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“The Swimmer’s” Share The Care™ Group

 

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    by

    Sharon Groff

    “The Swimmer’s” Share The Care™ Group
    Marshfield, Wisconsin
    Part 1 by
    Sharon Groff

    The best way to explain our journey to Share The Care™ is to read Sharon’s speech given at the initial gathering of the group on January 31, 2003:

    “My journey with Breast Cancer began in February 1996. My emotional journey with Breast Cancer began 40 years ago when my mother dealt with the disease and died when she was 48 years old and I was 11. Both my children have passed the age of 11 in the past 7 years – a milestone for me.

    Things have changed in the past 40 years. Both my mother and I had mastectomies but that is about where the similarities end. After my initial treatment I had 3 years of “remission”. In 1999, 3 1/2 years ago, I was diagnosed with metastasis in the liver. I have been under treatment since that time. I’ve had:

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    3 hormonal therapies
    12 different chemotherapy agents
    2 different radiology procedures including radiofrequency ablation and chemoembolization
    14 different treatment plans
    I’ve lost my hair 3 times and may be losing it again with current therapy
    Had 6 hospitalizations
    2 port-a-catheters (2nd is still working after2 years)
    My doctor told me once I would need to get over my aversion to needles. I’m still not crazy about needles but I’ve learned to get poked – probably about 300 times over the past 7 years.
    I’ve also explored the alternative therapies, including energy work, herbal supplements and meditation.
    Most importantly, I’ve learned how to live in the midst of this. We have vacationed, hiked, cross-country skied, followed our children activities, gardened and have enjoyed a good quality of life.
    There are other differences in the past 40 years. Physicians have been honest. I have received optimal care at Marshfield Clinic without traveling around the country. Options exist in treatment and I’ve been able to choose my path.

    Currently I have chosen a hormonal therapy and another chemotherapy agent. If nothing emergent occurs the next CAT scan will be March 6th.

    One of the things I want to explain is why I am interested in this group at two reasons:

    • In the past many of you have already been offering a helping hand and carried us through some stressful times. It has always been a concern of ours that others take care of themselves and their families first and help as they can. Friends always seem to find time but I really like the idea of Share The Care™ where people plug in as they have time both physically and emotionally and having coordinators will offer a comfort zone where people can come and go.
    • The second reason is a result of recent therapies and the CAT scan of the lower abdomen on the 20th of January. Over the past 3 months I’ve had 3 CAT scans which all showed increase of tumor activity in the liver and the lymph nodes in the hepatic area. I’ve had 2 different therapies during those 12 weeks. The therapy in December and January resulted in a reaction to medicine necessitating an ER visit and a stay at St. Joseph’s overnight. The cancer continued to grow.

    After the news on the 20th I had a good cry, a sleepless night, but the night allowed for some clarity of vision. It was clear to me that the “Share The Care™ ” which I had heard about and talked to friends about was my next step. Mindy was willing to help me through this.

    I see this as a time to reduce unnecessary stress and prepare for the possibility of death in the near future. There, I’ve said the word death but I do not plan to use the D word again tonight. The D word carries a lot of emotion for me and probably for many of you. I prefer to view this as a time of transition. All of us in this room are transitioning however my CAT scan indicates a higher probability that I might be transitioning earlier. I deeply desire the transition to be as graceful as possible. I am fortunate to have the time and support to seek this goal.

    I am overwhelmed with tonight’s response. As a family we are all a bit embarrassed with the attention when we know many suffer in far greater ways than we have. Our hope is that the journey will allow for growth in all of us and that the Coalition will be able to assist others with serious illnesses.

    During medical emergencies I often cannot think clearly and really can’t plan. It is my hope that in spite of what may be happening:

    • Sonya & Marcus will continue their lives becoming independent, responsible and respectful of others.
    • Brian will be able to meet his patients with wisdom and compassion. He will not be worrying about family life while at work. His stress load will be reduced so we can continue to experience quality time together.
    • For myself I don’t want to worry about family. I want to be present in the moment wherever that may be – chemo room, hospital, or my favorite spot – the sofa!

    Things can medically change very quickly. We will send out e-mails when my medical status significantly changes. If you have questions you can e-mail or contact Mindy and Jean who will know what is going on. I usually respond to e-mails and phone messages within 24 hours.

    Thank you for being here and thank you for honoring our 9 X 9 club – Where we meditate on Calmness, Compassion in the Community, and Peace for the World.