Dear Doctors, While you profiled stress, he died of cancer.

Dear Doctor, While you profiled stress, he died of cancer.

He didn’t have to die. Not the way he did. I write these words not for drama sake nor your pity and prayers. I have been silent, up to this point, in order to deal with my own health issue. But now that I am finished with what I hope to be my final big deal in this breast cancer journey, it’s time to speak up.

PLEASE NOTE: The article below was originally posted on my old blog. I am re-posting due to the latest revelations about the ethylene oxide emissions in my community. I am stunned. You will find the link to the update article at the bottom of this post. 

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February 6, 2018

Denial never sustainably served anyone. I am not sweeping this under the rug. Consider this post a tiny ripple in a vast ocean of health care despair; urging attention, focus and advocacy for solutions in a health care system that breaks as many hearts — in what they miss and dismiss — as the diseases/conditions they work to cure.

“… Ray lived only 50 days beyond diagnosis and most of that in a hospital. And now, I am left to digest that it was a slow-growing cancer, missed by a medical system of specialists and primary care that only looked at their piece of the elephant. A blog for another day.” — Why I’m Not Fighting Cancer Again,  July 2017

Today is another day. Why today? Because on February 6, 2017, I was not sitting at a keyboard in front of a computer screen. I was sitting in the emergency room of a hospital an hour away from home, terrified that someone I loved lost his footing and fell between the cracks within the medical community that was supposed to help him — to the point that suicide now appeared his only option for relief. Continue reading “Dear Doctors, While you profiled stress, he died of cancer.”

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Ray Died. I Got Breast Cancer. Ethylene Oxide. Medical Mayhem.

Covington Georgia Courthouse

In 2001, Ray and I bought a house in a neighborhood not far from a plant that uses ethylene oxide, a chemical used to sterilize medical equipment. It is a mutagen, meaning that it alters genetic material in cells, and is known by the EPA to cause cancer.

Ray and I didn’t know all that stuff when we moved into our 100-year-old mill house. Didn’t know that we needed to. We were excited about the creative venture of remodeling our new home, and looked forward to experiencing what life had to offer in Covington, Georgia, a small bedroom community east of Atlanta.

March 26, 2017, Ray died of cancer, found too late. Stage IV metastatic. In his liver, lungs, spine, and brain. Just 3 months after he died, I was diagnosed with Stage II breast cancer, invasive lobular carcinoma. The medical devices and supplies used in Ray’s final days at Emory Hospital, and used for my mastectomy at Piedmont/Rockdale Hospital, might very well have come from this medical equipment plant. A plant now on the radar for emissions that could have caused the cancer that took Ray and my breast.

With documented leakages, and questionable self-reporting of the emissions leaving their facilities, I guess we needed to know all that stuff after all. The watchdogs entrusted to do their jobs were sleeping, it seems. Or looking the other way.

Does anybody else see the irony here? A company that makes its money supplying hospitals and doctors with medical equipment also supplying hospitals and doctors with patients?

I can only label this as “full circle medical mayhem.” Continue reading “Ray Died. I Got Breast Cancer. Ethylene Oxide. Medical Mayhem.”

Competing with Your Past. Bernadette’s Messy Musings Takes On Bernadette’s Musings from the Messy Room.

Do Your Thing. Blog post by Bernadette Rose Smith in Bernadette's Messy Musings

Ever find yourself in competition with an old version of you, one that you’re trying to grow beyond because it’s in your best interest to do so, but it seems the world around you isn’t quite ready for the change—or even set against it?

Frustrating, isn’t it? And kind of scary when you are crawling out from a dark place, and your eyes haven’t adjusted to what the light-of-possibility has to offer you. There’s a lot of trial and error involved in any attempt to embrace a new life while moving on from an old you. Particularly if those around you react as if you belong to them, because of the role you play in their life.

Since I lost Ray and my breast to cancer, I have been vigilant in shaking loose from the bad stories that surface, in finding ways the present-me can thrive and coexist in peace with the past-me while she transitions through the sense of loss she feels some days.

A Glitchy Leap of Faith is Better than No Leap at All.
When the bots booted me out of Bernadette’s Musings from the Messy Room, (Bots. Bandwidth. Blah-Blah-Blah…) I chose to embrace the blank canvas forced upon me, and set about the business of creating a new home for the “next chapter Bernadette.” (About Now)

A few days ago, I decided to see how the new site was doing in the search engines. I typed in Bernadette’s Messy Musings, the present me, and Google showed Bernadette’s Musings from the Messy Room, the past me. So, I typed in Bernadette’s Messy Musings WordPress, and still got Bernadette’s Musings from the Messy Room. I typed in my name; pages and pages from the Messy Room stared back at me. Continue reading “Competing with Your Past. Bernadette’s Messy Musings Takes On Bernadette’s Musings from the Messy Room.”

Bots. Bandwidth. Blah-Blah-Blah. Bots are Booting Me Out of My Messy Room.

Acceptance. Let Go. Bernadette's Messy Musings

As I stare at this forced-upon-me blank canvas on this new website platform — not sure what to write — Bernadette’s Musings from the Messy Room is under what they call “brute force attack.” The bots are squeezing me out, using up the bandwidth, and banging on the door trying to get my password. I feel like I am in an episode of The Walking Dead where the zombies take over the town and more just keep coming … and coming …

When I was told the fixes weren’t diverting them and chances were not looking good for restoring the site, it broke my heart. There is so much history in those pages: creative projects, collaborations, heart-felt exchanges. My spirit is humbled when I read the hundreds of comments left there. I am sad to have to let them go.

Plus, closing the door on the Messy Room so soon after losing Ray — and my breast — to cancer feels like giving up another piece of us. The timing of this good-bye is surreal but my gut says something new — and necessary — is around the corner. Continue reading “Bots. Bandwidth. Blah-Blah-Blah. Bots are Booting Me Out of My Messy Room.”