This news turned into an emotional time for the Sims family. Her daughter was a senior in high school, and Connie had been busy working. She knew this wouldn't be an easy haul, but Connie stayed strong. This was just a "speed bump" in the road.
Connie and her husband, Bob researched treatments and options online to make sure the next steps would be right for her body. Many others online had taken a holistic approach, but Connie decided to go with her doctor's approach for treating the cancer. She believed in the notion that "it's my body", and she would make the decisions that were best for her.
Connie was fortunate to have lived close to the Cleveland Clinic in Ashtabula with some of the best oncologists in the country. Soon they discovered that only a few lymph nodes had been infected. These would be removed through a new treatment called sentinel node biopsy in order to avoid radical mastectomy. The next step from her doctor's point of view was chemotherapy since the lymph nodes had been involved. In April 2004, she began chemotherapy treatments and fulfilled those treatments to the end of June 2004.
We asked about obstacles during her treatments. She recalled one specific treatment that was so new that the doctors were concerned about specific side effects. During the treatment, she was closely monitored while sitting in a chair, which made her very nervous because they wanted to "watch" to be sure the side effects would not occur. Once the treatment was over, it was a big relief. The initial anticipation of not knowing what would happen was scary.
Even though Connie missed work and school events with her daughter during that year, she was fortunate that her family and employer were extremely understanding and supportive. At one point, the "Live Like You Were Dying" song by Tim McGraw had been released on the radio, and Connie remembered thinking she didn't want to feel like she was dying. It was a possibility, but Connie wanted to stay positive and take each hurdle one day at a time.
For nine years Connie Sims lived breast cancer free, but the winter of 2013 brought on new challenges. After an initial visit to Urgent Care and then the hospital for further testing, Connie Sims was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer; several brain tumors had been found. A brain surgeon recommended a radiation Gamma Knife procedure followed by chemotherapy.
During this time, Connie did not let this get her down. She believes in the "get out there and do what you feel good about doing". Bob and Connie knew their plans had changed for traveling in the travel trailer, and a larger fifth wheel seemed ideal for their full-time lifestyle. It came with the latest features, more space, and felt like a home. Plus, it was nicer than having a huge house to manage. The Sims could pick up and go when they felt it was convenient for them. So they made a trip to Cincinnati, Ohio to Holman Motors and purchased their Bighorn.
For the Sims, their Bighorn purchase was an ideal choice. It provides a comfortable atmosphere for Connie to rest after her treatments and a great place to relax while watching TV. Bob and Connie also joined the Heartland Owners Club and continue to be active members as the Ohio Chapter leaders.
Today Connie is staying positive while undergoing her current chemotherapy treatments. Bob and Connie continue to spend warm summers in Ohio and snowbirding to Texas for the winter. When I spoke with her, she was looking forward to a concert that weekend. She said, "It's the little things in life that I look forward to."
She also wanted to point out that her medical insurance through Progressive has been very convenient through her treatments between both states. Today there are medical insurance options available that follow the person rather than a person's residency, which is ideal for full-time RVing. Many RVers are concerned about transferring medical insurance, but Connie stated it hasn't been a problem.
Her advice to other women diagnosed with breast cancer is to definitely "stay positive and ask questions". She said it's important to not take the doctor's word as your only choice. Also, the internet greatly helped her and the Sims family to better understand the drugs and treatments available for breast cancer. At the end of the day, you can ask questions, your doctor can advise, but it's your body. You are ultimately the one who gets to decide the steps that will be taken.