Wednesday, May 30, 2012
An Inspirational Cancer Story Involving a Newlywed, a Doctor's Wife, and a Birdhouse
Being married to a doctor sounds glamorous, but trust me, it isn't all it's cracked up to be. My husband and I have been together since college and it's been a very long road.
However, compared to my friend Colleen, my road seems like a short cul-de-sac. Colleen met her husband in college, and after college her husband moved to Omaha for medical school. She didn't know a soul there, but she wanted to be with him, so she enrolled in nursing school. Just when she was getting to know Omaha, they had to move again for residency. Colleen packed again and followed her husband to another city where she didn't know anyone. Things were going well until she started feeling sick. First, she got sore gums and didn't think much of it. Then she started feeling really tired, but again tried to ignore it. Eventually her gums started bleeding every time she brushed her teeth. Her parents finally convinced her to get blood work done and she was out running errands when she got the results back. The nurse on the other end of the phone told her she needed to go to the Emergency Room immediately. Colleen was confused.
"I can't go now," she told the nurse. "I'm just getting ready to walk into the grocery store."
The nurse replied, "Colleen, you don't understand. You need to drop what you're doing. You are in serious danger. Minutes will make a difference."
Collen was diagnosed with leukemia and her levels were so dangerous when she got that call, that the doctors told her she was incredibly lucky that she got there when she did. She began fighting for her life in a strange city, without her friends or her family. She spent lots of time in the hospital and at home, where she was quarantined and couldn't leave the house for fear of contracting a cold or worse. While she was stuck at home alone, she watched lots of TV and read books, but that got old fast. Eventually she started to just look out the windows and she noticed all the different birds. She bought a book and she became an avid bird watcher, and found that it was a very soothing way to pass the time.
Colleen battled through and when I met her, she had a full head of hair and a vivacious smile. I didn't even know she'd had cancer, because by this point, she'd been in remission for several months. Since she was a nurse at the hospital, my husband knew story and when he told me that she'd just gotten over cancer, I didn't believe him. This wonderful, energetic person didn't seem at all like a cancer patient to me, but it was true. She had lived through chemo, being quarantined to her house, and losing her hair as a twenty five year old newlywed. Yet she isn't bitter. On the contrary, she has flourished. She never complains about what she went through and she inspires me daily to look around and appreciate what I have. She has one year left here, before they will move yet again for her husband to complete his fellowship and will finally be done with all his training. She has made a full recovery and is 100% healthy today.
Colleen has become one of my dearest friends and my kids absolutely adore her. They talk about her constantly and Munchkin Girl told me one time, "Mommy, it's so nice of you to share your friends with me." Little Buddy definitely has a crush on her and every time he pulls out his pretend phone, I hear him saying, "Hi Coyeen. Coming soon?"
As a tribute to her, my kids painted a bird house for her. She isn't stuck at home anymore, but she still loves birds, and my kids love her, so I thought it was very appropriate. I bought a few birdhouses from Hobby Lobby for just a few dollars. Then I gave them some paint and let them go to work! Munchkin Girl is nearly four and she was very particular about the way she wanted it painted.
Little Buddy, on the other hand, had some trouble with his, so big sister jumped in to help him. They worked together on his.
When they were done, we kept one and gave the other to Colleen. She was thrilled with it and Munchkin Girl was so proud to give it to her. We put ours in the backyard and have even enjoyed watching the birds flock to the food!
I have written this story in connection with a project that was started by Mary Anne from a blog called, Mama Smiles. Mary Ann was diagnosed with cancer at age 22 months. She bounced back and is living a wonderful life with her husband and kids and this has inspired her to give back. She has formed a group of power bloggers to write about how cancer has touched their lives and all stories will be compiled for a book, which will be available to purchase. All proceeds will go toward Cancer Research. You can also donate below by clicking on the link. Thank you for your support!!
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Rainbows Within Reach
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29 May Smiling like Sunshine
30 May Mommy with Selective Memory
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