On Sept 23, 1994 Mom had a Mammogram which prompted her doctor to order a biopsy for her left side on 9/27. Then they decided to also biopsy her right side on October 4. The determination was that she had cancer in both breasts so on October 11 she had a double mastectomy. Six days later she came home from the hospital and began writing all of this in her journal.
She recorded the names of EVERYONE who visited her both in the hospital and at home with a note of what they brought, mostly the food! According to her journal she had 76 visitors, received 135 cards and 11 vases of flowers.
Her journal entry for May 30, 1996 is a testament to how she has survived almost eighteen years following breast cancer. I feel certain she was still celebrating her and Dad's wedding anniversary even though he had been gone almost 5 years. And, although she doesn't mention her surgery specifically it was obviously still a very present reality for her. Her words are also a testament to the lasting value of love, family and faith. She gave this the title - "OUR LOVING FAMILY"
"From the time our children were born, we never stopped caring or being concerned for their well-being. The older they grow we want all our dear loving family to be happy and well. We could never stop being concerned for them no matter where they are in the whole world. We never stop caring or taking them to God in prayer. I call all of them by name, afraid I will forget their names. I thank God I can still do that. They are our dear loving children until I'm gone to meet their sweet Dad, Harold Thomas Sutherland.
We have tried to give our family a knowledge of the GOOD LIFE, to make their own decisions about what is right and wrong. In our young years of marriage we had hoped and prayed for this even though we didn't understand it all until our senior years.
I'm very sure God has known our hearts from the beginning of our tender years of marriage because our life has been rich in love and devotion. We both learned that from our parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. Harold told me many times how his Dad and Mom taught him to work hard to survive. He did just that all his beautiful life. The best thing that happened to us was when we were married and had our family. They are our life, completely. We have tried to make every one in our loving family know heaven is our goal through faith in God, every day living and learning to be a genuine, whole person in Jesus Christ, following His example. A life of happiness and contentment is in store for all of us and the whole world."
On March 3, 2000 she wrote - "Into my fifth year since the DOUBLE WHAMMY and doing fine. Haven't seen a doctor in two years. Feeling really well and happy to be going about my business and taking care of myself."
In September of 2006 I came to spend a week with Mom. She had always been a very strong, decisive person and a leader in every way. During that visit I saw how the Alzheimer's was beginning to put her in real danger so I called the Rose and told her it was time for us to come. My sister, Phyllecia and her husband Bob and their family had done an outstanding job of assisting Mom as she slowly slid downward into a very different way of life. But she now needed someone living with her. We had talked to her about coming to be with us in Dallas, but that just wasn't an option she wanted to talk about. So, we sold out and moved in with her.
Now we visit her daily in the nursing home and still see and hear the spark that has always made her special. She is loved by all her family and everyone who has known she and Dad over the years. I praise God that we all are around her now in her final days, just as my Dad wanted and had requested of me. HALLELUJAH!