Waiting for Savasana


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Cooking Tips From My Son’s Pediatrician

My son had a check up recently.  He’s fine.  Better than he’s ever been in fact.

SHe asked about his eating and we told her that he’s basically a vegetarian that eats hotdogs and chicken nuggets.  Other than that, he sticks to fruits and veg.

So she told us her recipe for home made chicken nuggets and he really wanted me to make them.

It was quite simple.  Scramble up one egg in a bowl.  In a separate bowl mix bread crumbs, salt and pepper to taste.  She suggested adding parmesan cheese however we have some dairy adverse family members so we left that out.

I bought raw boneless, skinless chicken tenders in the meat section.  They were quite affordable.  I dipped them in the egg and then rolled them in the bread crumb mixture.

Then I fried the tenders in olive oil.  Once they were cooked on the outside, I stuck the whole pan in the oven for about 15 minutes.  I was also roasting broccoli simultaneously.  I know there are fancy recipes for roasted broccoli on Pinterest but honestly, I just toss the broc with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast is at 400 degrees for 10 minutes on each side.

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Anyway, you know the dinner was good when your husband brings home more chicken the next day and asks you to make it again.

I’m planning to make this for dinner again tonight.  Simple and tasty.

We have a really good pediatrician.


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Maybe I Don’t Want To Talk About It

I did something stupid.

See, last May after my surgery found 35 positive lymph nodes for the big C, my doctors ordered bone scans and CT scans to see if the cancer had ventured out to other parts.  Thank goodness, it hadn’t.

But my CT scan picked up a couple of small nodules on my right lung.  The radiologist said it was probably “post infection” and to retest in 6-12 months.

So I made the appointment a little over a week ago.  And I got a little freaked out.  I asked my Facebook friends to send me good thoughts.

That was stupid.

The scan itself was easy.  But about a day later, I got a message on my cell from my surgeon saying that the nodules were “more prominent”.

Wait.  What?  Really?!  What?!

Who leaves a message like that?!  Seriously.

So I called but she was in with a patient.  I called my oncologist but she was out for the week.  I called my nurse navigator and left her a message.

It was stressful.

Prominent?  What the heck does that mean?

So I finally got  call back from the Nurse Navigator who said that the pre-existing nodules were actually unchanged (which is good) but that there was some new stuff.  It was tiny and fuzzy.

She didn’t know much else.  My surgeon was talking to my oncologist.  They were going to refer me to a pulmonologist.  Blah, blah, blah.

I got the scan on a Wednesday, by Friday, I was freaked out.  I was able to read the CT scan report.  But I am not a doctor.  Who knew what this was?!!!

It was scary, nerve-wracking and depressing.

My husband and I spent Friday morning eating pancakes… and crying a little.  I was fully prepared to be told I was now Stage IV.

I forced myself to go to my Living Strong, Living Well class.  But I was pretty grumpy.  I returned home Friday afternoon to find another message from my surgeon telling me that my oncologist had looked at my films and it did not look like metastatic cancer to her.

So that’s good.

But we don’t really know what it is that is going on.

I had a bunch of appointments last week.  The first being with my oncologist who is not sure what is in my lung.  The next was with the pulmonologist who suggested many hypotheses.  It could be post-infection, it could be TB (?!), it could be pneumonia, it could be mold.  She asked if I grew up in a smoker’s household (I did).  She said that looking at my family history and listening to me, I am probably a touch asthmatic.  She listened and decided to get a sputum sample.  Ewww!  She needed three in fact.

I could not hock up a loogie on demand so I had to breathe in saline through a nebulizer.  It sounds worse than it is.

Finally I saw my radiation oncologist for my scheduled check up.  He was pretty straight with me.  He said that my lung stuff is one of three things:

1. An infection of some kind (which is what it looks like).

2. A side effect of radiation (which he says, it doesn’t look like)

3. Metastatic breast cancer (which he says it also doesn’t look like- but he said that with over 30 positive lymph nodes, we can never rule it out)

He told me to be happy that I feel good.  Keep taking tamoxifen and re-scan in two months to see if anything is going on.

He said that my cancer was serious and that it was ok because they were going to follow me closely.

Also, I think he tried to sell me prescription sunscreen…that was a little weird.

