Takeaways and Lessons Learned: A Wisconsin Woman Shares Her Cancer Story

Discover Wisconsin

November 1, 2018

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.” Ferris Buehler, “Ferris Buehler’s Day Off”
By Michelle Gormican Thompson 

Work, kids, an insanely packed calendar with seemingly not a moment to spare, you roll along everyday, thinking about the next thing you have to do, the next place you have to be, that next vacation you really want to take, where your kids will go to college and when you can retire…the list never stops.  Until it does.

“You have breast cancer.”  These words, which came to me ironically in the middle of another really busy workday, made my heart stop, took my breath away and made my arms literally go numb. You see, I come from a long line of hearty Irish and Lebanese stock.  All my grandparents lived into their 90s.  My Lebanese great-grandma smoked Camel unfiltered cigarettes and she lived to be 102 years old.   I’m not kidding.  102.  There was not a chance in hell they had the right person.  They, of course, did.

Game On

The next few months were excruciatingly slow, terrifying and brought about a sensation of hovering above a life that was no longer mine.  I went about my life, with a smile on my face and fabulous shoes on my feet, when on the inside I was pretty sure I was losing my mind.  I kept working, I kept moving forward.  I was my usual chatty self – because if I stopped, it would be acknowledging the truth going on in my life.

When the dust settled eight months later, I had gone through surgery, chemo and six weeks of daily radiation.  Oh, and I was bald with a pretty nice case of PTSD.  But that’s another story for another time.

Out of the Darkness, Light

Looking back a year out, my story isn’t one of sadness, but incredible light.  The cancer was found by a radiologist who was tenacious in finding it, so it was caught early. My prognosis, God willing, is good.  That’s right, my mammogram saved my life.  That I believe to be true with every inch of my being.

I had good health insurance and medical professionals who were nothing short of spectacular. I have friends and clients who are like family, and a husband, kids and family that were my reason to keep rolling on days I wanted to hide under the covers.  People connected with me, performed incredible acts of kindness and were amazing.

If there are any take-aways from my experience, I would say take good care of yourself, eat well and be active. Schedule that mammogram, or colonoscopy, or prostate exam.  Don’t wait.  Don’t put your head in the sand. Please do it now.

Oh, and stop complaining about the mundane details of your life.  Have patience with the world and be kind to those you encounter. And live every single day of your life, because each day truly is a gift.

The WCA Group Health Trust was created when county officials joined together to create an employee benefit program that would meet the unique needs of local governments. Today, their founding principles still remain at the core. WCA Group Health Trust is governed by officials from participating units of government and school districts, making the organization more responsive to local healthcare needs.

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