Today’s Spotlight Survivor is Kaijah Chrome, co-owner of ENT SL Radio.
Once again we will be shining the spotlight on our amazing breast cancer survivors and caregivers. This week our Spotlight Survivor is Mar Silverblade.
How and when did you learn about your cancer?
I am a breast cancer with metastasis in the lymph nodes survivor. I learned that I had cancer in October 2013 after I went to see my doctor because of a lump in my left breast.
What types of treatment(s) have occurred?
Started chemotherapy on November 2013 till April 2014. I had lumpectomy surgery and all my lymph nodes to the right side were removed also. After surgery, I started estrogen hormone inhibitor treatment with Anastrozole. I went through seven weeks of radiation post surgery.
April 14, 2014, is a day I will always remember, that day after surgery, my Oncologist nurse called to tell me that I was cancer free.
I felt blessed at the time and also right now. Still, the journey to recovery continues, I did not tolerate my treatment with Anastrozole, later I took Letrozole for more than two years till I had severe joint/bones pain, so much so, that I could not walk farther than a block. The Oncologist stopped the medication for four months, I did recover from the joint pain after that time.
In January of 2019, I was taking Aromasin with some of the same bad side effects showing up already.
Nobody said that it would be easy, it is not, but I am not giving up!
What have been the most important things that have helped you through your survivorship?
Having my husband, family, friends, and the online ACS Support Group in Second Life helping me all the way. Knowing that I am never alone makes all the difference in my journey throughout my cancer treatments and recovery. Also, my belief that there is a God who is always there to help me.
What have you learned from your experiences that you would like to share?
That even in the most difficult times I have the ability to fight back. That I am never alone in my journey.
Are there positive experiences you would like to share?
Yes, the support of family, friend and Second Life support group made a big impact in my life. I wish I never had cancer. But it happened, so I learned about how strong I can be in such difficult times. I know how much my loved ones care for me and that I even have virtual friends that are there for me 24/7 as much as I am there for them.
For three years now I have been a volunteer in an online support group for people in cancer treatments and survivors. I am part of the ACS Support Group in Second Life. I am very proud of this group, everyday people come together to help each other in the journey to survive. Helping others helps me to know that I am are never alone.
This is my motto, I say it over and over, “we are not alone in this journey. Together we can cope with anything.”
What else would you like to tell us?
Do not be afraid to ask for help.
I am a member and moderator of the Hope Haven – ACS Support Groups in Second Life .
Five years ago I met Sandie Loxingly in a Relay For Life Christmas event. She told me about the support group that meets at Hope Haven, which takes place every Sunday at noon SLT. I went the next Sunday. I was so pleased to be able to meet people that have gone through cancer treatment and others that were in treatment, all of us cancer patients and survivors are willing to share our story and support one another.
I will always be thankful to Sandie for being there that day when she opened the door of the support group for me.
We meet every day as we please in the Support Group Chat Room. Also, we have Sundays meetings in person at the Hope Haven Support Group Network building. If we can’t be on Second Life we can communicate and share stories and thoughtful articles, and so on in the group Facebook page.
Also, The amazing support from the ACS Caregivers Support Group in Second Life gave to me when my sister passed away last January 02, 2019 is still in my heart.
Currently, I am dealing with very bad side effects from Aromasin an estrogen hormone inhibitor, but I am not feeling isolated in my journey. I asked for help, in the support group, with my feelings of having to choose with my Oncologist if I will have to stop my medication, losing the protection against another possible metastasis.
I just needed to know that others can deeply understand the nightmares that come with the uncertainty of your future. As soon as I shared my concerns many people in the group supported me and gave me suggestions.
I asked others with the same diagnosis how are they were coping and they shared with me their good wishes and many more little details of caring and taking the time to listen to me.It really makes all the difference in the world knowing that I am not alone.
I know that whatever I do it will have to be with my Oncologists medical advise. That having been said, the support from the group is also part of my daily routine. I am there for them and they are there for me. That is priceless!
The ACS Support Groups in Second Life gives me comfort and the peace of mind that comes with the knowledge that you are with your peers. I can be myself with them, we trust each other, we deeply care for one another, we fight together, we celebrate our victories and we hold each other in the dark times. There is so much more to say, but for now, with a chemo brain, all I can say is thank you to all of you for being there for me.
I am living one day at the time, because of all the side effects of medications, my life is not easy and my road to recovery probably will never end but I am fine with that, I am a fighter, I am not giving up.
Once again this year LyricWinterwolf Composer is allowing us to share her story. Lyric’s story takes you beyond the diagnosis as she shows us how she fights back against this terrible disease by offering comfort and support to others.
Included are some links to show how you can pass along Lyric’s dream of helping breast cancer patients one person at a time. Keep reading and be inspired to make a difference for someone as well!
To my surprise, this organization provided me with one of their “goody bags”. This little treasure trove contained informational pamphlets, books, a day planner to help keep up with appointments and a little rectangle pillow. The curious side of me asked what the pillow was for and I was told to cushion my chest from the seat belt once I had surgery.
I thought to myself, “Wow, I never would have thought of that!”
The small pillow was appreciated greatly but unfortunately was not much help. A year or so after my mastectomy and reconstruction I ran across a “how to” video on Facebook for a post mastectomy pillow. I was fascinated.
Again my thought was “Wow…if only I had one or two of those when I had my mastectomy and what a wonderful way for me to give back to the organization that helped me!” and my Mastectomy pillow fund was off and running.
