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Celebrating little victories
By Ruth Gesmer Silverman | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 5/5/2008 12:19 AM

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My neuropathy demanded recognition. Its onset was sudden and dramatic -- a collapse to the floor of my house.

In the weeks since then, I've been learning to get back on my feet.

I'm still getting used to the idea that I can't walk and I generally plan my weekdays around a schedule of physical and occupational therapy.

I'm told that this nerve damage, a side effect of my breast cancer and its treatment, can take many months to resolve. There was great celebration when I could tap my feet while seated. Now that I can turn over in bed, I share all my dark-chocolate gifts with my therapists.

My doctor tells me the cancer is "under control" and a proliferation of new meds might just keep it that way. Meanwhile, I look for spring beauty outside the windows of what used to be called a "nursing home."

Nursing homes were for people who disappeared. I have not.

The daily physical therapy and occupational therapy are highlights because I can see concrete results and celebrate each small victory. Just standing unsupported beside my bed proved I still had some control over simple activities.

Walking for the first time across a room, while wearing a belt securely held by a therapist, reinforced that idea.

I look forward to my almost-weekly trips to Glenbrook Hospital in Glenview, armed with a turkey sandwich packed by the dining room staff where I'm staying. At Glenbrook, I wait for the blood counts that will tell me I'm not anemic so I can have another chemotherapy infusion, this time of the drug Abraxane.

This balancing act is still too new to evaluate, but seems promising.

The improvement in movement could be attributed to the new chemo combinations or the physical and occupational therapy.

Or maybe it's the turkey sandwiches.