Jayne's "Story of Hope"

It had all began in 1999. As it was, it was already a tough year. My grandfather had passed away in February, my cousin (my mother's niece) had passed away in April, then May came and my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. I can remember it so clear, like it was yesterday. My mom had gone to the gynecologist just for a regular check up and while the doctor was doing a breast exam, she felt a lump. She advised my mom that she did feel something, but wanted to be sure, so sent her for a mammography and sonogram.

This all happened on a Friday, and I was home at my dad's house. I got a phone call from my mom and when I answered, she was crying and then put my stepfather on the phone. There was no way of beating around the bush, so he said, "You might want to come over now". When I asked what was wrong, he said, "Your mom has breast cancer"! I hung up the phone immediately, started crying and yelling, "Why did this have to happen". I felt like there was a black cloud following my mom's side of the family. I immediately started throwing clothes in a bag, not even paying attention to what I was bringing. I drove out to my mom's house in Smithtown. What a drive that was. A drive that normally takes a half-hour, felt like it took forever. I had so many thoughts going through my head. I finally arrived at my mom's house. As soon as I saw her, I started to cry. My mom kept saying, "I'll be ok, don't worry." Right from that very moment she had the attitude of, “I'M GOING TO BEAT THIS!”. There were a couple of people at my mom's, that I think made the situation a little easier. Myself, my sister Kathy, my mom's best friend Corinne, and a couple of others. We all had a focus, and that was that we all loved my mom and were there to support her and get her through this horrible disease.

From that point on it wasn't easy. I was over my mom's all the time before she even had the lumpectomy or the chemo. The doctors had advised her that she would most likely lose her hair and had suggested to get a really short hair cut so that if and when her hair did come out, it wouldn't be as traumatic. Otherwise, if it were longer it would come out in clumps.

My mom had a lumpectomy at Stonybrook University Hospital by Dr. Brian. The nurse brought me, my sister Kathy, and my stepfather into the room my mom was in before her surgery. Dr. Brian was also in the room, wearing a surgeon’s hat with breast cancer symbols all over it. Dr. Brian introduced himself and asked if we had any questions. He had advised us once the surgery was over; he would come out to speak with us. As Dr. Brian was wheeling my mom into surgery, he looked at my sister and me and said, " Don't worry, I'll take good care of your mom". The surgery took a couple of hours, but when it was finally over, Dr. Brian came out to speak with us. He said my mom did great. He did a lumpectomy, and they would biopsy it along with other parts of her breast. A couple of days later, my mom received a phone call from Dr. Brian saying that the biopsy came back, and there was still more cancer. My mom would have to have another surgery. So about a week later, my mom was back in the hospital having surgery.

After her second surgery, about a month later my mom started chemo. She started losing her hair, eyebrows, eyelashes, and any type of body hair. But my mom still had a positive attitude. She would joke around and laugh as she said, "Well at least I don't have to shave.".

Despite her amazing attitude, she had a rough time with the chemo. It made her very sick and weak. Thank god for my sister Kathy, who lived with my mom at the time. Kathy would bathe my mom, get her dressed, run errands for her, and was constantly getting her something to eat. Boy did she have weird cravings.

My mom was never really a fast food person, but she would send Kathy out for Burger King, and by the time Kathy got back her craving would be something like Taco Bell.

The outpouring of support she continued to receive was unbelievable! When you would walk into my mom's house, it had smelt like a florist. She constantly received cards in the mail everyday, along with chocolate, fruit, etc. People from her job, her friends, and my family would call, and stop over, just to keep her company and her spirit's up. The months of chemo where tough and long, but she made it through, and was determined that she was going to win this fight!

Through her doctors, my mom found out about a support group and decided to go. The more she went, the more she liked it. While going to them, she met a survivor named Linda. Linda and my mom hit it off right away. Although complete opposites in every way, they became great friends. They were like a tag team and each other's support. Linda and my mom had become very involved with breast cancer by going to different fundraiser's, support groups, and even signed up together to do the Avon 3-Day Breast Cancer walk. My sister Kathy had also signed up to walk with my mom and Linda. The walk began in Bear Mountain NY, and ended in Central Park NY. My mom, Kathy, and Linda had started walking every night to train for this big event. When my mom and Kathy had originally signed up, they had to raise $1800.00 each. Both Kathy and my mom exceeded that. My mom raised $48.000.00 and Kathy raised $38,000.00! There was a lot to prepare for this trip. Aside from the training and preparation for your feet to be in shock, they also had to prepare clothes, socks, flashlights, shampoo, etc. Both Kathy and my mom had a huge bag they brought up with them.

The day finally came when they started their journey. The 3-Day Avon Breast Cancer walk was 60 miles. My mom had said, "I'm determined to do this and cross the finish line, no matter what." My friend Marguerite and I had drove into Manhattan Central Park, and met my cousin's there. I wanted to get flowers, for when my mom, Kathy and Linda crossed the finish line. I walked and walked searching for a florist. Finally about a mile away, I came to a florist, bought a couple of bouquets of flowers for everyone to give to my mom, sister and Linda. We where all there to cheer my mom sister and Linda on as they crossed the finish line. We had got there about 2 hours before they arrived, but when the time came close, for the people that were walking, the experience was incredible. I saw my sister first, then my mom not too far behind her.

