I’m choosing to remember and write Theresa’s story in 4 parts. October would have been her birthday. She was ten years younger than me. This picture is from a family picnic in 2005.

Riding a motorcycle was gratifying and fulfilling for my sister Theresa, who was 10 years younger than me. While riding, she would encounter bumps, and she often referred her struggles and challenges as another bump in the road. These bumps can come as a surprise and shake us up a bit.

In 1999, Theresa felt a lump the size of a pea in her right breast. She was diagnosed with breast cancer. This was certainly a bump in the road for her. She chose to have a mastectomy, and started using Tamoxifen, but no radiation and no chemo. She was told her lymph nodes were cancer-free.

When she returned to the doctor several months later, she was told she had stage 4 cancer. Tamoxifen, she found out later, is not the best drug for some types of cancer. She was encouraged to undergo chemo after all. This setback was sad and disappointing, but Theresa was determined to fight.

She started researching what she could do to help her body heal. She learned about herbs and other nutritional foods that could help diminish the effects of cancer. She went to self-help seminars and conferences to help with her emotional concerns.

Theresa began her chemotherapy treatments. I remember her being very sick the first week. The following week was better, and finally she had a good week. And then she started all over again with another treatment.

After she was on chemotherapy for several months, they couldn’t keep her at the Department of Agriculture, so they asked her to clean out her desk. That was a very sad day for her. But she was not giving up easily! She knew and had already worked with the person who was doing great things for the Industrial Hemp Council, and he asked her if she wanted to work from home when she could. She dove right in again, planning conventions for the Industrial Hemp Council.

In September of 2004, Theresa wrote this email about a medication she had been on to treat bone disease in patients diagnosed with cancer: “My oncologist has stopped the drug that I received monthly since January 2003. Zometa gave me the feeling of security from bone pain, fractures, and further cancer development.

 I believe Zometa is the cause of my osteonecrosis of the jaw, which is not being diagnosed because Medicare will not cover the test! I had two teeth that just fell out and have three more teeth that are loose. He also mentioned it may be damaging my heart. Maybe, just maybe, being off Zometa will be a benefit. He says that there is no “data” stating that being on Zometa any longer will be of any benefit for me. He will see me in three months.

So, I am drug free! After three and a half years of being on different chemotherapy drugs, I’m scared because I grew so dependent on them. On a positive note, I expect my stage 4 breast cancer that has metastasized to the bone to continue as “stable” in my healthy body living with cancer. I will continue to take my many supplements. I am so very blessed.”

I suggested she see a well-known hypnotherapist, who was an RN and Healing Touch Practitioner. She could help her with her fear and anxiety about her new life without chemo. Reluctantly Theresa agreed. When I came to pick her up from the Healing Touch Therapist, she gave me a big hug, thanked me, and said the therapist told her she was going to be writing a book! I often asked her about the book she was going to write.  She always said she had not started it yet.

An excerpt from my book——More to follow.