Wednesday, April 2, 2014

B is for by Busted Boulders Paula Shene

Welcome to Unwritten's part of the worldwide A-Z Blog Challenge!! Every day in April (except Sundays), we'll have a new post related to the letters of the alphabet from A-Z. Our theme here on Unwritten is "I Will Survive". I hope these stories will inspire and uplift you. Comments are VERY appreciated!

B is for Busted Boulders 
Paula Shene

It seemed as if I had receded into the back row, high up in the bleachers, away from the conversation that would change the way I looked at myself and my marriage. Distance was needed to maintain calm in my spirit as Ann, the office R.N. explained how my immediate time line would be laid out.

I leaned forward, asking, “Excuse me, but how long do I have? A month, six months, a year? How quickly must I get my affairs in order?

Ann did not pause to think what her reply would be. “We do not think in those terms. We will be with you all the way and we expect you to have a full recovery.”

“Are you telling me that progress in cancer research has advanced so greatly in twenty years, that this cancer, while pronounced by the doctor as a stage three, fast moving, aggressive cancer, will not be my killer?”  I had watched as patient after patient came to the Will Rogers Hospital in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, be diagnosed with cancer, taken to the local hospital, operated on, and sent home to die. I had become emotionally attached to most of those patients and all my tears for this killer had been shed.

Ann told me the road I would walk was not going to be an easy one, but with the help of the staff and my cooperation, this would be a test I would pass.

I had a deep knowing that all would be right, whether or not my body remained alive. I initially thought that I would be going home and when told no, you have more time to work, all was well with my spirit. My calmness remained while my family appeared to get more and more distraught. I finally told them that they needed to pray for the calmness that I had been given.

I awoke to my husband’s kiss eight hours after the operation  removed the golf ball size lump in my left breast. I was left with a zipper like horizontal scar. My husband, our youngest son, and a young lady student in our tutoring business had been waiting for me to awaken from the almost two hour operation. Our student, ever the romantic, thought it was so cool that I awaken to Paul’s kiss, just like Sleeping Beauty. They were on their way home because it was already nine o’clock and visiting hours were over.

It was three days before I was able to eat again. I was addicted to diet soda and asked for one with my meal. I took a sip and gagged. It tasted like a salt shaker. That was the end of that addiction. I laughed. Obviously, I was not going to be left with too many vices.

Thirteen years previously, I had two strokes, one major and one minor. I gave up smoking and alcohol when my doctor told me I would have more strokes if I did not stop. That crisis was brought to me by mercury poisoning exacerbated by my vices.  This crisis, I don’t know. There is no family history. Maybe my past choices in lifestyle; but there is no answer. Just the job of getting well.

My hair was very long and thick; almost near my waist. I was told that I would lose it, more than likely, after two or three chemotherapy sessions. Since the sessions were scheduled for every other week, I had a chance of being bald in four to six weeks. I had my hair cut into a pixie style, one I had worn for years when the children were young. 

After ten weeks I was starting to look like the host on the Tales From The Crypt television show. I asked Paul to trim my hair. He used the dog clippers. I was bald and I was cold. And I now understood why my husband didn’t like his bald head as much as I did.
I found that I wasn’t very proficient in handling scarves as a head covering and wearing a wig was like wearing a winter hat. Not for me. Cosmetics other than mascara were not on my vanity table, but I was a lover of earrings and floppy hats and fedoras. In the fall, when paying bills or shopping, it was a bald head adorned with large clunky earrings, mascaraed lashes and a smile on my face that accompanied me on my rounds. In the winter, one of my hats was added to the ensemble. 

After six months of chemotherapy every other week, then began the five week daily trips from St. Helens to Portland, Oregon for radiation treatments. The chemotherapy had made me tired, but the radiation laid me flat. The little I did before the radiation was now curtailed. The only job left that I did was meals and that took me two to three times longer to prepare.  But, I was one of the lucky ones. Some of my co - takers of chemotherapy, had lost their spouses through their cancer ordeal. Others were bruised, sick, and unhappy. 

My husband drove me to and from appointments. Our home business which had need of me as a contributor was running smoothly by my slack being shouldered equally between my husband and son. My husband accepted the new me with a heartfelt joy.

I spent my fiftieth year battling through and winning this skirmish. My hair grew back into a chemo curl, salt with a dash of pepper,  after being straight as a pin all my life. My husband loved the new me. 

He had always stood behind me, urging me to be whatever I wanted to be. Now he had stood behind me, holding me up; giving me the strength to go on. 

I could say that my optimistic attitude and Pollyanna outlook is what brought me through the battle, but I do not believe that to be the truth. My husband’s and family’s acceptance of what is, is, and their love for me is what has kept me standing. 


Paula Louise Shene took to writing after forced retirement.  A former college administrator and business owner whose hours are now filled caring for a disabled husband, and tapping away at the keys taking her into a saner reality.  She  writes children’s stories under Paula Shene where she also writes under the banner of The Peacock Writers, a group dedicated to charity.  PC Shene is her name for Sci//Fi/Fantasy.

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  1. This is so wonderful; so touching. It feels like it really has happened to someone, and I feel like I know the MC so much better now. :)

    Thank you for sharing this with us!

    Alex Hurst, fantasy author in Japan. "B is for Books" is my current post.

  2. Wow, you are truly a survivor. Having the support of a wonderful family means so much.

    Thank you for sharing your story.

    1. Thank you Leona. it truly does mean an easier road with family and their love.


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