When I saw my mom cross that finish line, you could tell how much pain she was in. She had her feet and legs all bandaged up and she was crying. What a moving and incredible moment. I was so proud of my sister and Linda, but especially for my mom. The ceremony was beautiful and so inspiring.

When we finally were able to get near her, she was barley able to walk and had tears rolling down her eyes. We all ran up to them with tears in our eyes. When I saw my mom and gave her the flowers, I was so emotional. The only thing I could say was, "I'm so proud of you and I love you,". Despite the fact it was hot during the day and cold at night, with blisters on their feet, they did it!

Like my mom said, "I'm determined to do this and going to cross the finish line no matter what!" My mom said it was such a great experience, and as a matter a fact she did another 3-day walk again.

A couple of weeks later, Linda and my mom started going to fundraisers, for breast cancer. After going to so many of them, they decided that they can do it too!

They both decided to brainstorm with different ideas and decided on a fashion show, They would have it in October and call it the, "Fall Fashion Festival". Linda works at Stonybrook Hospital, so they decided to have the doctors, nurses, and staff do the modeling.

Dr D, who is my mom and Linda's oncologist, and Dr Brian, their surgeon were both models. Both my mom and Linda worked long and hard. Although they both had never done anything like this before, they were a tag team and determined, and were going to give it there best shot. The models consisted of both men and women. Brooks Brother, Chico’s and Jones provided the clothes. There was a Chinese auction of different baskets, a 50/50, along with a DJ and MC to keep the crowd going.

All their hard work had paid off. The “Fall Fashion Festival” was a huge success and completely sold out. Most of the people that attended were from the hospital, doctors, nurses, along with friends and family of my mom and Linda.

It was incredible! By the end of the night people where dancing on top of tables and didn't want to leave. It looked like a wedding, or party, because everyone was having such a great time, and for a great cause. So here were two women that had breast cancer, met at a support group, put together a fundraiser for breast cancer, and now this will be the fourth year in a row for the “Fall Fashion Festival”.

Last year in 2003 when my mom was in remission for about three years, she was going to the doctors for her regular check ups. Just when she least expected it, Dr Brian had discovered that my mom had breast cancer again. She was so upset and didn't know how to tell Kathy or I. At the time I was looking for an apartment, because of the floods I was having in mine, and my car had died. So I was already upset and stressed with everything that was going on with me.

It was a Friday and my mom had called me up and asked me to come up for lunch at her job. When I got there, she told me to go upstairs and talk to her friend Donna, who was a counselor at a school. I thought I was going up there to talk about my situation. My mom had come into Donna's apartment, and sat down. Donna had explained to my mom the advise and guidance she had given me. Then at that very moment my mom looked at me with this scared look in her eyes, and said, " Tra, we need to talk. It's back.". I looked at my mom and knew exactly what she was talking about. I started to crying and asking how this could be possible. This was now the second time my mom had breast cancer. What are the chances? My mom also explained to me the reason why she asked me to come to lunch and talk to Donna. She was worried that I was already stressed out and upset to begin with all the things going on with me. When she told me that, the first thing I said was "Forget about me, it's all about you, and your my first priority now!" All that kept running though my mind was, "Why is this happening again?", and for the second time. When you hear about someone having breast cancer, it's not that often you hear they got it twice. Dr. Brian had told my mom she would need to have a mastectomy, and that this time the cancer was very aggressive. You could tell by looking at my mom's face, she was thinking, “Not this again.”, and she knew how sick she would get from the chemo being that she had been though it already.

My sister and I both took off from work the day of her surgery. Again we were all there in the waiting room. The surgery took a couple of hours and when it was all over, Dr. Brian came out to talk to us. He told us that everything went good, it was just a lot of surgery. I went home that night and Kathy stayed with my mom in the hospital. My mom was there for a couple of days, and when she came home, her sister Carol had come to stay and help out, and when Carol left, her other sister Sharon had come to stay. It took a while for my mom to heal and she had to have chemo for six months. My mom again like the last time, got another short hair cut, being prepared to lose all her hair again. The first time around she mostly wore wigs, except when she was home. This time around she wore mostly baseball caps. It was a long, scary, bumpy road, but she made it through. I know it wasn't easy for her.

It's now been a little over a year since she had her mastectomy, and she is doing great! There are days where she gets tired, but over all, my mom is a fighter and this was a battle that she wasn't going to lose! I'm so proud of her; she is so courageous and strong. I love my mom with all my heart and soul. She is not only my mom, she is my best friend.

Story By: Tracy Melleby

Shown Above: Tracy and Kathy Melleby

| Lila Jane Givens Miller Story of Hope | Jayne's Story of Hope | Anthony's Story of Hope | Antonette's Story of Hope | Kristine's Story of Hope | Justina's Story of Hope | Jeanne's Story of Hope | Christine's Story of Hope | Debra's Story of Hope | Piera's Story | Joanne's Story of Hope | Tom's Story of Hope | Margaret's Story of Hope | Gina's Story of Hope |
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