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Me outside cancer

Every loss of every dear sister makes me hunger for what their lives were before cancer. The loss of our dear Becca has amplified this. I realize this forum is public so we are somewhat guarded in our true identity but I'm challenging those of us that want to share a little bit of ourselves outside of cancer in this new topic.  

So my real name is Susan. I just turned 60 on September 2. I was the 1976 Pinconning (MI) Cheese Queen hence my handle. I grew up in Michigan and went to MSU with Magic Johnson and graduated the year they won the NCAA national basketball championship (1979). My degree was in Human Nutrition & Foods. I then moved out to Tucson, AZ worked and got my masters at the University of Arizona in Nutrition and became a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN). On St Patrick's Day at a bar called The Green Dolphin I met my husband Angelo who was trying to convince me he was Irish (Actually he is half).  10 months later we were married and have been married 31 years. We live 30 miles north of Philadelphia in  300 year ol town in a 130 year old house. 

At 35 I had our only child Alex who is the light of my life. He is 25 and went to University of Maryland. I lover college basketball, especially the Spartans, Wildcats, and Terps. 

I worked for many years at an HMO and a pharma comp specializing in diabetes. When downsized I started my own counseling practice.I've had to give that up. 

I spend much of the summer at our condo in Ocean City, MD On our 20' Grady White boat. Here's my Linked in profile and feel free to look me up on Facebook to see my public postings. http://linkedin.com/in/susanrago

I've had a fantastic life but it's still not long enough for me. I guess I'm greedy. I want so much more time. 

Comments

  • EZLiving66
    EZLiving66 Member Posts: 1,476 **
    edited September 2017 #2
    I agree with Susan.  Most of

    I agree with Susan.  Most of us only know each other as a fellow cancer victim but we are much more than that!!

    I am Eldri Guldan-Zahn, 65, and retired as of August 15th.  I met my husband when I was 16 and he was 17 on a blind date.  We were married when we were 18 and 19; had our first daughter when we were 19 and 20 and built a house that same year.  I was the oldest of five children of alcoholic parents and my husband's father went blind when he was 12.  From the time he was 14 he worked to help his family and by 16 he was working 40 hours a week all the while going to high school.  We were very old teenagers! It took me until 1986 to get my accounting degree while working at a national insurance company.  I left there in 1988 after ten years when we moved to Green Bay to buy our business.

    We have four children - 45, 43, 25 and 24.  The two oldest are our biological children, the two youngest are adopted but the 24 year old is our biological granddaughter.  We have no contact with our 45 year old daughter or her husband - no one in our family does by her choice.  It's sad but I've learned to live with her mental illness. Her only child is now our daughter (we did an adult adoption at her request) and she has no contact with her biological mother.

    We have three grandchildren by our second daughter who hobby farms with her husband. The oldest granddaughter just left for college, the second granddaughter is a junior in high school and our grandson is in seventh grade.

    Our son, the 25 year old, was eight when we got him as a foster child.  He was in second grade with our granddaughter (youngest daughter).  He was in special education and could not read or write.  He graduated from college two years ago with honors and on the dean's list (so much for labels, huh?).  He also played two varsity sports (three in high school) and is in that college's record books in both sports.  He was married in early August to a wonderful woman who is an English teacher.

    We have a home just outside Green Bay, WI but our son and his new wife are going to be living in it.  It's too big for us and consists of mowing over eight acres!  We also have a home in northern Wisconson on a lake and will be spending our summers here from now on.  Most days I fish.  I love to fish and my beloved husband baits my hook and takes the fish off.  Mostly I throw them back but once in awhile, he will clean them for a meal. He is the love of my life and we will be married 46 years this month.  

    The day after our retirement (we sold our business) we hopped on a plane to Florida and bought a house just north of Tampa about two miles inland from the gulf.  We "plan" to spend winters there if this newest hurricane doesn't blow it away. If it does, we'll find another one.

    For almost 30 years we owned a landscape/landscape maintenance business in Green Bay.  We are season ticket holders of the Packers which we "inherited" from my stepfather who bought them when the stadium opened in 1958.  The waiting list for tickets has about 80,000 people on it.  We don't go to the games anymore but our son and his new wife love to go so they use two of them.  

