As I get older and being a survivor of Gastric Cancer and dealing with the ripple effects from treatments, it’s an ongoing battle not to be taken lightly.
Words can never convey the depth of my gratitude at the second chance for life on so many levels but the quality of life is an uphill battle, one that I don’t ever reach the top. It’s a challenge and I think the adrenaline gives me the strength and motivation to continue being a survivor, doing as well as I am, hopefully to inspire others crawling up this massive mountain like me.
My teeth have been deteriorating rather rapidly in the past two years maybe even three but the past 6 to 8 months it’s got exceedingly bad and I knew the last time I saw my dentist, who was doing fillings on upon fillings, knew that I had to talk to him about the end result I knew I was facing.
My dentist, who is my champion in this fight has retired. I reached out to one of my dental surgeons who is involved in the ‘Ride to Conquer Cancer’ every year and goes above and beyond in that fight, referred me to the Canadian Cancer Foundation Dental to which I met yesterday.
When I walked into Surrey Hospital memories flooded back about all my chemo and radiation that I had there 16 years ago. The stark reality of facing my own death, at that moment all flooded back as I started watching people coming in and out of the hospital. I’m really gifted with understanding body language and I could see majority of them were full of worry, stress and sadness. The odd one had a smile and that’s the one that gave me hope that this too I will endure and I will get through.
As I said I knew this was coming and this was more confirmation because one of my teeth had broken a couple of months ago beside one that had identically broken about two years ago. The dental surgeon in question that referred me to the cancer dental clinic had pulled it out, so here I am facing it but I knew ultimately that I’m going to lose all my teeth.
My husband was my rock and he was watching my body language, since he also has that amazing gift. He’s amazing, there is nothing and I mean nothing that gets past this man’s eyes when it comes to me, what I’m thinking or what I’m feeling. He knows me better than I know myself now.
In my teens and early 20s I did professional modelling while going through school. One of the first comments when I would go to a shoot was my beautiful teeth and my beautiful blue eyes and here I was yesterday at the very same hospital that was trying to save my life when I was diagnosed with signet ring stage 3B stomach cancer. Everything I was told from that moment through the treatments was doom and gloom 16 years ago.
I chose to laugh and tell jokes during my treatments to put a smile on other peoples faces, especially the medical staff who have to deal with patients, oncologist and the chemo therapists. All these memories flooded back yesterday. This is an absolutely amazing hospital that doesn’t get enough credit for the miracles that they perform and the hard work and emotional turmoil that each of the staff and patients endure.
Now here I am 16 years later just had new x-rays done awaiting the dentist to tell me what I already knew.
Hubby was sitting there across from me and watching my every move, asking how I am. Telling me everything’s going to be fine, will get through this, we get through everything else together. All I could think of is here I go again putting another big burden on my poor husband. He’s already carrying the load of 10 men and always keeps a smile and a positive word when he himself is loaded with stress.
How many times have I said in my head, looking at him holding back tears ‘My sweetheart I am so sorry that you got burdened with me.’ All these health issues and he has never once made me feel like a burden.
So here we were, the dentist came in the room with the assistant and started telling me there were no teeth they could save. The chemo was a big part of it, my essential tremor played a small part because with the uncontrollable shakes I have a been unable to floss properly, so all the gums were irritated. We needed to look at the option of dentures.
Everything will be covered if I do the dentures but the dentist and I had a good talk about the essential tremor with the option of implants and she explained her mother also suffers from essential tremor and I may have a problem maintaining them properly, so I am more than likely looking at dentures.
The next three weeks will be appointments with dentists and oral surgeons. As I’m in the case where I don’t have a stomach, if they remove all my teeth how am I supposed to eat every 2 to 3 hours? How are we going to do this? I guess I will keep you all updated and see how it all goes.
I miss working, I miss my independence and I really miss not bringing in the extra income to help my husband.
I hate having to be on disability because when I look at myself I look healthy but I’m one of those that suffer from various unseen serious disabilities and it’s very difficult getting through days. Like yesterday, knowing that the next few months going through recovery is going to be exceedingly difficult.
Surrey Memorial Hospital, where the Cancer Foundation is has proven to me that they have the top utmost care and team. I have 100% confidence that I am in absolutely the best of hands as well as having a husband who is my rock, my strength, my very life force and even through our difficult times and hardships we still stand together.
The dentist yesterday said something that really touched me. She said, “Look at it this way Millie. When you get your teeth and you’ve adjusted to everything and it’s all good, you’re going to have that beautiful smile back to match your beautiful face and your beautiful spirit.”
Yes, this too I will survive and I’m not alone in this particular fight because so many of my stomach cancer family and friends have also gone through this or are currently going through this which is all part and parcel of our united fight.
Millie can be contacted through her Facebook Page I’m a Survivor