I set up a Go Fund Me, downloaded the free pattern and was off. The count so far is over 300 pillows, complete with pillow shams and an elastic strap. Donations have been received in monetary form, donated material, pillow filling and elastic. SL has provided multiple friends and family that has shipped several boxes of material that has made a lot of the donations possible.
To create your own mastectomy pillows to share with those in your local community, here is a downloadable patter and a YouTube “How To” video to get you started:
Mastectomy pillow pattern
How To Sew a Mastectomy pillow video
To support Lyric’s personal mission of making and delivering Mastectomy pillows, you can donate to her project’s Go Fund Me page here:
As the month of October gets into full swing and our focus turns to how we can Make Strides in the fight against breast cancer we will once again be spotlighting stories of our fellow residents in Second Life who have been touched by breast cancer as a patient, survivor or caregiver.
For our first spotlight story of the 2018 Making Strides season, we are sharing the story of Aryon Dagger, one of our many warrior survivors.
I am a survivor … four words that mean so much to so many. To be able to say them, to have fought and won the battle, gives life a new meaning. People who have survived cancer live life, for the most part, as they never have before. Oh, I am sure that some survivors lived life to the fullest before, but some, like myself, went from day to day doing the mundane and not much more.
Carpe Diem, Seize the Day … there is a great deal of motivational truth in that phrase. I try to live each day like it will be my last. Every day, I get up and mentally give thanks for the gift of another day and each night, I again give thanks for having seen the day through. Sounds corny, doesn’t it? Call it what you will, but I know how lucky I am . Keep reading and I’ll explain.
July 4th 2001, is a day that will remain engraved on my chest for the rest of my life. On that day, I was told I had breast cancer.
After undergoing the usual probes, gropes and lumpectomies, it was determined that the cancer was in stage 3. It might be worthwhile my mentioning that what was found were cysts, these were drained and the husks mutated from benign to malignant both in and out of body.
I was fortunate to be under the care of the Chief Consultant of the breast cancer department. A man who, unusually for me I would come to trust blindly with my life during my bout with cancer. I was forty-five, married and was looking forward to the birth of my first grandchild when suddenly, I was being told that unless something was done fast, I would not see my next birthday. The time, from initial finding to the last in a group of stays in hospital for operations, spanned a period of a little less than four months. The penultimate operation occurring on another date that will, just like December 7th, 1941, live in infamy … September 11th, 2001.
Shortly after this operation, I went in to have the results explained to me. My surgeon told me that on October 9th, I would be having a double, radical, bilateral mastectomy. I sat there and went numb, became a robot of sorts in my responses, got up and walked out. It had taken all of 20 minutes, but it took me nearly 2 hours before I could drive away from the hospital. My life flashed in slow motion before my eyes but it wasn’t over yet.
I had a choice, I could sit back and let this vicious disease that knows no bounds regarding age or gender take control of my life until it consumed me completely, or I could stand toe to toe with it, stare it in the eye and tell it where to go. I chose to do the latter. I wanted to see my son happy, to hold my first grandchild, and so much more.
I’m one of the lucky ones. I don’t know why one person wins their battle and another loses it. But I do know that everything happens for a reason. I know that we are all on this planet for a reason too and that when we have completed our task here, it is our time to pass over. I’m not sure what my reason or purpose is, I doubt if any of us ever know for sure but I do know that I prayed, begged and pleaded to win my battle and I did. I got to hold not only my first grandchild but my second, and third. I got to see my son, finally happy, a college graduate and a man with a wonderful family. And I got to spend the last four years of my partner’s life, with her. For that, I will be eternally thankful.
I came into Second Life to heal. From the loss of my partner of 26 years and from the immense trauma that breast cancer brought upon me. I present myself here as I am in real life. I chose the hard way as part of my journey along the path of healing. I never gave a thought to the scars during the days prior to any of my surgeries. It was not until I came home from the hospital that my scars became an issue both to my partner and myself.
I would wake up in a cold sweat, I had recurring nightmares, I was convinced it was all a bad dream and that I would wake up and the scars would be gone and my body would be complete and whole again. To make matters far more worse and in actual fact, playing a huge part in my growing to hate my scars was that from the day I came home, my partner refused to look at or touch them. They were not discussed, though I wanted to and almost assuredly needed to, as part of the mental healing process.
My partner passed away, probably never realizing how I felt, though I know many times I tried to sit down and talk about it. To say that they did not hurt … a bit of a lie since I had extensive nerve damage and still to this day get the occasional “zap of electricity”, that I was still the same person even though my body looked different. I really felt like instead of running away from my scars, that getting to know them was more important because through them and my undying will to live, I had survived. My partner never got to hear the “all clear” given to me.
It was about seven years later that someone other than a doctor, nurse or myself actually touched those scars of my battle. Not only touched them but looked at them, traced round them, recognized them for what they were and said the words that she had said many times before, without having seen them … “it doesn’t matter”. I remember it like it was yesterday. The sound of her soft voice, the tender touch of her fingertips, the look on her face. And it still brings tears to my eyes. Until that day, I didn’t know what it meant to be accepted, physically for who I was now.
Loving and caring doesn’t always bring with it total acceptance. Especially when something changes that is beyond our control. It holds no guarantees, either. When bodies become modified, whether electively or not, more often than not, there are consequences. Its not like cutting your hair, because your hair will grow back. The scars will always be there as a constant reminder of life’s little misfortunes. They will remind us of the people that turned away but, they will also record an indelible memory of the tender moments when you meet someone with no insecurities that makes you feel whole again.
I will continue to battle, wearing my scars like a medal won in a war, for life … mine and everyone’s.