UNDERSTANDING: An Anthology of True and Significant Life Events – Part 2

UNDERSTANDING: An Anthology of True and Significant Life Events – compiled by Stevie Turner

It is my privilege to take part in this anthology with other 19 authors writing on difficult experiences in our life.




The following authors and bloggers kindly answered questions posed by Stevie Turner regarding significant life experiences they had undergone. These events include sexual abuse, a near death experience, alcoholism, being diagnosed with cancer, depression, losing weight, getting married, being a mother to many children, being the daughter of a narcissistic mother, and many more!

All proceeds will go to Cancer Research.

Thanks to:
Alienora Browning
Sally Cronin
Dorinda Duclos
Scarlett Flame
Bernard Foong
Darlene Foster
Janet Gogerty
Debbie Harris
Lucy V. Hay
Miriam Hurdle
Phil Huston
Pamela Jessen
D.G Kaye
Lynda McKinney Lambert
Jaye Marie
Clive Pilcher
Abbie Johnson Taylor
Beem Weeks

~   ~   ~

An excerpt of my contribution

Miriam Hurdle – Stage IV Melanoma – Q&A: 6 to 10


  1. How did it affect your work life at a time of discovery?

I was a teacher at that time. After the hysterectomy, I went back to work when school started in September. Dr. E at UCLA did an arthroscopic surgery to remove the cancer cells in early October. He removed all the cancer cells in the organ tissues except one cancerous lymph node in the Inguinal nodes on the right side of my body. It was stage III when I had the surgery and the cancer spread to one lymph node. He referred me back to my primary medical center for chemotherapy treatment.

I took the letter of chemotherapy referral to Dr. P’s office and gave it to the receptionist. During the month of October, I stayed home to recuperate. The school district hired a long-term substitute teacher for my class.

I didn’t hear from Dr. P’s office for three weeks. I called the office, and the receptionist said they would let me know when they had processed the referral.

  1. How did it affect your personal life?

During the three weeks of waiting, my husband and I continued to research on melanoma, its cause, stages, prognosis, and treatment. The more I found out, the more worrisome I became. I couldn’t think of anything else but my cancer.

I waited for another two weeks, still didn’t hear from Dr. P. My primary care medical center was three miles from home, I went to his office. When I talked to the receptionist, she pulled out the letter of referral from her “IN” box and told me they had not processed it yet. She couldn’t do anything because the doctor was not in the office.

I sat in the lounge and demanded to speak to someone. A nurse came to see me. I told her my story and said I was dying because my cancer was spreading. She helped me to set up an appointment to see Dr. P.

Dr. P said he couldn’t do anything for me and referred me to his former supervisor Dr. O at The Angeles Clinic and Research Institute. He also ordered CT Scan and lab test for me to take the results to Dr. O.

  1. Was there any additional treatment?

My husband and I met with Dr. O in mid-November. He said my melanoma was at stage IV and the cancer had spread beyond the original site to the Inguinal nodes on the left side of my body. He explained that it was an aggressive cancer and needed aggressive treatment. I would need to have a six-month full-time treatment. The chemotherapy used five drugs for a 5-day inpatient treatment, after the hospitalization, I would have three weeks to recuperate, that was counted as one cycle. He recommended six cycles of treatment with surgeries between cycles to remove the dead tumors.

I told Dr. O it was hard for me to take six months off from work. Dr. O said it was my decision whether to receive the treatment. The surgeon Dr. F was at the meeting and said it was worth to take six months out of my work to take care of myself.

  1. How did it affect your family life?

It was a difficult decision to make for two reasons. One was that I couldn’t afford to have no income for six months. My husband just went back to school in September to get his MRI/CT licenses. He would finish school in June 2009. The other reason was the aggressive chemotherapy drugs and the side effects. For a small size person like me, I felt that the drugs could have killed me before killing the cancer.

I discussed the situation with my husband, my daughter, and my church family. I asked them to pray for me as I must decide before Christmas when the school had the winter recess. During the winter recess, some staff would not be there if I needed to make arrangement for my leave.

One week before school took the winter recess, I decided to go through the treatment. I called Dr. O about my decision and went to see him for the treatment schedule.

  1. Did the plan affect your financial situation?

During the school winter recess, I went to the Human Resources office to submit the six-month leave request. The Administrative Assistant asked if I was a member of the Personal Disasters Bank, I said I wasn’t. She explained that if I donated one sick-leave day to the Personal Disasters Bank, when I had a disaster situation, I could withdraw twenty days at a time from the bank up to one-hundred days with fifty percent paid. I signed a paper to donate one sick-leave day to this Bank. I also found out that since I was a member of the Teachers Union, I could receive fifty percent sick-leave pay up to one hundred days.

The financial burden fell off my shoulder one week before the cancer treatment. Between the two resources, I had one hundred percent income for six months.

To be continued……

~   ~   ~

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