassion for one thing and patience. You learn to think of others and you learn to laugh. I’ve always said that I have twenty minutes to feel sorry for myself … then get over it. Life is too short to bemoan your fate. You deal with it, you overcome the obstacles and you go on. I’m a strong believer in a positive attitude.
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Liz Kreger currently has two books published with Samhain Publishing. Forget About Tomorrow and Promise for Tomorrow are romantic space operas. She’s also part of a project with a group of very talented authors who put together ENTANGLED, A PARANORMAL ANTHOLOGY. All proceeds are going to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and to date they’ve raised over $11,000.00 with that project. The short story she has with ENTANGLED is an offshoot of a contemporary paranormal which her agent is currently peddling and which hopefully will soon be published.
Bottom Line: When ever I’m around Liz Kreger, I’m filled with a sense of wonder, admiration and tremendous pride. I’m honored to call her friend.