June 11, 2009

Eslingers face cancer survival rollercoaster

By Brenda L. Shelkey

Cancer doesn’t just happen to the patient. It happens to the whole family. It is one of the first things that Diane and Allan Eslinger’s family learned in September of 2007 when Diane was diagnosed with breast cancer. Eslinger had her yearly mammogram in July when they found a cyst and she was told they would keep an eye on it. In September, when she was experiencing numbness, the doctor decided to go in and take a look even though a biopsy of the lump came back negative. The results showed that a cancerous tumor was hiding behind the benign tumor that showed on the mammogram. Her tumor diagnosis was the type in which mutant cells grow fast and separate and can go into the lymph nodes. Eslinger is a nurse who has worked in home health hospice care. She honestly admitted that she never imagined something like this could happen to her. She said, "I had patients who were diagnosed with cancer. I kind of thought that I had a ‘Get Out of Jail FREE’ card. I never imagined I would be in this position." By February, she had a mastectomy and was scheduled for six months of chemotherapy. The first chemotherapy session was done in a private room and in her words, "wasn’t bad at all." The session was one-on-one as the nurses explained what Eslinger and her family could expect in the coming weeks. And sure enough, two weeks after the first session, her hair began to fall out in clumps as she was getting ready for session two. Later in the week, the couple took matters into their own hands, going out to Allan’s farm shop to deal with the hair loss. "We had a private session in the shop where Allan shaved my head," said Eslinger. "Hunks of hair were coming out and we decided to get it over with." They didn’t want to do it in front of their three children.

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