LISA: Continued from page 1 “I scheduled chemo on Thursday afternoon, then took off Friday from work and had the weekend to recover,” Lisa said. On Monday, she’d be back to work. Lisa’s not a workaholic, but she is a dedicated employee and loves what she does. During her treatment, her work provided a semblance of order and routine, and she had close friends — Amy Garcia and Willa McManmon — who supported her. “We call ourselves the three chicks,” Lisa said. Lisa admits she called the two colleagues before her family to share her diagnosis. “I wasn’t comfortable telling my family on the phone,” Lisa said, noting that her dad had died two years earlier. “It was just a lot.” Losing her identity When I first met Lisa six years ago, she struck me as a confident, intelligent woman with a laugh and smile that makes people gravitate toward her. Her identity has been shaped by her family, her work and her hair. Lisa’s not vain, but she loves her hair and, rightfully should. Whenever the family gets together I can’t help but notice how lush, blonde and full of life it is. It’s a good reflection of her personality. Upon beginning treatment, Lisa’s oncologist warned her that around day nine or 10 after chemotherapy began, her hair would begin to fall out. “That was hard,” Lisa said. “I didn’t think I could deal with that.” So, to take control, Lisa made an ap-
“I decided early on that ‘woe is me’ pointment with her hairdresser. First, wasn’t going to do much for me,” Lisa she got her hair cut short and had a wig said. “I needed to be strong for myself made. She made a follow up appointand for my family.” ment to have her hair shaved off, once Strength under duress is one of Lisa’s chemotherapy started. defining attributes and is likely one in“The appointment was probably day nine of chemo,” Lisa said. “Sure enough, stilled in her growing up. The Cadwalader clan is compassionate, raised to that morning when I was in the shower love, be kind and care for family uncongetting ready, a large clump came out.” ditionally. After she shaved her head, she wore a When she did eventually tell her famwig to work in an attempt to feel more ily about her diagnosis, they reacted the like herself. At home, with friends and way the Cadwaladers do: They went all family, she’d let herself be bald or under in, supporting a scarf, if she was Lisa every way cold. she needed. After I know I have my friends, “Mom came to chemotherapy, family, community and prayer chemotherapy when her hair with me every began growing to get me through anything. time,” Lisa said. back, she didn’t “She’d cook recognize herself. healthy food for “Chemotherapy me and stay with me.” gets over, right? And you eventually As she regained her strength, Lisa start to see this peach fuzz starting to also found solace in friends and family, grow,” Lisa, who has dyed her hair spending time with family and friends in blonde her whole life, said. “But it came one of her favorite places: Sea Ranch. in as this salt and pepper afro. It grew in Sea Ranch has been a home away kinky and brunette. It was a shock to the from home for the Cadwalader family system, to not recognize myself in the since Lisa and her two sisters, Lynn mirror. I didn’t feel like myself. I tried, Cadwalader and Sara Windsor, were litbut the longer it got, the less I felt like tle girls. They’d come up the coast with myself.” other families, spending holidays and With a lost sense of identity, it was summer vacations in the coastal comeasy to feel down. “We’re big criers in munity. this family,” Lisa said. “There were a “Its just absolutely peaceful there,” couple of times I just let it all out. Lisa said. “It’s relaxing, restful and a Finding support place to get rid of any stress.” Yet, she didn’t let herself drown in She also got support from furry sorrow.
friends, both alive and stuffed. Lisa’s cat Charlie, who was by her side for 18 years, snuggled up on Lisa’s stomach, right beneath her chest, when she came home after work or therapy to rest on the couch. “She wouldn’t leave my side. I’d come up, lay on the couch and she’d lay on me,” Lisa said. Then there was chemo bunny. “Alma (Lynn’s daughter) gave me this (stuffed) bunny to take with me when I went to chemotherapy,” Lisa said. “And sure enough, he went with me every time.” Hopeful for the future It’s been 12 years since Lisa was diagnosed with breast cancer. With each passing year she gets a little less anxious about her yearly mammogram, but still holds her breath for a moment. To this day, Lisa isn’t sure why she had the experience she had. She doesn’t know why her body became susceptible, since breast cancer doesn’t run in the family. “I smoked in college and early on in my years in Silicon Valley and sometimes I think that’s what did it,” she said. “I do regret that.” But Lisa isn’t one to dwell on the past; she’s always looking forward with hope. “Deep down, I don’t think it’s going to come back,” Lisa said. “And I have the peace of mind that if it does, I’ll deal with it. I’ve been through it before and I know I have my friends, family, community and prayer to get me through anything. I’m just going to keep living my life in a way that makes me happy.”