Kathie Gahagan – { All we have is this moment.}

Happy “ALOHA” Friday.  This post is coming a few hours later than normal, as I am home in my  aina hanau (birthplace)  visiting my family and friends for a few weeks.

Today’s inspirational story comes from Kathie Gahagan.  Enjoy and check out her courage wall.

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Can you share with our readers what your life was like before you were diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer and how you got to the stage IV diagnosis?

 I was a secretary in a busy financial office. I was the first person clients saw when they entered the door and visited with me before their appointment To say I was a people person was an understatement. I was also active and loved to play golf. That is how I found out I had cancer.
I had a fall at the golf course and my elbow crushed my right breast leaving a bruise the size of a fist. My family doctor sent me for X-rays to make sure I did not have a broken wrist or rib. I was having a mammogram at the time as well. The short version of this was no broken bones but my mammo came back questionable. Ultra sound two weeks later and DX before if left the clinic.

What is your official diagnosis?  Tell us about your current treatment .

I have ILC ER+ -grade: 2, T1C (tumor 1-2 cm) PN3A (10 0r more auxiliary nodes), PM1 (distant detectable metastases proven .02 cm) I just tell people I have invasive lobular carcinoma and in situ lobular carcinoma that has metastasized to my pelvis. I opted for the lumpectomy.
When I was waiting for the DX on the pelvic node we were in cure mode. The doctor gave us the news the node was breast cancer so we reverted to treatment mode. My husband cried, I was just numb. But she suggested we scrap the chemo and radiation for a new drug just released for Stage 4 patients called Ibrance and added Letrozole. That was the beginning of my journey.

How do you live your best life now, thriving with a metastatic diagnosis?

Cancer has been an evolution for me. I have always been a spiritual person but this dx has brought me to the realization of exactly what the New Testament was talking about. I have learned to live the best I can in each moment of every day and believe me when I say that some days are harder than others. Especially when I though I did everything right getting mammograms every year.
My pivotal moment came about 3 months into my dx when I truly accepted my cancer and decided to live and not think about dying. I write positive posts on my face book page and encourage everyone I can think of. I smile more at strangers and try to be a positive influence in my children and grand children’s life. I send cards, letters and try to keep my life calm and happy. So far it is working.

 

FullSizeRender-2How has cancer changed your life? Did you have one pivotal moment or has the journey been one of progression and growth?

I have made up my mind to be as content as possible and when speaking to everyone be positive. I send angels and love to all my fellow cancer survivors on the blogs I am on and honestly, I really understand what living in the moment means now. No one is happy 24/7 but when we are not we don’t have to bring our bad mood to the people around us. Sometimes you just have to go inside yourself to find your peace.

What makes you most happy, and where do you find the most joy? Is this different than BC (before cancer)?

I think I am the happiest when I am around people. Interacting with others brings me joy, especially strangers. Before cancer I was not as careful with my words and would be brought into unfavorable conversations about people, Now I am very cognizant of what I say and how I say things. God tells you yesterday is but a memory and tomorrow is never promised, all we have is this moment. I savor this moment.

People mean well, but often they don’t know what to say, so they say the WRONG thing. What is the worst thing someone has said to you?

Its not what they say it is the look on their face when you tell them you have stage 4 cancer. You would think they were going to your wake! I don’t mind the I am sorry or so sad to learn that, but the pathetic “you have one foot in the grave look” annoys me. The most hurtful thing came from a friend that said “ I didn’t want to bother you by calling or visiting. I stayed away because I figured you would have your family there” My family is no where near me.

Kathy's Courage Wall
Kathie’s Courage Wall

What did or do you find most helpful for those wanting to encourage or help you?

I have friends that text me often just to say hi or that they were thinking about me. Knowing that someone cares is amazing when you are struggling and it seems these “God nudges” come a just the right time.

What did or do you find most helpful for those wanting to encourage or help you?

Breast cancer is breast cancer. Does it really matter? Perhaps we will have a cure some day. I am a survivor. Many of the lesser stages worry about recurrence so what is the difference. They could be in stage 4 at any time. Much to do about nothing.

What do you want people to know about YOU and your life living with this disease?

I want people to know that my life mattered. I want to be the pebble thrown in the lake that ripples. I will never win a Nobel Peace prize but I want those that know and love me to think I have in their lives.

Do you think our cure is near? Or what one scientific advancement in the treatment of MBC do you find most encouraging.

Honestly, NO. When I am in a group of breast cancer ladies it takes me aback to see how much younger they are getting. It is in our food and life style and until we figure that out we are doomed. On the upside I think new target drugs will be the answer to treating the disease. We are moving to thinking of cancer as a chronic illness, much like diabetes.

What is one “action” point everyone could do TODAY to promote awareness of MBC.

Support local cancer events. I like when money raised stays in the community. It needs to help with the expenses. Women are being divorced with this illness, medical costs are astronomical, and care needs to be cost effective to everyone, not just the poor. I worked all my life and find my savings being depleted by a catastrophic illness. Just not fair.

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Do you have a favorite poem, song, quote, or work of art that you would like to share with us.

 I guess my favorite inspiration is the Bible. I follow other inspirational pages on face book and find many things that keep me grounded in the moment. I intend to share my positive feelings until I can no longer do that. I also know God has his hand on my life. I rarely ask “Why me God? But often say “why not me”. God has given me a chance to make a good life. One with purpose and reason. I only hope I do not disappoint Him or my family

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Thank you to all of the women, who have shared their stories with the #voicesofMBC community the past few months.  If you haven’t had a chance to read them all, I hope that you will …… each story is unique.

Until Monday, enjoy your weekend all, I am headed to the beach.

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2 comments

  1. My mother is an amazing woman and a hero. She is stronger than I will ever even aspire to be. She raised 3 successful children and I love her more than life itself! She’s a fighter and an inspiration to everyone she meets. As I read this I just felt proud. My mother is not dying! SHES LIVING! I love you mom!

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