Waiting for Savasana


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Stuff in My Lungs That Isn’t Cancer

I just had the 2nd follow up CT scan of my lung.  I meet with my pulmonologist next week.  From what the reports says, it looks like some stuff cleared up and some stuff stayed the same and some stuff got worse.  Great.  I’m sure it doesn’t help that I currently have a raging case of bronchitis anyway.  It hasn’t been fun.  BUT IT’S NOT CANCER!

I did receive my very own inhaler a couple of weeks ago.  Just for me!  I’ve had upper respiratory issues for most of my life; chronic bronchitis from childhood up until just a couple of years ago.  Acupuncture changed my health drastically.  I went from three or four serious upper respiratory illnesses a year to zero.

Zero.

I did get fifth’s disease a couple of years ago but since I started getting regular acupuncture, I’ve been very healthy…except for the whole cancer thing.

I had missed several weeks of acupuncture and I caught a cold that quickly went to my chest and then knocked me on my tush.

And it’s very frustrating.

But I digress, both my kids have had inhalers since infancy.  When I have had problems breathing in the past, I just sneak one of theirs.

When I met with the pulmonologist she asked me a bunch of questions like, did I grow up with adults smoking in the house? Yes…three of them.

Do I have a family history of asthma?  You bet.  But I didn’t know about it until my 30’s when I reunited with my birth family.  The adoption agency didn’t feel it was important to mention that my grandmother, mother and several uncles were asthmatic, even though it was in my file.  Stupid.  Stupid and dangerous because when my infant had what we thought was croup, the doctors didn’t suspect asthma because neither my husband nor I believed there was any family history of it.  It was frustrating then.

My birth mom was all, “Why did the agency make me sit for hours answering medical history questions if they weren’t going to share them with your parents?”

Good question.

But don’t get me started on open records and adoptees rights to their medical histories and original birth certificates (of which I now have both!!!) because we will be here all day.

So the doctor thinks I’ve always had low level asthma but that it really got triggered by recent events.

“Stop using your kids’ inhalers.  I’m giving you one of your own.”

You know, this breathing crap started this summer during chemo.  I would be sitting there reading a book and hear this wheezing sound and think, “What’s that noise?” and then “Oh!  It’s me!”

I told my oncologist and she just blew me off.

So I just used my kids’ inhalers when I struggled because obviously this all must be in my head and I was just being a baby as my ONC implied.

But it turns out, I most likely have asthma that has been brought on by the chemo as well as a nasty bacteria in my lung.

Whose laughing now, oncologist?!!

Well…not me because being able to breathe is a big deal.  We take it for granted until we have problems, and then it’s a real problem, you know?

The inhaler helps sometimes but the other day, I spent 3 hours on the couch with what felt like an elephant sitting on my chest.  And the inhaler didn’t help at all and it was kind of scary.  I didn’t really know what to do but I knew I wasn’t being a baby because I’ve seen my kids go through the same thing.

Should I have gone to urgent care?  I don’t know.  This is all new to me.

Eventually, the tightness passed but it was exhausting.

So all I can really do is keep trying to boost my immunity.

I’ve been juicing and making green smoothies.  I even went to Jamba Juice and tried my first and second shots of wheat grass.  It really wasn’t bad.  Kind of sweet and they give you and orange slice to chase it with.  Tastes better than tequila.

I went to the birthday party for a friend and midway through dinner, I was so exhausted, I put my head down on the table.  I was home and in bed by 8:30.  Lame.

I seem to finally be coming out of it but like I said, it’s frustrating.

Yesterday, I got out of bed for about 20 minutes, took a shower and was so exhausted, I crawled back in bed and stayed there the rest of the day.  Not cool.

I’ve been reading.  I’ve read three books by Liane Moriarty.  I am currently on a fourth one.  So far, “What Alice Forgot” is my favorite.  It’s about a woman who bumps her head at the gym and forgets the last ten years of her life including the birth of her children and the breakdown of her marriage.  I really enjoyed it.

I finished Harry Potter Lego (it was highly anticlimactic) and now I am playing Pokemon Y on my very own 2ds.  My kids think I am the coolest mom ever.  My little one and I have Pokemon battles.  He keeps winning.  Hey, at least we’re interacting, right?

And now I am trying to justify a trip to McDonald’s drive thru in my pajamas because I am craving an Egg McMuffin.  Who’s going to see me?  I’ll stay in the car.  God?  I think she’ll understand.  Can I do it if I put on my robe?

Also, I’ve decided it’s ok to have a McMuffin as long as I have some fresh squeezed beet carrot apple spinach juice with it.  My juicer has been getting a workout but golly I hate cleaning that thing!

Maybe I’ll just stick a sign on my back that says, I give up and be done with it.

 

 

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The Lessons of Cancer

Last night, my younger son said to me, “Mom, why don’t the doctors just shoot you full of some kind of chemicals to make sure the cancer doesn’t come back?”

We all stared at him for a minute, mouths agape.

“You know…you could go to the doctor and he would have a big needle and shoot you full of stuff to clean out that cancer!”

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My older son looked incredulous.  “That’s what she did!”.

Younger son looked confused.

I explained, “You know the chemo I did?  That’s exactly what the doctors did.  We did that.”

Older son said, “What do you think Mom did all summer?!”

My first chemo.

My first chemo.