    For years while our son was in high school and even after he went to college, we ran the athletic booster club of his high school.  It's a big school and we met so many wonderful people there but it was hard work.  On home-game football Fridays, I'd start at ten in the morning making five 18-quart nesco roaster of chili and be there until ten that night.  Physically, I couldn't do that anymore but plan to do some volunteering once we get settled into our retirement life.

    Friend me on Facebook - I'm there most days, keeping up with the kids, the grandkids, friends and family.

    Love,

    Eldri

  • henhill
    henhill Member Posts: 123
    LOL

    My name is Sheila and I live in SE Massachusetts.  I am mother of 3, two sons and a daughter. My daughter was once a budding opera singer with the Portland opera Co young artists and now teaches music, including for the BSO at Tanglewood.  My oldest son is a social worker in Charlotte NC, and the other, after spending 5 years in the Army, 3 of them as Special Ops in Iraq, is now home safe and a fireman and painter.  His wife is a former Marine who served in Afghansistan, is also a Fireman, which we all find hilarious.  

    The arts side of my life belies the fact that I have spent my career in hardcore work.  Training for this was as the eldest and only girl of seven, and one of 64 grandshildren of my fabulous grandmother who died three months shy of a hundred.  Her immediate family filled the church at her funeral and being part of this enormous brood gave me a lifelong love for people.  I adore all my brothers, the last of which is 16 yeats younger, and thye are now very good to me after years of fighting, lol!  

    I am currently a program director for a program for homeless veterans with substance abuse, and have worked in many similar occupations, including inside many prisons in this state.  I spent 3 years working on a cell block in a maximum security facility, and am blessed to still communicate with many men and a few women, who were able to turn their lives around and live as they were meant to.  What a treasure that is for me.  Last week, as I was sitting in my chemo chair, I heard from two of them who always make sure to call and come by.  What amazing love I have for them, knowing how hard it was at times for them and how kind they are now.  It chokes me up when I think of it.

    I am sorry that, in the years when I might have enjoyed the quiet of my garden and the peace of good health, I am rather stuck with endless medical treatments and sickness.  I am pained by seeing how other people suffer with this disease, especially children and young mothers and fathers in the prime of life.  Yet, I still hope to enjoy the things I like to do, and to continue working as long as I can.  I do love the men I work with and the place, itself.  I also enjoy all of you, your stories of courage and the bittersweet journey we are all part of.   Thank you for sharing it here, making my own troubles less sad, confusing and scary.  I am blessed greatly by this, God keep,you all.

  • MAbound
    MAbound Member Posts: 1,156 **
    edited September 2017 #4
    Hesitation

    As I read this, there are 143 reads of this thread and only 3 posts. I like this idea, I really do because we are all more than the cancer we are fighting. But aside from the publicness of this forum, there is a value to our anonymity that can't be discounted. I hope I can say this right that you all can understand my concern.

    Cancer is the great equalizer that has struck us regardless of our backgrounds. It puts us all on an equal footing with each other and I think I would like to preserve that as much as I'd like to know you all better outside of this cancer. Knowing more about someone can't help but color how we percieve them or ourselves in relation to them. I'd hate for anyone here to feel like they shouldn't comment or start any of these threads because they are thinking there are others whose backgrounds make them more qualified to post. We all bring such special experiences, gifts, and perspectives to this board so it strikes me as a mistake to risk intimidating any of those voices. Does that make sense?

     

  • CheeseQueen57
    CheeseQueen57 Member Posts: 933
    MAbound said:

    Hesitation

    As I read this, there are 143 reads of this thread and only 3 posts. I like this idea, I really do because we are all more than the cancer we are fighting. But aside from the publicness of this forum, there is a value to our anonymity that can't be discounted. I hope I can say this right that you all can understand my concern.

    Cancer is the great equalizer that has struck us regardless of our backgrounds. It puts us all on an equal footing with each other and I think I would like to preserve that as much as I'd like to know you all better outside of this cancer. Knowing more about someone can't help but color how we percieve them or ourselves in relation to them. I'd hate for anyone here to feel like they shouldn't comment or start any of these threads because they are thinking there are others whose backgrounds make them more qualified to post. We all bring such special experiences, gifts, and perspectives to this board so it strikes me as a mistake to risk intimidating any of those voices. Does that make sense?

     

    MA I respect your perspective and of course my intention was not to make anyone feel that way. Those who would like to post can feel free and it's okay if people don't want to post. I guess I didn't want anyone to have to go digging around when my time is up or wonder what happened to me. : ). 

