–An update to this story on the news at KSBY: http://www.ksby.com/story/37923935/mission-hope-patient-shares-cancer-survival-story-ahead-of-day-of-hope
2017 began with an innate sense that if we don’t connect with nature, we will lose our way. Inspiration jolted me from bed most mornings before the 5:30 alarm clock mimicked the chimes of London. I wrote with passion and unleashed a part of me that I had reigned in and kept silent.
This project consumed me. It caused me to run late working on an important fundraiser that Spouse and I, along with a small army of volunteers began seven years ago. But, the fundraiser did come together and successfully ran in early November. We put over $20,000 into Pacific Wildlife Care’s bank account. That warmed my heart.
Our political world grew in further separation, which saddened me. It was as if some cancer had taken over American society’s common sense that simply refuses to understand that when one leans too far left or right, the danger of tipping over into dangerous waters increases exponentially. I’ve watched the abortion of important words like compassion and empathy — but at the same time watched people come together in the face of a multitude of tragedies that riddled this year with bullets, floods, storms and fires.
Through these 12 months, a medical cancer did strike my friends and colleagues. It was as if a deluge of rogue cells from what I call cancer-world rained on many people I know. And at the same time it never dawned on me that, I, a breast cancer survivor, should have kept my umbrella at hand.
Oh, I had a few physical things that I easily brushed off as signs of aging, like maybe pulling one too many deep rooted weeds from the garden, or the result of over exertion during a hike through nature. I made regular check up visits to the doctor, had annual blood tests, the mammogram, and it was assumed that I was doing quite well for a woman approaching her seventh decade.
By October, however, there were bouts of complete exhaustion, and I noticed that the occasional spotting (vaginal blood) was becoming more pronounced. It’s embarrassing and I kept it to myself, making note that once this big November fundraiser was over, I would go see an ob/gyn.
By mid December I was finally able to get an appointment. On my 69th birthday this year, I received news that I have cancer. Three days later I learned that it’s not a simple cancer, but a malignant and rare form of uterine cancer — uterine sarcoma.
Well, this changes things, doesn’t it? Fortunately, I am now under treatment by an gynecologic oncologist who has bumped me way up the treatment ladder for surgery this January.
What happens next? I have no idea. January’s toast, however. Much of my earlier plans are now erased. For the moment, I am trying to process this end of year notice and find my way to what ever purpose I was born.
I’ll never fully understand why life brings these twists and turns. But it does. I’m back in cancer-world — but I am in good company.
This brings me to my plea to stop the vitriol and the armed resistance to truth and fact. Impermanence reigns, and it is up to you and I to assume that each step we take has meaning, and that each step be soft in kindness, compassion and empathy for each other. There is no one single highway in life and we are fools to believe that to be so. We exist in an elliptical circle that renders north, south, east, west, up and down. Truth has many directions. Truth does not end in an ism.
And so begins another year. I am grateful for the loves of my life. I am grateful for the dear ones of my life. I am grateful for those with whom I associate. I am grateful for those who wish to challenge my points of view. I am grateful that this cancer within me has been found. I am grateful for every moment when the madness of words overcomes me and I am compelled to put them to paper. I am grateful to have another learning opportunity.
I’ve begun the chronicle of my second visit into cancer-world.
What’s ahead? Surgery and three to five days of hospitalization. Four to six weeks recuperation. To be continued.
FROM KSBY NEWS ON APRIL 11, 2018:
Mission Hope patient shares cancer survival story ahead of ‘Day of Hope’
Posted: Apr 10, 2018 11:29 AM PDT
Updated: Apr 10, 2018 11:29 AM PDT
By Christina FavuzziCONNECT
Wednesday, April 11 marks the fifth annual Day of Hope for the Mission Hope Cancer Center in Santa Maria.
The event is one of the largest cancer fundraisers of the year in Santa Barbara County.
Hundreds of volunteers will line the streets of Santa Maria, Orcutt, Lompoc, Santa Ynez and Nipomo Wednesday morning selling special-edition $1 newspapers.
All of the money raised stays in our community and benefits patients and families of Mission Hope Cancer Center. The proceeds help fund patient support services, new technology and clinical trials, all at no cost to the patients.
The extra pro-bono services are part of Mission Hope’s commitment to helping people get through such a difficult time in their lives.
Cambria resident Charmaine Coimbra is cancer-free thanks to the medical staff at Mission Hope who offered her specialized care.
“The short story begins on my birthday last December,” Coimbra said. “My OBGYN called and said, ‘Happy birthday. You have cancer.'”
A breast cancer survivor, Coimbra quickly formulated her plan of attack. This time, against uterine sarcoma.
“The second sentence from my OBGYN was, ‘Do you want to go north or south?’ And I had absolutely no idea what she meant by that,” she said.
Coimbra’s options were to go north to the Bay Area — “Or, I could go to Santa Maria where there is a gynecological oncologist on staff which is one who has uterine cancer should really go see,” Coimbra said. “Obviously, I chose Santa Maria.”
That gynecologic oncologist is Dr. Christopher Lutman.
“Charmaine had a difficult cancer problem given her sarcoma diagnosis,” Dr. Lutman said. “She handled everything with a tremendous amount of grace and courage.”
“The Mission Hope Center had a real sense of peace that was really comforting because I have to tell you, I was scared out of my mind,” said Coimbra.
Shortly after she was diagnosed, Dr. Lutman had Coimbra undergo a full hysterectomy. Just recently, she finished radiation.
Now as she heals, Coimbra says she immensely grateful to have had Mission Hope Cancer Center in her backyard.
“We are really blessed as women to have this sort of facility right here on the Central Coast,” she said.
Dr. Lutman says fundraising efforts like Day of Hope help the team at Mission Hope Cancer Center save lives like Coimbra’s.
“The community support for Mission Hope and the resources that are raised through the Day of Hope effort has a direct clinical and non-clinical impact on the lives and quality of life for our patients,” he said.
You can support Day of Hope by purchasing a newspaper or donating online.