And I walked away feeling somewhat worried (although worrying is pointless) and forcing myself to breathe deep, deep breaths.  Being zen is the only thing that helps, really.

My sons knew what was going on.  We can’t keep anything from them anyway.  My little one directly asked me what was going on and I told him that we have to wait and see.

“But today, I feel ok and that is a gift.  Being with you is a gift every single day,” I told him.

I wish I could tell him that everything will be 100% ok forever.  I so truly wish I could tell him that.  But it’s like my radio oncologist said, what happened to me is serious and we can never completely rule out metastasis.

And to tell my children that the cancer will never ever come back would be a horrible, terrible lie.  And I won’t lie to my boys but I also don’t need to scare the crap out of them either.  I try to be honestly optimistic with them.

And we’re just taking it day by day.

But the stupid thing I did was posting that thing on Facebook because after we got not so great and kind of incomplete news, I didn’t want to say anything on Facebook anymore.  I mean, I really didn’t think anyone would have wanted a blow by blow report of our week-long ordeal.

But then people were coming up to me, asking how the scan went and I didn’t know what to say.  Because like my new nodules, it’s kind of fuzzy.

There’s just this big question mark over this.  I’m being “watched closely” but I don’t know what will happen in two months.

I am glad that the fuzzies don’t look like cancer.  That’s good.

This is all kind of part of the new normal.

But I decided at the beginning, that I would try very hard not to live my life in fear of metastasis.  Fear and worry are wasted emotions.  So I meditate.  I go to my happy place and when that’s done I try to fake it ’til I make it.

I’m drawing and painting and playing the flute (no kidding).  I bake.  The other day, I was home alone and bored so I baked a chocolate cake from scratch.  It was delicious.  I work out.  I take my dog for walks. I spend time with my kids and husband. I send cards and gifts to people. I see friends. I plant flowers.  I read. I meditate.  I sleep.  I watch movies.  I play Harry Potter Lego.  I sew.  I keep to myself a little more.  I don’t waste thoughts on things that aren’t worth it.  I try not to worry.  I focus on the positive.

I’m just living.

Like I said, every day is a gift.  That is true for everyone, cancer or no.

I try not to forget that.


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She Entered With a Dour Expression

She entered with a dour expression.

Her eyes serious and grim.

“I’m so sorry this is happening to you.”

So sorry.

The last we had met was when she cared for my pregnancy.

Well, that’s not true, now that I think about it.  The last time we met she yanked out the bc solution that in fact made me crazy for ten months and may…MAY have contributed to my current predicament.  But that’s another story.

Back to the  sorry.  “I’m so sorry.”

She was.  I saw deep concern in her eyes.  And I told her that if we had met months ago, I would share her expression but now all I can do is be glad I am here.

I am so glad I am here.

We wore the same necklace.

We picked up right where we had left off all those years ago.

I said, “I trust you.  I want you on my team.”

And she said yes.

And we talked about the pros and cons of another surgery.

Oophrectomy.  Look it up.

I don’t want it but I might need it.  I might.

And we talked about Tamoxifen and recurrences and side effects.

And she said, “I can’t tell you how many forty-year-old women I’ve seen on tamoxifen recently.”

And that was serious.

And it’s scary because we are the same age.

And I told her to get a mammogram.

I told her.

I told her.

And it was like old friends coming together, talking and laughing and wearing the same necklace.  Hers from Mother’s day and mine from two Christmases ago.

She said she would be on my team no matter what and then she did the exam.  She told me to go get that CT scan that was ordered for my lung nodule that is hopefully just a post infection thing.

She ordered an ultrasound for my ladybits.  Another check for cancer.  Tamoxifen precaution.

Strange that the drug that may save my life may also cause a separate cancer elsewhere.  But that’s what it is. It is what it is what it is.

This will never be over.

“You look great.”

So do you.

I feel better now that she is on my team.

We both left happy and laughing.

Because there is hope.  There is light.  There is friendship?  Maybe not…maybe just professional camaraderie or a strong mutual bond.

And there was hugging.

I am not out of the woods but I have people to hold my hand along the way.

That’s what matters.

Sometimes, that is all that matters.

 


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Haircut

Well, a trim, really.  My hair is not that long.  It is, in fact frustratingly short.  But it’s shaggy and uneven all the same.

