Through the Great Pink Pumpkin event, scholarships are awarded to students affected by breast cancer thanks to the Moraine Park Foundation.
One of these scholarship recipients is Sandra Bryson-Fisher of Waldo, Wisconsin.
This is her story:
My name is Sandra Bryson-Fisher
I am one of 11 children in my family. My mother is still with us, however I lost my father five years ago due to bladder cancer. I have four children and 7 grandchildren. I live with my husband in the country.
When my father became ill, I spent my time traveling back and forth to Illinois to care for him and my mother. When it came to get hospice involved, the decision was made to move his home to a nursing facility/hospice program. I continued to travel back and forth and come home on the weekends.
My father declined rapidly and within four months he passed. We then moved his body to Michigan where we had his funeral and laid him to rest.
You do know my name … ?
I returned home after two weeks of assisting my mother to readjusting to a new life style. It came time for my yearly exam and mammogram. I went to the appointments. Exam went great! Went downstairs for the mammogram, got the x-ray, and then waited in the room for the “all clear” from the nurse that I can get dressed. Once read, if all is well, you will receive a letter in the mail. Well, that didn’t happen. Instead, I was taken into an office where the radiologist informed me I have a mass on my breast wall and I will need to see an oncologist. My exact words were, “You do know my name is Sandra Bryson~Fisher, do you have the right report”?
Of course he did, silly me.
If not for my father
I gathered my thoughts and said, “Who do I call”? Aurora Healthcare has an oncology department and that is where I began. I got in the next day. Confirmation was made, I indeed had breast cancer. It was explained to me that there are several forms of cancer, and once the surgery is completed, biopsy performed, and possibly limp nodes removed, and I will get more details. The doctor wanted me to go and research my options and come back with my decision on how to proceed. It didn’t take me but two seconds to say, “Let’s do lympnodeectomy. Not mastectomy”.
Surgery was schedule and three days later I was in surgery.
Following surgery I completed several weeks of chemo, which after the third week, my body was shutting down.
I can honestly say, I was one sick lady. Seriously thought of stopping, but I knew that my dad would not want me to be a quitter so I carried on. Once chemo was completed, I then had several weeks of radiation.
Cancer patients go through a process much like death! You need a great support group. Mentally and physically you become drained. You lose your sense of identity. Loss of hair, loss of feeling whole, and a loss of purpose, and if your real lucky you will get chemo brain.
I fight this daily.
I know that I would not be here today, if I had not walked the journey with my father. He taught me how to live and be sick with dignity. Not once did he complain. I followed suit.
The beauty in life
I just made my five year mark to remission. It was a long process to getting here. I cannot tell you what it feels like to see the beauty in a different light. I am a HUGH supporter of cancer.
I have completed over 80 hours alone this year to the cause and will continue.
I walk, work, and volunteer for several different caused, vets, diabetes, hearing impaired, to name a few.
Help to Help
I was thrilled getting a scholarship from Moraine Park. After a year into my cancer, I made the decision that I was going to go back to school and assist and help others. My father’s care plan was awful and I wanted to make a difference. So I started school, completed all general education and started working in the healthcare field.
First as a NA, then CNA, and home healthcare, and maintained a full time student. I am one semester away of graduating with my MA and I plan on continuing my education. Receiving this scholarship allowed me to continue my dream.
I will graduate with my MA this December/January. Following graduation, I will complete my practicum, take the AAMA boards and become certified. My goal is to continue on with my education and become a healthcare teacher, promote wellness within our communities, and volunteer in any capacity.