The Path of the Cancer Warrior

Dear, Dear, Dear Friends,

Today is a day of hope.

My day began, as it does every day, with me wiping a tear from my husband’s eyes.  This good, passionate man understands that with each new day we will almost certainly be surprised by new challenges — challenges which no one can prepare for.  So, as the time arrived for us to confront today’s set of surprises, we prayed for the grace to meet each moment with peace, with love and with trust in God.  

These days, I find time every morning to read the reflection of the day from the book Jesus Calling by Sarah Young.  Today’s thought seemed to be particularly appropriate to my situation : Relax in my healing, holy presence.  As your thoughts center more and more on me, trust displaces fear and worry.  Your mind is somewhat like a see-saw — as your trust in me goes up, fear and worry automatically go down.  Time spent with me not only increases your trust, it helps you discern what is important and what is not.  God keeps repeating Himself.  He has to keep repeating Himself because I keep forgetting to set aside my plans and accepting His.

Paul and I had to be out of the house very early because I had an appointment to be at the Dana Farber Hospital at 7:30 for registration, and to meet with my treatment team.  For the first time since my surgery I felt as if my day was centered around a purpose — the purpose of allowing this world class institution to teach me how to battle cancer like a warrior.  When we arrived at the facility, I realized that I am not at all alone.  I saw scores of people, determined people, showing me the face of the cancer warrior.  Starting today, these people are my peers — these are the ones who have already walked the path that I am just beginning to learn.  These are the people who will surround me as we all fight the good fight of the cancer warrior.

My examination began with neurological tests to check my cognition.  It turns out that I’m ‘sharp as a tack’.  Are any of you surprised?  The results showed that I was the kind of patient who was going to ask lots of questions — so the doctors had better be prepared!

My treatment team consists of two superior oncologists, Dr. Eudocia Lee and Dr. Nils Arvold.  They greeted me in the examination room and outlined their treatment recommendations to me and to my husband.  They proposed, and I accepted, a plan where I will simultaneously receive radiation and chemotherapy as well as participate in a clinical trial of a new medication.  Our good fortune is that I am able to attack my cancer with a one, two, three punch.  The cancer doesn’t have a chance!

How lucky we are to live just fifteen minutes away from a care center which draws patients from all over the world!  How lucky we are to live in a society where education and research are valued, that we’re able to produce clinicians and research scientists who are unlocking the secrets of battling this horrible, horrible disease that impacts the lives of so many!  But what is luckiest of all is that on Friday, August 10th I was given hope, and witnessed such a demonstration of the way hope can keep you going.

We know what’s up ahead — at least we know a little bit about what’s immediately ahead.  On Monday afternoon I’m getting an MRI, and on Wednesday I’ll be getting lab tests and I’ll meet again with Dr. Lee.  My brain is still pretty tender from surgery, so I’m not quite ready for radiation; but I’ll be ready soon and when I meet again with Dr. Lee we’ll have enough information to set a start date for my treatment.  Be sure to check the blog Wednesday for an update!

Although the day was long, and tiring and forced me to miss a visit from one of my very best friends, it was a good, good day.  Angelique was able to have a ‘normal’ day with her friends.  Paul was able to feel as if his support was valued (and it truly was!).  But to add to the blessings of the day I discovered, to my delight, that over the past three weeks I’ve lost twenty-five pounds.  What better way to top off a day of hope than a gift like that?

Quite honestly, life is good.  I have no trouble looking past the downside  — a diagnosis of cancer, long hours of surgery, a seemingly relentless plan of surgery — and I find that I consider myself a lucky, lucky woman.  You may not believe me, but your prayers are what has made the difference.

A billion thank you’s,



About pamvbradford

I am a fifty seven year old banker specializing in government banking. I have a beautiful twenty-one year old daughter and a wonderful husband. My husband and I recently downsized, and purchased a beautiful condo in Watertown MA. We love our new home. I know I am a very fortunate person. I am surrounded by supportive family members, by supportive coworkers and by the marvelous support of our faith community at Sacred Heart Parish in Lexington MA. As the Psalm says, "There is nothing that I lack." My whole life changed on July 18, 2012 when I was diagnosed with a brain tumor. The news came from out of the blue. My tumor was removed by the marvelous Dr. Mark Johnson and his wonderful team of surgeons at the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. The surgery truly was a miracle. I couldn't possibly have gotten better care. Now the 'easy' part is over. The tough part is to learn to walk with God in the midst of danger and surprise. My mood shifts from gratitude to fear and back again but I know God has a purpose for me. There's a reason I didn't die on the operating table. There's something that God wants me to do. This blog is my effort to share with others, with all of you, what it is that I am learning as I put one foot ahead of the other, live each day as it comes, and discover what it is that God has to teach me. Your prayers keep me going. Your love comforts me. Your knowledge and faith guide and teach me. God bless you all!
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5 Responses to The Path of the Cancer Warrior

  1. Lorie says:

    So glad that Friday was a good day … looking forward to seeing you maybe next week, as my free time this week overlaps with your medical adventures. Praying for you, Paul and Liqa every day!

  2. joannemessier says:

    Hi The Bradfords,

    Pam, I loved today’s post. You are so WONDERFUL, and you write so beautifully. “Sharp as a tack” did not surprise me a bit, but it did make me laugh. Congrats on the 25 pounds (what a crappy way to lose it though)…

    Can’t wait to see you, but will wait til things slow down a bit. In the meantime, rest, and here’s a big kiss from me!!


  3. Kim Donoghue says:

    Hi Pam! Hope you had a good weekend with your family. Thinking of you on this Monday morning and sending more prayers your way. I hope you have a good week. Take care!

  4. Julie Lancaster says:

    So glad to read your post. I didn’t get it untill today (mon. 8/13). Sounds like you and God and Dana Farber have things under control! I love the analogy of warrior! That’s you, fighting for what is right and good. I picture the warrior zapping those bad cells, one at a time (and on good days, bad groups at a time.) They will know you are serious and will know they can’t live in that hostile evironment! Continue your good healing.
    Love you so, Julie

  5. karla says:

    we all have always known what a strong person you are this just reaffirms it
    you are in all of our thoughts and prayers and we love you!!!!!!!!!!!!

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