  • survivingsu
    survivingsu Member Posts: 134
    Appreciative but also hesitant

    Hi there,

    This is a fun and friendly concept.  I understand it is open to those who wish to post.  I would like to add another perspective...as people go through their treatments, and recover and beat the odds, there can be a guilt associated for the ones that did not make it.  When we see how accomplished our fellow CSN posters are, it can feed into the guilt, e.g., I do not have children, why was I spared and not so and so, etc. So I am torn - I do like reading about people's interesting and accomplished lives, but I respect both the anonymity and shared humanity.

    My best to everyone,

    another Susan 

  • MAbound
    MAbound Member Posts: 1,156 **

    MA I respect your perspective and of course my intention was not to make anyone feel that way. Those who would like to post can feel free and it's okay if people don't want to post. I guess I didn't want anyone to have to go digging around when my time is up or wonder what happened to me. : ). 

    No! No!

    I never meant to imply that you or anyone else would have such an intent and I apologize if I made you feel like I thought you did! That's just me not being very good at expressing myself, I guess. Please forgive me! I hate the thought that I'm being such a killjoy here for what should be a very fun and enjoyable thread.

    It's very selfless of you to share what you have, I just think the lack of posts show that people do have their concerns about joining in and I was sharing what I thought might be one of the possible reasons. SurvivingSu has added another interesting perspective and I bet there are others. I'm still mulling this over and will be very interested to hear what others have to say. 

    Thanks for your patience with me!

     

  • CheeseQueen57
    CheeseQueen57 Member Posts: 933

    Appreciative but also hesitant

    Hi there,

    This is a fun and friendly concept.  I understand it is open to those who wish to post.  I would like to add another perspective...as people go through their treatments, and recover and beat the odds, there can be a guilt associated for the ones that did not make it.  When we see how accomplished our fellow CSN posters are, it can feed into the guilt, e.g., I do not have children, why was I spared and not so and so, etc. So I am torn - I do like reading about people's interesting and accomplished lives, but I respect both the anonymity and shared humanity.

    My best to everyone,

    another Susan 

    Thanks

    Another interesting and thoughtful perspective. What clever gals we are. And MA, no offense taken at all!

  • derMaus
    derMaus Member Posts: 558
    Love this post!

    I love this idea and appreciate Cheese's courage in putting out there what I was thinking: Who was Becca? Her death affected me so profoundly, but it leaves a gap to have no idea who she was in the real world. Being able to google her eased my sorrow:  now I have some sense of who she was and the world she livd in. Some people put that information in their profiles, but the vast majority of profiles are blank. I know because mine was blank until 2 months ago, when I forced myself to fill it in. I need to commit to updating it regularly, too.

    I haven't done a real response to this post yet because I've been thinking on what I'd say, but this conversation has reminded me to speed up my thinking process. Thanks to all for the thoughtful feedback! B

  • Lou Ann M
    Lou Ann M Member Posts: 996
    Taking time to think

    I also love this post, but also it takes me time to think things out.  And I need energy to do that.  During the day my puppy helps with everything and in the evening, after I put her to bed, I am usually to tired or lazy to think straight.  I will get my story started soon soon. Cancer is an equalizer, for don't think I will think more or less of someone because of their life situation.

    Hugs and prayers, Lou Ann

  • Soup52
    Soup52 Member Posts: 905
    edited September 2017 #11
    I love this post and plan to

    I love this post and plan to post mine soon. So yes I have looked at this more than once, but I havent had time to compose mine, but I will:)

  • EZLiving66
    EZLiving66 Member Posts: 1,476 **
    edited September 2017 #12

    MA I respect your perspective and of course my intention was not to make anyone feel that way. Those who would like to post can feel free and it's okay if people don't want to post. I guess I didn't want anyone to have to go digging around when my time is up or wonder what happened to me. : ). 

    I understand that people

    I understand that people would hesitate to bare their soul but with a name like "Eldri" all you have to do is google it and you'll find me all over the internet.  Even when I'm at the doctor's office and they are trying to preserve people's privacy by calling their first name, I always have to laugh.  I have much more an anonymity if they'd yell out "Mrs. Zahn."  Obviously I don't want anyone stealing my identity but we make such a connection on here and yet, most of the time, don't really know each other.  Do we have a support system, are we alone, is this a huge financial drain or are we able to manage the financial end of it, etc.? 

