Managing Cancer as a Project
Editor's Note: Tracy Crossley has been interviewing cancer survivors for EIF Revlon Run Walk for Women and is sharing some of the insights she's garnered with Westside Today readers. We hope that you find these stories of interest and encouragement.
By Tracy Crossley | March 07, 2013
Cancer Warrior Linda Linham and her family
Originally from the East Coast, Linda Linham is a married, 46 year old wife and mother who lives in Westwood and works alongside her husband developing real estate.
An oenophile and trained sommelier, Linham teaches wine classes and fills wine cellars for her clients; wine has always been a part of her life. When Linda was diagnosed with breast cancer in September 2012, she learned she might have to leave her love of wine behind.
Her immediate response was to educate herself. She compartmentalized the diagnosis, made lists, and approached it like a project spending the next two weeks absorbing information from the web and other sources. She didn’t really eat or sleep. Linham poured over research blogs, found stories to combat feeling isolated and focused on what would give her control of her condition. Through her businesses, she knew a few M.D.’s, Oncologists and Pathologists, so she reached out to them, to learn more about cancer. She learned quickly that in healthcare, you have to do it yourself.
Linham's cancer is Invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC) in her left breast. Linham had a lump for two years prior to her cancer diagnosis. Her mammogram pointed this out twice, but she was told it was nothing, because she had dense cystic breasts. When she went for the 3rd time, the doctor said the lump had changed. She had a mastectomy as part of her treatment, when they did the pathology—Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) was found, nothing had picked it up previously.
Linham sees cancer as an alien in her body that she is kicking out. She believes through her journey, the medical establishment could learn something. She urges women like her with lumpy cystic breasts; to ask for the ABUS ultrasound (www.somoinsightstudy.org
). It will make a difference in the diagnosis of breast cancer.
Linham refuses to dwell on the question, “Why me?” it sucks the joy out of your life and as her husband pointed out, she always took care of herself, followed a wholesome diet and exercised regularly so the question is unanswerable. Linham has participated in the EIF Revlon Run/Walk for Women (www.revlonrunwalk.org
) for the past 4 years. This event is solely focused on combatting women’s cancers. This year it’s become her fitness goal along with the hopes of raising funds for more research, treatment and support. She plans to walk on a team with her 11-year-old daughter and other members of her family.
To those recently diagnosed, Linham advises; be thorough in educating yourself; know all the options, do your research and make a decision. Doctors will make recommendations, but will only warn you, if you’re making a bad choice. This brings Linham to the hardest part of her diagnosis; she has always loved wine, but was never an over-indulger and now she may not be able to drink it again. Recent studies show conflicting information about how alcohol may contribute to the growth of breast cancer, so Linham is waiting for more information to decide her future with wine.
Linham believes maintaining a positive attitude, even with the stress and anxiety of cancer, is important. Find support, but stay away from depressing materials and programs that are not upbeat. Linham’s breast surgeon gave her the best advice when she was diagnosed, “This is taking up all of your life right now, but I promise you, when you look back, in a year or two at how short a time it actually was you will be a stronger person for getting through it.”
Crossley and Westside Today wish all those battling cancer success.
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