My younger son then said, “But if you did that, then why can’t we be sure that it’s gone forever?”

Awwww, son.

So I explained that I did everything I could to cure my breast cancer.  First surgery, then chemo, then radiation, then Tamoxifen.  I explained that the protocol is promising and that it works for a lot of people and that we really hope it works for me.  My older son piped in and said, “Mom’s cancer is Stage 3.”

And I said, “It’s not just Stage 3 it’s Stage 3C.  The closest you can get to stage 4.”

Younger son asked, “What’s after Stage 4?”

And I gently explained that Stage 4 is it.  But that these days, there are many people who live for years at Stage 4.  My dad lived at Stage 4 for ten years.  And that’s a really long time, especially for kidney cancer.  I also explained that he was Stage 1 or 2 for ten years before that.

“So here’s the thing, guys.  I had all the treatment and now I am trying to keep my body healthy because I believe that a good immune system is part of all this fighting cancer stuff.  In all the years I knew my dad, he was rarely if ever sick.  The rest of us would be down with some illness and he wouldn’t even catch it.  He’d be the one taking care of all of us!”

“And the kind of cancer my dad had, it isn’t very treatable with chemo and radiation.  After my dad’s first surgery, the doctors sent him home and wished him luck…and that cancer stayed away for ten years!  That’s something!”

Doctors have written papers about my dad’s strength.

And then my younger son asked the question he always asks, “Which DAD?”

And I explained it was his Pupa.  The only Dad of mine we knew.  My adoptive dad.  And as always, this led to the questions about my birthdad, R.  He died of brain cancer three years before I found my birth family.

“That’s a lot of cancer, Mom.” my eldest said.  And that’s not even the half of it.  My birthmom had breast cancer a year before me and her mom died from lymphoma in the ’70’s.

“Yes.  We have a lot of cancer in our family. We have to do what we can to fight it.”

So then we talked about all the things we are doing to try to stay healthy.

We all exercise, we go on a lot of walks (the complaining about the walks are endless!).  We eat better.  We eat lots of vegetables.  We don’t eat as much meat.  We limit dairy.  I’ve been making our bread in the bread machine almost every day…honey whole wheat.  I juice vegetables several times a week.  We eat green smoothies.  I offer it to the boys.  They don’t always take it.  The other day I did my first shot of wheat grass.

We’re getting crunchy in here people!

We eat a lot of brussels sprouts and cauliflower and broccoli (roasted in the oven and 350 with some olive oil, salt and pepper, mmmmm).

We eat a lot less sugar than we used to…well, I do anyway.

I drink a lot of green and white tea.  I take a lot of supplements.

We all try to get good sleep.  Both boys have an early bedtime because sleep is important.  They complain but when they get to stay up, they are miserable the next day so what’s the point?

The reality is, that genetically it seems my boys and I have some predispositions to cancer.  I know I do.  The jury is out for them.  But I feel like now it’s my job to model prevention for them and to do it in a way that doesn’t scare them.

We don’t cram it down their throats and believe me, we still have cookies in the house and chips.  But we model better eating and better sleeping and better exercising most every day.

I know my little boy wants a guarantee for me.  He wants me to be 100% cured.  I hope I am.  I hope I can be that for him.  But I also know that with my diagnosis, it would be cruel to tell my boys that I am “Cured” forever.  I am cured for now and we have lots of HOPE.  And hey!  There’s things I can do to stay healthy.  Look at me eat my beets!  Look at me down this nasty wheat grass!  Look at me going for a 5 mile walk!  Look at me do my qigong video! (You’re doing great, Mama!) I am not doomed.  We have hope!  That is important.  And most importantly, I have my boys to live for, to fight for.

What would I do without those boys?


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Can You See My White Knuckles?

People are still telling me how brave and strong I am. And I have to disagree.

I’m not doing anything brave.  Not at all.

I feel like I am hanging onto the edge of a cliff for dear life.  If I think about it too much, it scares the crap out of me.

I’m scared every day.

I laugh because there are studies that say it will help me live longer.  I drink green tea for the same reason.  I exercise for that reason too.  And I take stupid supplements too.  I actually think I have a problem with supplements.  I keep buying them.

Last week, I almost bought a kit to grow Turkey Tail mushrooms because there’s some study that says they fight cancer.

The Husband noticed my obsession with supplements and asked me where I am going to draw the line as supplements can get expensive.  And the answer is, I don’t know.

I’m scared.

There is nothing brave about any of this.  What choice do I have here?

No choice, just living.

It’s funny, there are several people who treat me like I am already dead.  No kidding.  When I see them, they look right through me, like I’m not there.  Like I’m already a ghost.  It’s a bit disturbing.  At first it hurt my feelings a bit, but what can you do?  Maybe I’ll get a t-shirt that says “I’m not dead…yet.”

It is strange to think that my very existence frightens people but it seems to be the case at times.

But I’m not dead yet.

And I’m not always scared.  Just when I think about it too much.

So my life is about distractions.  And that’s not brave.

I’ve also found I have to curb my swearing.  If I am even slightly agitated, I seem to let the swear words fly.  What can I say?  I’m stressed out.

So don’t think I’m here fighting dragons or slaying vampires.  Really, I’m just kind of hanging out, hoping to stay fairly healthy.  I think that’s what any sane person would do.

Nothing brave or strong about it.