    No one has a perfect life; no one has it all yet we all have one HUGE thing in common - we are fighting for our lives and only someone in that situation can truly understand it!

    Love,

    Eldri

    "As you grow older, you'll find the only things you regret are the things you didn't do."~Zachary Scott

  • henhill
    henhill Member Posts: 123
    No need to disclose

    I cant see it is necessary to disclose anything that you dont feel comfortable about.  I saw the post as an invitation to be more than someone who suffers  It seemed liberating  to round out the details of those we come to care about here.  Those lives matter in all their parts, but there is also no need to offer up  things that we would rather not.  I love the puppy story and the reason for the "cheese" name,  the Midwestern feel of the farm and the Packers, and the chance to recognize  all the good families, friends and children who will be affected by our struggles.

    I am sorry if some folks see it as a way to feel bad about not wanting to participate.  There are many threads to join in on that contain just the facts we are all interested in.  I doubt anyone here would think any less of those who choose to stick to these.

  • Jairoldi
    Jairoldi Member Posts: 221
    edited September 2017 #14
    Vermont

    Hi ladies,

    I am 57 and live in Vermont with my husband of 37 years. Together we have 5 adult children and 7 grandchildren. I learn so much from all of the posts and comments on this site. There is valuable information shared and I have been better prepared for my appointments because of this.

  • Soup52
    Soup52 Member Posts: 905
    edited September 2017 #15
    Hi! My name is Kathy. I get

    Hi! My name is Kathy. I get my login name from my last name. I'm sure you can figure it out from a popular soup brand.  I live on the edge of Peoria , Illinois. (A's I've said before in the land of Susan Komen) I'm 64 and have been married for 34 years. My husband has worked for the same landscape company for 45 years. We were too chicken to form our own company. He still works despite having prostate cancer and Parkinson's. We don't quit, but we decide to carry on with our lives. I'm a retired teacher and former lower level management at Bath and Body works. I enjoy gardening, getting together with our awesome neighbors, dinner at least once a month with high school friends, lunches with former neighbors, retired teachers, and former Sweet Adeline's members. We have 2 beautiful daughters. The eldest was born with a rare kidney disease. I donated a kidney to her 10 years ago and it's still going strong. She returged to college to complete her engineering degree 10 days after the transplant. She will marry next June. My younger daughter was married at Disney World in October 2015 one week before my hysterectomy. It was beautiful and worth it. I only wish I had felt better at that time. She lives in Beaumont, Texas and thankfully survived the storm. She will have our first grandson in November. I can't wait. This site has been a wonderful support! I treasure all of you!

  • TeddyandBears_Mom
    TeddyandBears_Mom Member Posts: 1,801 **
    Who Am I?

    Who Am I?

    This is a thought provoking thread to say the least! I also enjoy getting to know each person on a more personal level and understand any hesitancy to open that door on a public forum. So, to start with let me say that I'm more of a listener than a talker. So "talking" about myself isn't natural for me. Here goes:

    I am married to my best friend, Ted. We were high school sweethearts and broke up in my senior year. Fast forward 15+ years; Ted decided to find me and we picked up where we left off. Only this time with a lot more life lessons behind us. Now, 26+ years later we still wake up happy to see each other every morning and start each day with a warm hug. Ted has two sons and a daughter that he shares with me.  Let me just say, adult kids are easier to have a relationship with since they get to have their own thoughts. :-)  We have a grandson, 11 and a granddaughter, 4 months.

    Ted and I live in Central Florida and can't imagine being anywhere else. We live on the top of a hill with a view that looks like the TN mountains. When our families come to visit, they think we are in the middle of nowhere. tee hee..... While we do live in a small town, we do have plenty of restaraunts, Lowes, Walmart, and a hospital. What we don't have is tons of traffic and wait times at the DMV.

    I have two dogchildren that own me. They are quite spoiled and are the sweetest boys I could ask for. They are 6 years old and were rescued from a high kill shelter when they were 6 months old. I can't imagine life without them.

    I retired January, 2015 after 37 years in telecommunications. Hard to believe I'm old enough to have worked that long with one company. Geesh! I love not working and doing what I want to do, or not do every day. I'm 60 years old and hope to be blessed with a cancer free life for many more years to come.

