Got Cancer? How a Sledge Hammer Can Help

I underwent another PET Scan this week. Once again it was time to face the music. I just finished my third round of an eight-week course of chemo. Us cancer patients always face our fears before getting into any one of many machines that scan various parts of our body, but I approach this scan with more trepidation. Because of the redness and the bleeding of my hands and feet, the doctor decided to lower the dose which seemed like a Godsend at the time. Lowering the dose did make a huge difference in lessening the pain, but now I am thinking at what cost?

What if this lesser dose allows the lesions to grow? I should have toughed it out. Am I a wuss? Am I just plain stupid? Guess the answer to both questions will come Friday with the results of the scan.

I went to Cleveland this past week to visit my parents and to escape my cancer. Diversion is a very successful coping mechanism for me. I slept in the twin bed that I had slept in my entire childhood, I rested a lot and had some “Zen” time planting a flower garden for my parents. My dad was concerned about some dead limbs on various trees in our yard, and I was concerned about the thick foliage because it was blocking the sun from the garden.

Every now and then I get a “wild hair” and want to accomplish something I have never done before. And of course that something is always something I have no training to do. So off to Home Depot with Dad. We bought one of those extendable tree cutting poles that lops off big branches, and I also decided to buy a huge sledge hammer to demolish a 70- year-old limestone fireplace that had not been used for many years, and was an eye sore in our back yard. Wow, I took every ounce of anger I was holding inside of me and unleashed it on the fireplace.

What a difference a sledge hammer can make in your life – who knew? It took two days, but I demolished that fireplace. It took every ounce of energy to knock through the mortar. I then used the sledge hammer to break the big pieces so that I could create a gorgeous stone border around the garden.

I forgot how humid Cleveland is in the summer. I was soaked in sweat and my back was killing me from all the heavy lifting, but it was a good hurt. Then my crazy Dad and I took our lives into our own hands with the tree limb cutter. There were limbs falling everywhere. We felt so accomplished until half way through when I got a piece of something in my eye, and we realized we never took the protective goggles out of the bag. Oh well, we dodged that bullet.

It was a great week and I escaped cancer for seven days. I recommend that at least every six months, we get a change of venue. Changing the environment can do wonders for your soul.

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Noreen Fraser is living with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer. She is co-founder of STAND UP TO CANCER and co-produced the TV show, which raised 100 million dollars for cancer research. Noreen went on to create the Noreen Fraser Foundation to raise money and awareness for women's cancer research. The 'Men for Women Now' program enlists men to ask the women they love to make appointments for their mammogram and pap smear. Noreen can be reached at