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Hope, Faith, Belief and Support (The Spirit Side of Humans) Part VI

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How important it is for me to stay positive and upbeat? Very. I need to meet with the radiation doctor. On June 6, 2014 I met with the doctor and he explained to me the process that I would be going through and would have 14 days of treatment. The nurse and technician showed me the room and the radiation machine. They also explained how a mask would be made for me and that this mask would be placed over my face and snapped unto the table so that I do not move while my brain was being radiated. They asked me if I was claustrophobic and I said no. It was important for me to lie still for up to 20 minutes while they stretched this plastic over my face to form a mask. This was the first step prior to having the radiation treatments. The plastic was now over my face with just enough of a whole under my nose so that I could breathe. I could not see and my mouth was closed fairly tight. After a short period of time, I started to panic and wanted to get this mask off of me. The nurse came by side and talked me through it because I would have to start all over again if they took if off right away. I never thought that I was claustrophobic until that very moment; this was a feeling that I have not experienced in my life. Now they would allow the materials to harden and the mask would be ready for my first treatment next week.

From June 12 – July 2, I had a treatment each day and had the weekends off. Now, the treatment itself was not an issue, but having the mask on took away my breath. It took me a few days to talk myself into this process. The treatments did not take long and was roughly about 10 minutes. During this time, I started to lose my hair, so on July 2, I went to my barber and had her shave my heard. Over the course of the month, I started losing my facial hair so I shaved off my beard as well.   I had six people at work that asked to shave their heads in support of my cause. That was absolutely amazing to see! The support I have at work is incredible. I do my best to keep my health as transparent as possible and the staff appreciates it.

After I was done with my radiation treatment, my skin on my forehead started breaking out with side effects like having a bad sun burn. The doctor told me that I was having a really bad negative reaction to the radiation treatment. As we discussed what may have caused this, he believed it was the oral medication that I was taking because as a warning it stipulates to stay out of direct sunlight. Radiation treatment is like putting yourself right in front of the sun. He prescribed a cream that is used for burn victims which I applied 2 to 3 times a day. My skin was bubbling and raw and rather painful to take care of.  

On August 1 I had a meeting and exam with my Oncologist. He said that my blood work was excellent and wanted to start working on my lung now, which means the beginning of chemo therapy sessions. My first session was to be on August 12. I was to receive a full dose once every three weeks. After I had my initial treatment, I found that within a couple of days I was feeling down and out, not hungry, or even thirsty. It was difficult to do anything because my mind and body just did not want to cooperate. My wife called the doctor on the 19th to let him know that I was not doing really well. He spoke with me and scheduled an appointment to see him the next day. It was at that time seven days since my treatment and I had to hold on to furniture as I walked. I felt like I was going to fall if I wasn’t careful. When I went to the lab, they looked at me and retrieve a wheelchair for me. As soon as the doctor saw me he said I was going to be admitted to the hospital and would be there for a couple of days. My blood work showed that my white blood cell count was down fairly low. This chemo treatment did not work so well for me.

I was transported by ambulance to the hospital and found that I would stay not just a couple of days but for eight days. Each day that I was there felt like I was not improving, but the medication given to me got my blood counts back up to where it belonged and I was discharged on the 27th. I was still struggling with the same symptoms, but it was good to be back home. For a few weeks I needed a walker to help me along. The doctor gave me a few weeks off and gave me a different type of chemo medication and reduced the amount I received. This new regimen started on September 16 and would proceed for once a week for three weeks and then I would have a week off. That cycle was to continue until further notice.

I stayed out of work for approximately four months. I am so thankful that I have a board of directors, senior team leaders and staff supporting me through this difficult time in my life. I lost 30 – 40 lbs. because I was still not eating or drinking much. The doctor told me to eat and drink whatever I could and as frequently as possible. Everything I tried to eat and drink had this metallic taste in my mouth and made it difficult for me to swallow anything. I sat around the house not doing anything; I did not feel like watching television, listening to the radio, or reading. I was just doing nothing. I found myself sleeping a lot during this time and having chocolate ice cream seemed to go down smoothly.   Also, protein shakes worked for me as well.

On November 5 & 6, I had a CT scan and a head MRI. The good news is the radiation treatments worked and my brain lesions were no longer noticeable and the mass in my lung was starting to shrink. So now we needed to see if the chemo treatments I was receiving continued to shrink the mass in my lung. I continued my treatments through the end of the year.

It was time for me to get to work, so I planned on going back to the office as of December 1, even if I could only work part-time. I found that I could be in the office 25 – 30 hours a week and I was finally starting to regain some of my strength back. I was finally eating once I started taking an appetite stimulant.  

Hope is always there if we look for it. I just needed to realize that I hit a bump in the road and now it was time for me to pick myself back up and keep moving forward with a positive attitude.

"Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today."

Thich Nhat Hanh

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Normand Dubreuil
Maine State Credit Union
President and Chief Executive Officer

Normand Dubreuil was the President and CEO of Maine State Credit Union. He has two professional designations; CCUE - Certified Credit Union Executive and CCE -Certified Chief Executive. He's was with MSCU from 1985 - 2016 and worked in the credit union industry since 1977. His educational background is Accounting and Business Administration. He worked with the credit union's philanthropic cause, Maine Credit Unions Campaign for Ending Hunger. He served as a board member for the credit union's state trade association and was also the chairman of their Technology Services Committee. Normand also serves in his church in various leadership roles. He is married, has four children and twelve grandchildren.

After being diagnosed in 2013 with stage IV lung cancer he decided he wanted to be an advocate for the cause in providing hope, encouragement and inspiration to other lung cancer survivors and families. Being involved with a lung cancer organization has provided him the opportunity to reach out to others, touch lives and assist those with needs. In some small way he is hoping to give of himself in order to help others achieve their goals. He served as a board member for Free ME from Lung Cancer foundation.



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