Rhode Island Monthly Breast Health 2013 : Page 3

SPE CIAL AD VER TISING SE C TION Talk It Out: The “D” Word The conversation you need to have with your loved ones. by Carol Ann Donnelly t is inevitable. It is a part of the life cycle, and every living thing will eventually yield to it. There is no escaping it, and many of us fear it. We refuse to talk about it, but at some point we all will have to face it. ‘It’ is death. We hope to live long healthy lives and hope that when it is our time, we go peacefully in our sleep. But life doesn’t always work out the way we hope — sometimes it throws us a curve ball. Sometimes an illness, like cancer, cuts life short. That’s what happened to Donna Ge-nereux, who granted my request to interview her, knowing she would not be alive to see this BEFORE HER DEATH in 2012, story in print. Donna Genereux’s family knew her last wishes. Genereux was diagnosed with two stage IV primary cancers (breast and lung) in January 2008. She spent the next two want people to mourn over the years years in treatment , which they weren’t going to spend with her. included long rounds of chemo-She wanted people to celebrate the therapy, surgery and radiation. time they did have with her. By all accounts she had been to “I’ve stayed strong through my hell and back, but her faith and whole journey. I need to keep every-but her faith and upbeat upbeat disposition never wa-body strong,” Genereux said. vered. Her doctors called her a That was how she wanted it. disposition never wavered. miracle because she had done Genereux took control, making her what few people with her initial own inal arrangements and direct-diagnosis could have done: She ing family members on what she survived. There were a couple wanted them to wear to her funeral. of incidents over the next two years when tumors were found, She talked about her death and made her wishes known so but they were treated with either chemo or radiation, and they her family wasn’t forced to make decisions and assume what never stopped Genereux from living her life. she would have wanted. It was a routine PET scan in July 2012 that revealed the can-She even made the decision to go into hospice. A few days cer was back with a vengeance. It was in her lungs, and it had later, in the early morning hours of September 20, 2012, spread to her liver and bones. The cancer was everywhere, and Genereux took her last breath surrounded by her family — just there was nothing more doctors could do. That prognosis put the way she wanted. Genereux on what she called her “inal journey.” Shakay J. Kizirian, MSW, LCSW, for Home and Hospice Care A happy, positive person by nature, she always wore a smile of Rhode Island, says she hears most often, “If only I had known.” and had a great sense of humor. In fact, when I entered her She’s talking about the misconception people have about apartment to interview her, Genereux was lounging in her hospice care. Although hospice is for any terminal diagnosis recliner wearing a tiara, giant pink carnival sunglasses and a with a life expectancy of six months or less, most people don’t big grin. She looked absolutely ridiculous, and I couldn’t help understand that hospice is there for the family as much as it is The “D” Word continued on page 120 » but laugh. That was her intent — to make me laugh. She didn’t Photo by Judi Sherwood, Judith’s Point Photography I She had been to hell and back , 114 RHODE ISLAND MONTHLY l OCTOBER 2013

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