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My Journey Through Cancer @Walgreens #Walgreens #ad

This post is brought to you by Walgreens and SheKnows Media. The thoughts and opinions, and yes, the story of my journey are 100% my own.

I am the face of cancer- Cyclic Lymphomic Myelodysplasia (in other words I have weird blood). It’s not something I talk about and it’s certainly not something I dwell on because it doesn’t define me. It’s just a part of me just as brown hair and being a mom to 5 and I am not alone.Christmas-Turner

It started with an exhaustion that just would not go away. An exhaustion that even when you stayed in bed an entire weekend you still felt like you could not move another step. There was the general feeling of something not being right. Maybe it was the flu, maybe it was the bug that was going around the classroom, or maybe it was just that fact that you were raising three kids on your own, working two jobs, and trying to be that “perfect Pinterest mom” (long before there was even Pinterest much less social media) or hundreds of other reasons that would explain it all away, except it never went away.  And then finally one day, it was 11:00 at night, I found myself at the Laundromat trying to catch up on the piles of wash I had neglected over the last few weeks and got to the point where I finally had to throw in the towel. I threw the white flag, called the doctor who suggested “Let’s just get some blood work tonight, give you a night of someone else taking care of you and it’s probably in all likelihood just you doing too much but let’s just check…”

The next few days were a blur. One blood test led to concerned looks which led to other tests which led to scans and more concerned looks and somehow I went from a quick trip to the emergency room for just a few blood tests to no one really telling me what was going on other than they were “concerned” to those grave, serious looks where they don’t quite know what to say, and suddenly you find yourself a guest in the hospital and being put in “that room”- the one with the old faded wallpaper, and the quilts which had comforted countless souls before you and a rocking chair and a window with a spectacular view and that’s when it hits you “This is the room where they put the people they think are going to die!”  Now looking back, I know that they meant well putting me in “that room”-the one that was supposed to make you forget not only that you were in the hospital, but why you were there and your mind starts working double and triple time formulating your escape plan because you had to get home.  There was no time in your life for this and you still had a lot of living to do and it was certainly not going to be lived out in the room with the bad wallpaper.  Over the course of the next weeks, and the care of the best medical team ever, my counts were back up enough where there was an outside chance of breaking free of the room with the rocking chair and the view and returning to the chaos that was my life but only if I had a support system in place and that started with my neighborhood Walgreens.  

Most people know Walgreens as the pharmacy that has everything you need and a little bit more.  Need to pick up a prescription? Need a gift for a teacher? Last minute groceries, items for the house? Walgreens has got what you need but for me what I needed was a partner to support me being at home with my family and still have the care and support that I needed and thanks to the Walgreens Specialty Pharmacy which supported me far beyond just making sure I had the medication I needed. I learned that Walgreens offers elevated pharmacist care at cancer specialized pharmacies. They shared with me that these pharmacists have completed additional training specific to cancer that aid them in their ability to offer trusted support to cancer patients. I discovered that most Walgreens have in-aisle solutions that may quickly help to address side effects associated with cancer treatments. But more importantly, it was reassuring to discover that the pharmacists at Walgreens are trained to know the side effects of these cancer medications, and they helped prepare me for these side effects and helped me manage them.  For a single mom who was living paycheck to paycheck and working two jobs, Walgreens was there to help me find a way to better afford the medications I needed and help lower my medication co-pays. At one point, Walgreens even helped me fill out insurance paperwork.

Most importantly, they were there to listen to not just me, but to my family to help see us all through this journey because at the end of the day, cancer doesn’t just affect you but everyone in your life.

The years have come and gone since those days, and yes I made it through that fork in the road in my journey of life and thanks to a great doctor who listened when I called all too late one Saturday night, an incredible hospital care team who knew the importance of not condemning me to “that special room,” the support of the Walgreens Specialty Pharmacy Care Team and most importantly, to my kids and family who are my reason for everything. I am here today and will be tomorrow and for many more tomorrows to come.

Cancer isn’t who I am, it’s just a little detour I happened to take along this journey called life and I am stronger for it today.