It feels strange to be getting a haircut when I have barely any hair but hopefully my haircut person can work a miracle and make this mess look better/more feminine/less poodley.

When I was a kid, I had very short hair.  People always mistook me for a boy.  It caused a lot of shame and hurt for me.  There were many reasons why my hair was kept short.  It was very thick and described as “bushy”.  I cried when it was brushed (he-hem because it was not brushed properly…just sayin’).  My hair has been a great source of…um… passion and critique for many.

When I was 14, I grew it out and a whole new world opened for me.  And yes, my hair was big and often “bushy” and full of curls but it was me.  And if we are being honest, my hair became a crutch at times.  But still, I am not ashamed to say that I love my hair and when I finally became brave enough to defy others and grow it, my world opened.  And that was a very good thing.  And over the years,  it’s been different lengths and different colors and even different textures and some I have loved and some I have hated but all have been MY CHOICE and my hair was very freeing for me.

The baldness for six months was rough.  Very rough.  Because it was absolutely not my choice.  Wigs made things easier but it wasn’t a fix all.  Wigs are hot and they itch and even the good ones are not the same as a good head of hair.

And now my hair has grown in  a bit but it is a very slow process.  And to be honest, when I look in the mirror, I see the very unhappy 7th grader I used to be and it pisses me off because I am not that girl!

I wear hats…a lot but nothing can replace my hair.

I just have to be patient.  This too shall pass.

I did dye it dark because it grew in white to begin with and then this weird grey color, like pencil lead.  I also had my brows and lashes dyed because they also grew in very fain and light.  My eyelashes are so long though that any mascara I tried smudged my skin instantly.  It looked sloppy.  If anyone knows of a mascara that doesn’t smudge when lashes are long, I would love to hear about it.  Lancome Defincils mascara used to work well but they seem to have changed their formula.

I’m going back to the haircutter who gave me the bobbed hair after my surgery.  The woman I went to for the pixie cut shortly before chemo regaled me with stories of her friend’s mom who died horribly of breast cancer because, she claimed that cancer grew on her implants. ???!!!!

I just sat there, people.  Incredulous at the insensitivity of this “professional”.

I asked my plastic surgeon about the possibility of implants causing more cancer and was assured this was untrue.

“What an idiot!”  was the response I received.

Yeah, thanks for scaring the crap out of me.  No tip for you!

And another thing about hair.  Ever heard of lunago?  My sister claims that the fine white hairs that grew on my face and neck was a response to the chemo and won’t stick around.  Waxing and threading is your best friend in cases like this.  It’s very weird and unwelcome.  I don’t like being fuzzy.

Is this post vain?  You bet it is and I make no apologies.  Beauty is usually fleeting to begin with and it can be bitter when chemo is the reason.  And if I’m vain, then so is the rest of the world because I can tell you that people treat me differently, now that I look different.  And don’t even get me started on how people ( mostly men) treated me when I was puffed up from steroids.  Night and day, I tell you.

Ok off to the haircut store, as we call it in our house.  Wish me luck.  Hopefully, it won’t be too long before I can stick a clip in my hair.  A girl can dream.


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Recovery?

Every week I get a little better.  I have some setbacks here and there but things are consistently getting better.  I’m able to do housework without falling on the couch every ten minutes.  I don’t feel exhausted walking around the block.  I’m getting better.

I started the Living Strong, Living Well program at the YMCA down the street.  Living Strong, Living Well is a 12-week program through Stanford for cancer patients post treatment.  The program meets two times a week and includes a free membership to the Y for the duration of the course.

It looks like I am the youngest person in our group.  And it’s crazy how sick some of my teammates are.  Some of them are dealing with metastasis, many are still bald.  Most of us are the definition of the walking wounded.  And we’re all there to exercise?  Yes.

Doesn’t it give you hope?  I mean here we are, a bunch of sick people getting together to do cardio, lift weights and stretch together.  Cancer patients all.  It kind of redefines the concept of “No Excuses” doesn’t it?

A part of me think it’s a completely insane concept.  Here we are, dealing with some serious stuff while we run or walk on a treadmill or wrestle with an elliptical trainer.  A bunch of cancer patients lifting weights.  It’s kind of absurd if you think about it.  But it’s great.  It’s a way to give cancer the finger.

