A Survivor's Tale

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Published on: Mar. 2, 2004

Last revision: Nov. 16, 2010

On March 24, 1999, I was diagnosed with Stage II breast cancer. It was the day before my 31st birthday. Some birthday present, huh? I lived in New Orleans at the time, far from all of my family who live in Missouri and Illinois. My family and my husband's family took turns coming to New Orleans to take care of me and help with our two little boys, who were then 6 and 3. We all became closer as a result of my illness. Over a period of six months, I received eight rounds of chemotherapy, followed by 35 sessions of radiation. I am proud to say I am now a 5-year survivor.

During my battle, something clicked between my father and me. We both understood that we only have a short time on earth, and we wanted to spend more of it together. When I was getting one of my treatments, I mentioned to my dad that I would like to go hunting with him sometime. He was surprised, but excited. He talked about turkey hunting and described its challenges. I was interested and suggested going with him on his next hunt.

Without hesitation, he said yes and flew me up a few months later for the 2000 spring season. I enjoyed the looks on my N'awlins friends' faces when I told them that I was going turkey hunting. Being a self-proclaimed "city girl," I don't fit the description of a typical turkey hunter. I like living in the suburbs where a shopping mall, movie theatre and great food are only minutes away from home. This was a real departure from my normal life.

My father had scouted a few locations and was confident we would find turkeys on his friend's property. For three days we heard birds gobble, but we were unable to bring them in close enough. Of course, my inability to sit still probably kept them away.

In my defense, I was cold and tired, and I wasn't used to being so quiet. I also was still trying to get my strength back because chemotherapy had done a number on my stamina. In fact, I spent a few hours each morning sleeping with my head on my dad's seat cushion. Dad just stroked my head while I slept. Veteran hunters would probably call that season unsuccessful, but for my father and me, it was just the opposite.

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