The continuing journey of a 4-year cancer survivor; if you have not read my previous articles you may want to read the beginning of my story.
This is the link to the first of the previous contributions: https://www.prioritylearningresearch.com/articles/hope_faith_belief_support
Hello everyone; it is great being back from my roller coaster ride in 2016. My hopes and prayers are that 2017 will be a year of healing. Allow me to tell you what my writings will be about. Seizure, short term memory loss, fatigue, muscle atrophy, not eating or drinking much and why, losses, treatments, double hernias, not able to travel, gout, and pulmonary embolism. The lessons that I am learning and the trials of my faith; what is it about life that I want to live so much? So much for the golden years!
At the end of January and beginning of February I was at a conference in Maui, Hawaii and feeling pretty good. Not a bad place to be in the winter. Shortly after returning home on February 16, 2016 I had a seizure at the office and 911 was called. I was taken to the hospital immediately and I cannot remember anything. I do not remember being in the ambulance and brought to the hospital. Everyone tells me that I did not miss anything and probably good that I do not remember. This was my first ride in an ambulance and I missed it. This is also my first experience with losing time and what transpired.
My family members tell me that once I was settled in the hospital that every few minutes I would ask what am I doing here, where are my clothes, what is going on. The family tells me that I repeated this over and over while they were present. To this day I have no recollection of that day and several weeks after. I literally lost the first part of the year and it will never be restored.
I have never experienced losing time and not knowing what happened to me. I can only go on what others tell me including family members. This is a new experience and feels really strange and awkward. To this day I cannot remember who came to the hospital to see me and what happened to me. All I know is since I had this seizure I have not been myself. More medication, fatigued and other issues that come up that I have to deal with. This is a big setback for me because 2015 I was doing great and functioning like I was not ill at all. This seizure has weakened and affected me more than my cancer.
I now take a medication called Keppra (anti-seizure medicine).This has a negative side effect of being fatigued and in this process I had muscle atrophy. Today I am still trying to regain my strength back and be the individual I was in 2015; in full control of all my faculties.
Since I am not able to remember what happened to me when I had my seizure on February 16, 2016 I've asked Deb Sparrow, SVP and Chief Lending Officer of Maine State Credit Union and to say the least a good friend, to write my opening because I was in her office when this happened. This is through her lenses.
At this time in 2016, our organization was experiencing a CEO transition. After many years serving the credit union and a challenging battle with cancer beginning in 2013, my friend and leader, Normand Dubreuil, was closing in on retirement. We were all excited for Normand, but concerned at the same time. His cancer treatments had left him weakened physically and often very ill. As he did his best to assist in the transition, he was wearing himself down.
Normand had just returned from a conference with our board chairman and incoming CEO when he stopped by my office one day in mid-February last year. I hadn't seen him for a few weeks. We had been in the habit of talking regularly, discussing our credit union's cultural work, the people challenges, and the work ahead, so I was very glad to see him.
As he walked through my door he had to dodge workers on ladders who were poking at the ceiling tiles, sending dust and debris raining down as they worked to repair some malfunction with the HVAC system. Fortunately, in my office, I have two sets of chairs and Normand was able to sit in the comfortable chairs closest to my desk so that the HVAC work could continue. This was actually beneficial, as one of the effects of the cancer treatments for Norm was a raspy, sometimes whispering voice that could be difficult to hear.
As Norm and I began to chat, he said that he had something important to tell me. I listened carefully, with some struggle, as the chaotic scene around us unfolded. It was a little difficult to concentrate on his words with the worker's legs emerging for the ceiling, the ladders both inside and outside my office, and the noise of power tools overwhelming our conversation.
At first, I thought it was the noise around us that kept me from hearing him clearly. We talked about how he was feeling, and that he probably should take some time off to rest. I had to ask him to repeat himself a couple of times. Then his behavior changed, very subtly but quickly. He was very insistent that I hear his message, and uncharacteristic for Normand, seemed frustrated that I was not understanding. If you know Normand, the man literally has the patience of Job.
I told him repeatedly that his words were not making much sense. I asked if he was feeling okay. He looked at me quizzically, took a deep breath, and tried again. Now his speech had turned garbled and something was clearly wrong. He was not sensing it and did not understand my alarm. I was concerned for his life, honestly. I told him that I thought he might be having a stroke and that I needed to get help at once. He continued to try to talk to me and I could understand very little.
Thanks to our fellow employees, we were able to get emergency medical care to the credit union almost immediately. Normand was in capable hands, but he did not want to be! He thought he was fine. He kept asking what the fuss was all about as they checked his vital signs and prepared to transport him to the hospital.
As it turns out, Normand was not experiencing a stroke but a seizure. His next few months were challenging as he recovered, but with his usual determination, he did officially retire and recover.
I never did find out that important thing that he wanted to tell me, but knowing Normand, I'm fairly certain that it was a message of appreciation and gratitude for our friendship and the work that we had done together.
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.