    Love and Hugs,

    Cindi

     

  • Lou Ann M
    Lou Ann M Member Posts: 996
    edited September 2017 #17
    Me

    i am Lou Ann.  I was not creative enough to think of a new user name.  I am 70. I was a New Year's baby.  I grew up in a very rural setting 60 miles west of St. Louis. Mo. My father passed away from cancer when I was 14 after a 5 year battle.  I was raised by one very strong lady. I was the first person on both sides of my family to graduate from college, but not the last.  i am 100% German and married my college sweetheart, an Italian. My family didn't know if they should worry about that or the fact that he was a city boy.  We have been married for 48 years now, so I quess, it is going to work out.

    We have four children, two grand children and four great grand Children.   They are scattered from Alabama to Washington, so we don't get to see them as much i we would like.  I quess that Veteran's Day is an important day for our family.  My father in law was in WWII, husband,in Vietnam, our oldest son was stationed twice in Korea on the DMZ and our youngest served in Afghanista, Iraq, and Turkey. All in the Army and all Sargents. Our grandson is currently a Sargent in the Air Force.

    In 1979, we took a major leap of faith and loaded three little kids into a UHaul and moved to Montana.  We have lived in the same little mountain valley since than.  We have never looked back or regretted that move.  

    I retired three years ago after teaching school for 40 years.  I had a small classroom of very energetic 1st and 2nd graders.  I was truly blessed to have a job that I loved.

    Hugs and Prayers, Lou Ann

  • derMaus
    derMaus Member Posts: 558
                           

                           

  • DottieDean
    DottieDean Member Posts: 36
    edited September 2017 #19
    My story

    i married my high school sweetheart.  We will be married 55 years next March.  We have 4 daughters, 12 grandkiddos and 3great grandkids.  We married young, right out of high school.  We have been living in Arizona part of the year and Missouri the other 8 months, but this will probably change this coming year as I go through treatment.  I am a nurse, and work remotely doing paperwork.  I have taken medical leave but hope to get back to it soon as soon as my body (and mind) are up to it.  

    We are Christians and I am struggling right now believing God has a plan in all of this.  My head says He does, but my heart is shakey.  It will come, but I am still processing it all.

    i do like the idea of sharing some of our personal history - it makes us more than just women who have cane'er - this  disease has a way of defining who you are and we are all more than that.

    I have been on the site a lot the last couple of weeks - its been a blessing and I've made lots of my own notes for the future.  Thank you all.

  • Cass83
    Cass83 Member Posts: 151
    I love hearing your stories

    I love hearing your stories and getting to know the people behind the nicknames. I myself am an open book. I did a Facebook live and set it for public viewing at all my chemo's in order to hopefully help someone else on their journey. (Sandy Rumsey Smith)

    My real first name is Cassandra, but I go by Sandy. I was 51 when I was diagnosed last December, and am 52 now.I live in Macon, Missouri.

    My mother died of cervical cancer at 44 (my senior year of highschool) and my father died at 46 (the day before I turned 13). So I had to grow up fast. I was also happy to make it to 50! I am the only child they had together that survived (I have a sister that was a week old and went to heaven,  and have a 1/2 brother from my fathers marriage before my mom).

    I met my husband at work in 1983, we started dating in 1985, and were married in 1988. Next year it will be 30 years! He is my best friend and the best care giver during my journey I could have asked for. We have no kids of our own, but my church kids are "my kids".

    My husband and I lead a young adult/married couple class at our church, I am the children's church leader, my husband is a board member, and I am the church secretary. We are very involved in our church, United Trinity Church Assembly of God.

    I am a fitness instructor and personal trainer at my local YMCA. I teach (2) Total Body Workout classes, and Low Impact Aerobics class. I have been at the Y for 16 years and love it! I use to joke that I get paid to be healthy, but it was so true! I couldn't work from January-March during chemo when the cold/flu season was going on. I just started back teaching classes 3 weeks ago and feel good getting back to it again.

    I also am a PGR (Patriot Guard Rider) and LOVE our military! We escort veterans to their final resting place, as well as give escorts to honor flights when they go to Washington DC and back to Missouri. Thank you to those that have family members that have served or are serving!

    That is the short version! :)

  • Hma4
    Hma4 Member Posts: 38
    Thinking

    i too enjoy reading about your lives, I will get my thoughts together and share mine also.