Introduction to the Stortellers
Dawn's Story about Surgery

Mother: Well, welcome home. How did it go?

Dawn: All I got to say is that I'm glad I'm on the Council! Boy - even with my status as a tribal councilmember, you would not believe the paperwork and hassle I've got to go through to get treatment for this cancer.

Mother: But they're going to refer you to the surgeon?

Dawn: Oh yeah, finally. I had to go get the clinic nurse to come back to the CHS officer and remind her than we are compacted and she can be fired at any time. Man, it was really silly. And I feel bad cause there is this big pile of other tribal applicants for referral. We go no money left other than for emergencies. It is still 5 months to the new fiscal year. But I told her I was an emergency and she had to move me up so that I can get this taken care of.

Mother: Good for you. As hard as you work on the Council, there needs to be some reward. So where are they going to send you for the surgery?

Dawn: I've got to go all the way to Los Angeles, California.

Mother: What do you mean? Why do you have to go so far away? We don't have any family in L.A.? Who is going to watch out for you while you're gone? They're just a bunch of urbans, they don't know what you need. Who's gonna take care of me while you're gone? How long will you be gone?

Dawn: This Cancer Center in L.A. is who the tribe contracts with for cancer care, so that's where I got to go. They say that I should pack for at least 2 weeks. They say the surgery won't take that long, but they have to do some more tests before the surgery, and figure out my chemo for after the surgery. They say I'll probably be on my way home in 5 days, but they just want me to be prepared. Also, if I decide to have breast reconstruction, I'll have to stay longer.

Mother: Well, is the tribe paying for your hospital bill?

Dawn: Yes, mom, completely.

Mother: What about for the new boobs?

Dawn: No, but I put in the paperwork to the California Treatment Act. That may cover the costs of the reconstruction for new boobs. I don't even know for certain that I'll do it. It's not like I'm trying to be a movie star - all plastic.

Mother: No, but you're only 55 and you got no man. You've got better choices if you've got all of your body parts than without them.

Dawn: I'm not so sure about that. I want a man who would love me - not my breasts. I figure if he loves me, breasts shouldn't be that important. I'm too old to have any more kids. So, I don't know. I worry about how safe they are. But the doctor say they are saline - just filled with salt water.

Mother: (smiling) Humm- I don't know. You could make this kind of fun. Wasn't one of those surgeries where they take your tummy and make 'em into boobs? You'd be looking pretty good. Wonder if this will lower your blood sugar too? You know, cutting off parts is losing weight isn't it?

Dawn: Well, I'm not so sure about that. I'll have to ask the diabetes doctor about that (giggling).

Mother: What about your drugs after you come home. Will the tribe pay for those?

Dawn: Well, I don't know yet. A few of them that they told me about are real expensive and the tribe doesn't carry any of those here.

Mother: You know how expensive some of those drugs are - especially cancer drugs. I think you may need to call that Native American Cancer Support Network. They've got a toll free number (1-800-537-8295).

Dawn: Yeah, I've got their number. I figured I should wait to find out what types of drugs I have to have first. It sounds pretty important for me to have these drugs. I will also have to go back and forth for my chemo later on. And I guess if I do decide to get the boobs, that I'll need some drugs for that too. You know for infection and stuff.

Mother: So, what do you have to do before the surgery?

Dawn: Not much. I'm going to church to talk to the minister tonight and then I'm going to the basket weavers group and ask them to pray for me.

Mother: But you're going to be all alone when you're in L.A. for the surgery?

Dawn: Yeah, I know. I think the Survivors' Network has some people in L.A. who can also help me.

Mother: that's good. Just to have someone nice to visit with you. Pray with you. Maybe do a little basket weaving with you.

Dawn: Well, there are a lot of Indian basket weavers who live there or close by, so I may ask one of them to come visit me.

Mother: Are you scared?

Dawn: A little, but really, I'm just kind of anxious to get it over with. You know, I just want to deal with it; get it over with.

To read more stories about Dawn, click on her leaf above or click Here

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