Blogs > Ann DeMatteo's Why Us?

Since my breast cancer diagnosis on June 9, 2008, I have spent a fairly decent amount of time wondering "why me?" I would like to hear from you about your cancer stories. Let's create a dialogue of learning, sharing and hope.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Radiation Graduation

How can something so unpleasant be pleasant? That was my experience with radiation. As you may have seen in my column, I thought radiation was the toughest of all of the breast cancer therapies. For me, it was the one therapy that made me think daily about my cancer diagnosis. After the technologists set you up on the table, the four-food lead door closes and you're on the table alone in your own thoughts.
On Thursday, I received my certificate of completion on the Varian Linear Accelerator, a machine that treated me 30 times, the last seven with cone therapy that lasted a minute. The previous 23 treatments covered five parts of my chest and armpit area and caused a very big sunburn. I am now peeling under my arm and it's uncomfortable.
It didn't help that in the course of things that I came down with my annual spring case of bronchitis. The infection went away after a week of antibiotics, but I'm still coughing and my chest is still wheezing. Not pleasant.
But what made my radiation therapy pleasant were the technologists who treated me, Roseann Perito and Shalene Neeman, and others who popped in to assist from time to time. As I've said in my columns, I have been blessed to have had many kind and caring medical professionals helping me during my breast cancer treatment. I don't know how they do it, but all the doctors, nurses and technicians I have come across are so caring and compassionate. What jobs they do.
Happy Mother's Day, all.


Blogger Mary Ann said...

I just found out about your blog in the Register. I am sorry about your diagnosis and what you have had to deal with. You seem to be a very strong person and you kept on working! I too am a breast cancer survivor diagnosed Nov 9th 2006. I just recently had my last reconstruction surgery for my bilateral mastectomy. Breasts do not make a person, but they sure as heck make a woman or your perception of yourself as a woman. It was one of the most difficult decisions to make in my life so far. But along with that difficulty came the realization that this is what I had to do to survive. Chemo and radiation were also part of the plan. I am cancer free since the day they removed it May 2007. I know the physical and the emotional scars will linger for many years. You are always asking "why me?", but why anyone? I still have my meltdowns and can't believe what I have been through. Sometimes I feel like I am floating through life right now wanting the old me back. I still face tiring easily and the consequences of chemo. I quit steady work to take care of myself and because of that my family is still recovering financially from this ordeal. It effects every aspect of your life and those you love. Although it is a negative experience, there have been positive outcomes in my life. It has brought me closer to certain people. I saw how wonderful and giving my friends were. It opened up a job opportunity that I love. I guess each day is a baby step towards acceptance of the "new me". Thanks for reading my post and good luck to you.

May 18, 2009 at 10:48 AM 
Blogger Ann DeMatteo said...

Hi Mary Ann,
Thanks for writing. I don't look at the blog very often...I'm usually swamped with tons of work covering Hamden and North Haven, my regular beat.
Frankly, I don't know what I would have done if I didn't work throughout the whole ordeal. I focused more on the job than the pain. Emotional pain and the pain in the neck stuff as well...going to chemo, going to the oncologist, going to radiation, which was most depressing of all. I'm probably going to have my left breast off, in an effort to keep the cancer away. It's so scary to think it can come back at any time.
I don't know if I'll ever heal from the emotional scars. I'm told that things will eventually get back to normal.

May 23, 2009 at 9:31 PM 
Blogger Sharon said...

Thank you for sharing your blog...I was a teenage daughter of a mother who did not survive breast cancer back in the days (1965) when there really was not the refined therapy they have now. I am a holistic coach for women who have cancer. (psychotherapist/34 years) Everyone has to figure out their approach to healing cancer. I believe in looking at the root cause as the way to make one's way back to health.
What I have found from my own inner guidance and working with women is this:

We empower ourselves when look at how we create our illnesses. All of us have cancer cells that could grow. What is the difference? I like to start always with: When we find cancer, the first thing to ask is "What is the gift?" There is a gift regardless of what the illness is. An illness in the body whether it is cancer or something else can begin to heal itself when we are able to ask ourselves "What has been the gift?" Has the gift caused me to get out of a marriage that I have not been happy in? Has it caused me to get out of a job that I was working strenuously in and causing myself great stress? Did I get permission to sleep more often because I needed to? Did I get permission to hug and kiss my children because I may not be here forever... I want to appreciate every last minute with them. I wouldn't do that without cancer."

It is a bit reverse psychology but it is the first step in curing the cancer because you ask "What gift does it bring me?" If you feel weak from chemo then you give yourself permission to call on loved ones and let them take complete care of call on a husband who has been distant and call on him to take care of you...not worrying if you are being a burden. People are meant to serve you and you are meant to let your problems lay. Everyone has people in their lives who are meant to serve. And you need to know that you are meant to receive. They will be there for you if you say "I need you and You have to take care of these things for me." This asking for help and receiving it is highly important.

It takes years of being out of balance with one's inner self for cancer to eventually form. With all women I have seen, it comes from some form of ultimately giving up...a fear of life itself...I don't really want to be a choser of my life...what is important to me...I fear listening to my own feelings or doing what I want to up on the belief that life can be what I chose it to be...Cancer is in some form not loving self, not believing in self worth that begins to eat away at self.

And finally, ultimately all cancers come from shame...not that one could do anything wrong to be outside of God's grace...but where you believed you were I always ask those with cancer, "where are you feeling shame?" At the root of all cancers is a first belief that you were shameful, responsible for doing something shameful...this could have been felt as a child. When in reality God always looks at any negative behavior as fear...We have to heal any shame and know that we are never out of Divine love at any time...


July 1, 2009 at 10:40 PM 
Blogger waterman2 said...

Ann, I have been studing breast
cancer for many years and can teach
many about causes & cures.
Back in 1970 heavy amounts of a
chemicle called Chlorine was dumped
into our water supplys nation wide.
If you are on a water system that
is Chlorinated stop showering in it.
purchase a good shower filter.
Here is why. What does Chlorine do
in water? it kills bacteria, organic
matter and releases a strong gassus
smell wich you breath. you also
absorbe it into your skin. this ia
a poison. Asthma and breast cancer
have exploded in the amount of people
who are getting this health related
problem. I found some time ago on
google that a study done in
Hartford Ct. said that 50-60% of
breast cancer was from showering
in Chlorine. I am in the water
business and can not get one media
person to come and see what we know.Doctors treat not prevent.
We wrote about this epidemic some
time ago, but only two papers carried it. Find a person that knows more about drinking water
than us , we sure would like to talk to them.Instead of the media
listening to the facts, they attack
the message.Hope someday soon that
some writer will have the guts to follow up on this. good luck!

July 5, 2009 at 9:58 AM 
Blogger Ann DeMatteo said...

I am very interested in all of your comments and will read them again in the near future. Am interested in following the water issue.

July 8, 2009 at 12:23 PM 
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