Despite the challenges she faced, Houstonian Linda VandeGarde made the decision to focus on the bright side this year.
In January, on her birthday, Linda had a mammogram that revealed invasive ductal carcinoma in her left breast. Then, less than a month later, her mother passed away.
That's when Linda made the choice to be positive, no matter what. Early in her breast cancer treatment, following the advice of a book on breast cancer, she began keeping a journal and resolved to write about two silver linings she found each day -- a promise she's managed to keep.
"There were some days that were dark," she says, "but then I'd find little things, like a sparrow I saw or the church bells ringing." Here are some of the silver linings Linda found during breast cancer treatment:
- Her care team in the Multi Team Clinic. As a Houstonian, Linda didn't have to travel far to come to MD Anderson, and she felt at home here as soon as she met her care team in the Nellie B. Connally Breast Center's Multi Team Clinic. She now calls them "the dream team." "I just felt I could completely trust them and leave everything in their hands," she says. "You really come to rely on them for support."
- Her treatment plan. During her first visit to the Multi Team Clinic, Linda met her breast medical oncologist, her surgical oncologist and her plastic surgeon all the same time. The three doctors gave her a treatment plan that same day: a lumpectomy, chemotherapy and radiation treatment. Knowing what would happen next allowed Linda to return home from her first appointment with her mind at ease.
- The little touches MD Anderson provided. Linda loved all of the ways that MD Anderson tried to make her experience a little easier. That included everything from the private chemotherapy infusion rooms to the thoughtful nurses and other care providers who brought her lunch when her appointments ran long and offered extra blankets during chemotherapy.
- Her friends. Linda's friends showed their support and even bought her an ebook reader to help pass the time during treatment.
- Books. Linda found other positive voices in the books she read on coping with cancer as well as television shows that focused on good news. Their stories gave her hope and helped her stay positive.
- The lessons she learned. During her cancer journey, Linda learned to be patient and to let others take care of her, but above all, she learned to see the silver linings not just in the day-to-day, but in her whole cancer journey.