I’m Not a Statistic

NaplesSUNSET(words & image by sandie rossini)

You should always get a second opinion. I suppose that’s true. My gut is usually right but I do like to hear other opinions when it comes to… basically anything. That was most definitely true when it came to choosing my doctor and the hospital where I would be receiving my chemotherapy and radiation treatment following my surgery. I probably wasn’t thinking clearly, I mean I just had BRAIN surgery after all so I took the advice of my family members and went to the hospital just across the street from where I had my surgery and saw another doctor. The two hospitals were actually connected and shared information and research but it felt like I was entering a different planet. It didn’t help that I felt horrible that day. I was still recovering from surgery and I had a painful, throbbing headache that made it hard to see. I felt nauseous and couldn’t eat and I also was too weak to walk so I sat in a wheelchair. I was angry, very angry. As I sat in a torture chamber I was forced to listen to a screeching loud noise that sounded like someone’s nails on a chalkboard. I was then wheeled down a dark corridor and forced to wait for hours and had to listen to loud clicking noises and had to answer endless questions. After that I was then wheeled into a small room and surrounded by many men who then asked me more questions, which I was forced to answer. Then we waited, and we waited for an hour and then another hour. I demanded that someone wheel me out of the room but no one would. I had enough. I had made up my mind before we even met the doctor but I tried to give this place a chance but I was done, I couldn’t take another second of- then suddenly the doctor walked in casually. So I stopped my negative thinking. I gave him a clean slate. I began to understand that the screeching noise in the lobby may have been a young lady playing a harp to relax patients, the questions were probably reasonable and the clicking was most likely keyboards, my anger was most likely caused by the steroids that I was on to heal the swelling in my brain, the headaches and pain- well that was from my surgery and I shouldn’t be taking it out on this hospital that didn’t seem so dark now that I looked around. So I took a deep breath and said hello and shook this doctor’s hand. Unfortunately, he blew it. He began with the “at the most 5 years” speech and that’s when he lost me. That’s not what I wanted in a doctor. You see MY doctor needed to understand that I am NOT a statistic and that I was going to BEAT the odds. So yes, use your numbers, get the facts, do the math, the science and get me the best treatment out there but understand this- don’t ever tell me how long I will live because YOU sir, do not know that information. No one knows that. The doctor I chose- was my doctor from the start. I had a team of doctors at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, MA. My surgeon was a superhero who performed a miracle & removed the monster in my head, my Radiologist beamed positivity into my soul and my Oncologist is brilliant & continues to shield me from the evil of cancer to this day- and I can tell you that I’m positive I made the right choice. My doctor has always told me that I am NOT a statistic.

Runaway Home

TrainStationby sandie rossini: 6.10.14

I used to take the train by myself from Boston to New Jersey when I was in college and I loved it. I loved staring out the window and watching the world go by, one town or city at a time. I listened to music through my Walkman and daydreamed. I loved that time alone and I was able to block out all of the other passengers. This wasn’t a pushy and crowded commuter rail, it was a passenger train taking me home and most of the time it wasn’t crowded at all. It felt good to come home and when I see a train or hear the whistle blow it makes me want to run away home.

Tears on the Horizon

PieratSunsetby sandie rossini: 8.2.16

When I was a young girl I used to look out at the water and imagine myself on a sailboat. Not just any sailboat, a sailboat that would take me anywhere I wanted to go. I could just raise my sail and let the wind blow me down the coast or out to an island. There was something lonely about that feeling, yet I enjoyed looking out onto the horizon- in fact it used to bring tears to my eyes but I wasn’t sure why.  I think most of us enjoy gazing out at the ocean or even a lake. I still get lost staring out on a horizon and sometimes it still brings tears to my eyes and I’m not sure why.

Scars

FarmTunnelby sandie rossini: 11.19.2014

We all have scars. Some are visible to the world, some are internal. My biggest scar is one and the same. I have a large scar starting from my forehead across my head, it’s from my brain surgery. It’s a daily reminder of what I’ve been through over the past year and a half. Not that I need to be reminded, my surgery and cancer is something I can’t forget, no matter how much I try. Most of the time I wish I could forget and there are times that I do but then something happens- like I hear the news in the other room saying someone has died of brain cancer and it makes me feel like I’ve been punched in the stomach. It makes me feel dizzy, off balance, like my world is being turned upside down…but only for a moment. Somehow I have learned to right myself. Some people ask me- how do you stay positive? My first answer is faith. Secondly, I ask- what’s my alternative? The scary negative thoughts are just that- scary. I can’t live in fear everyday and I won’t.

No Easy Way Out

Underpassbby sandie rossini: 7.30.14

I would love to take the easy way whenever possible and I can honestly say that up until last year I was a hard worker but I never was faced with any major obstacles in life- like cancer. Now there is no easy way. People tell me I’m strong but I tell them they would do the same thing in my situation. On days that I have to go in for an MRI I am terrified, I do whatever I can to mentally prepare myself. I pray, sing, laugh, think positively- I even meditate. This underpass seemed a little scary for me and my girls but it was the only way through to the other side.

Maybe

Maybe-Sky(written by sandie rossini: 9.30.15)

Maybe I really am different now. I think it’s almost impossible not to be. I don’t just say that I’m grateful for each new day, I really am. If I said that prior to cancer, I wasn’t lying, it’s just different now. I always tried to look at the bright side, to find good, even in bad situations but now I really understand. On this day it was sunny and when the sun slipped under a cloud, just for a moment, I heard someone complain. When I looked up I didn’t see the cloud covering the sun, I saw the sun shining through the cloud. Maybe I didn’t need cancer to show me how to live my life better, but maybe it just ended up working out that way. Someone asked me for some advice recently and here’s what I said- don’t take your health or happiness for granted, don’t wait for a disease or loss to change you. See the good, if it’s not there, create it. Maybe you can have everything you’ve ever wanted, why not just go for it? I am.

Take Me Home

CitgoSign(written by sandie rossini: 1.24.16)

The Citgo sign is a landmark in Boston and I used to associate it with Fenway Park but now it means something different to me. It’s what I see when I’m leaving the hospital. Now while I’m super appreciative of the hospital, the staff and everything I get done there to make me better- I REALLY appreciate going home. When we leave we always go the same way. When we come to a certain spot on Brookline Ave and I see that Citgo sign, I feel relief. I made it through another appointment and now my reward is going home to see my babies. When I see that sign I can breathe again. At that point I look over at my caring husband and feel so grateful for everything that I have, including him. Then he takes me home.