jillianduch
Let's raise our shoes to a woman who fought breast cancer twice, fought to serve in the Navy after being diagnosed, and only lost one of those battles. This came from her friend, Janita, who will serve on the medical crew in San Diego this year.

April 6, 2001, I woke up early and dressed professionally and prepared for the drive for the Naval Reserve unit I had just joined. I was 36 and had been welcomed back into the military world. I was able to lift my head again. After driving 45 minutes I arrived at the unit and begin to get introduced to the many men and women who were my new shipmates.

That weekend there was another woman who had rejoined, but although her story was similar in that she had been forced to the Navy before, the reason why was not by her doing. She had been diagnosed with Breast Cancer, gone through treatment and been deemed unable to continue with military service. That was 3 1/2 years earlier, and now after a legal battle had been allowed to reenlist.

Three years went by and be had become good friends. I learned that this friend had two young girls which she had been forced to raise on her own because her husband had not been able to deal with her original BC diagnosis.

The one and only training trip we were ever able to take together we to Naval Air Station, San Diego, that was a great weekend. On April 4, 2004, I lost my father to heart failure, resulting from cardiogenic shock. Eventually, I withdrew from active drilling, but my friend continued on. We remained friends, though we weren't able to visit as often. That fall my friend celebrated 5 years free from BC and decided to have reconstructive surgery done, she had been wearing prosthetics up to this point.

After surgery, she began having problems with the healing of the incision and the implant had to be removed, shortly after this tests found that she was to battle BC again, except this time is was found in her bone marrow. And battle she did, with chemo flowing within her veins and God fighting on her side.

One evening in the summer of 2007, my friend was watching television and watching bruises break out on her legs spontaneously. The next round of blood tests revealed that the chemo had caused her to develop thrombocytopenea and chemo had to stop, and there was nothing else the doctors could help her fight with. God, family and her beautiful young girls were all she had to help her fight from then on.

Her condition began to worsen, and her doctors decided that a trip to Mayo should be made. When she got there, the doctors there advised to to get her affairs in order and the prognosis was terminal. Her family had a benefit for her before this trip and much was raised in order to pay for this trip.

While at the benefit, plans were made for a "ladies night" was to be had in order to celebrate the birthday of the US Navy, and it was to be a PJ party. Several of us arrived, and a couple were missed, but there also was her two daughters dressed to be our side boys, and her brother was there to visit (he stayed with their sister that night). We honored the Navy, then honored one another, but most of all we honored our mutual friend. One of her other friends (Senior Chief), spoke of their plans to fly to Hawaii within the next few weeks. We prayed that she would be able to go.

As the next couple of weeks passed, her condition worsened and the airlines deemed her unable to fly and they would not be able to secure her well being. During this time she had to go to the hospital several to have fluid drained from her chest as it was making it difficult to breath. I find it hard to remember exactly what day it was, but the day came when I was told by Senior Chief that our friend had passed, she had gone to a hospice house and was surrounded by friends and family and her girls.

I could only go to the wake, but go I did. There she was, dressed in Blues, she was beautiful, and she was most honored that day.

I chose that fall to help her fight breast cancer in the only way I knew how, to walk in Chicago at the Breast Cancer 3-day. I walked last summer in honor of Margaret's memory, This year I will use my nursing education to honor those who are able to continue their personal fights.

God's Peace to all!

Janita
Crewzn' 60
Chicago, Walker, 2008
San Diego, Medical Crew, 2009


From Jill: If you're interested in sharing your own inspiration for walking the in the Breast Cancer 3-Day, e-mail it to me at jillianduch@hotmail.com.
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  1. Thank you so much for sharing such inspirational stories each week! I love reading your blog!