It gives me hope for all of us, you know?

And I have found that it takes my mind off of things.  Exercise is a good distraction.

I hope someday soon I will start to actually feel human again.  I can dream, can’t I?

 


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Ten Things

1. I am really tired of thinking about/talking about/dealing with cancer.  I have reached my fill for the moment.  Am I in denial?  Perhaps.  But since I currently have no evidence of disease (knock wood), I just don’t feel like thinking about it.

2. With that said, three out of four of us are currently sick with a cold.  Unfortunately, I am in the majority.  We walked to a restaurant yesterday for lunch.  It’s about a mile each way.  I barely made it home.  I immediately got into bed and stayed there the rest of the day.  I watched Mamma Mia on dvd.  That cheered me up a little.  However, it stinks feeling sick and tired and having two kids who are mutually miserable.  Yep.  Poor hubby is taking care of the family AGAIN.

3. Our holiday consisted of a trip to the desert.  My husband and my first vacation together was to the desert.  We stayed in the same place as last time but in a cottage.  It was lovely but it was very different from the trip we took fourteen years ago.  Life is different with kids.  It just is.  Regardless, a good time was had by all.

4. I finally got around to watching “Cloud Atlas” while on holiday and, strangely, I loved it.  I didn’t expect to at all. But I thought it was incredibly entertaining and evocative.  I made husband watch it with me the next night and…he hated it.  He felt the exact opposite of me although we both agreed that Jim Broadbent saved the entire movie.  We’ve been talking about it ever since.  I actually want to buy the movie and he thinks I’m crazy.  I love how we can disagree on something so completely but still have great conversations.  I’m not mad at him for not liking it and he’s not mad at me for liking it.  We just have different opinions and there is room for that.  Regardless, I need to watch that movie again because it’s super long and both times, I fell asleep in parts.

If you don’t know anything about the movie, it’s basically six movies in one.  Each movie represents a different time period and genre but contains the same actors playing different roles, races, genders.  My husband felt much of it was superfluous.  I found value in every story.  You know it’s pretty cool when Hugh Grant is in every story but only recognizable in two out of six (and in one of them, he’s a scary cannibal!!).  The main point of the whole thing is the belief that our lives transcend birth and death.  I just can’t stop thinking about it.

5. I don’t think I’m going to be ready for that Hot Chocolate Run in two weeks.  I thought I could walk it but there is a 15 minute mile time limit and sadly, I am not there yet.  I try to walk daily and I’ve got this 2.7 mile loop that I walk in my neighborhood.  Sometimes it takes me 45 minutes and i come home covered in sweat.  15k?  I don’t think so.  There is a 5k option.  I’m going to see if I can do that.  I’m kind of bummed but I know that when I signed up, I was being optimistic.  I’m honestly just glad to be walking a couple miles a day.

6. I listen to audiobooks while I walk.  I am currently listening to “The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt.  I remember her first book, “The Secret History”.  People loved it.  People raved about it.  It didn’t touch me.  I was disappointed.  I am enjoying “The Goldfinch” but it seems like a Murphy’s Law kind of book.  The main character just seems to be bombarded with crappy circumstances.  Sometimes it’s a lot to take in.  I do not know how it ends and I am hoping this kid catches a break but things are not looking good so far.

I’ve had an Audible membership for a couple of years now.  Every month i get one token to spend on a book.  I am very particular about the books I choose.  I usually opt for longer books in order to get my money’s worth.  I pay something like $14 a month so I find books that are at least comparable in price.

I have listened to some incredible novels I probably would not have picked up on my own.  Ender’s Game and Ender’s Shadow being two of them.  Also the entire Outlander series.  Davina Porter is an artist narrator.  I could listen to her read the phonebook.

I have also taken chances on books I haven’t been able to finish.  Pillars of the Earth, blech.  I know most people love it but I hate that book.  I’ve also never been able to get into “The Kite Runner” so I thought the audiobook would be an excellent way to finally read this book…but it’s narrated by the author, who I’m sorry to say is not a great narrator so I still have not read that stupid book.

Hmm…perhaps my love of audiobooks would best be expressed in a longer post all of it’s own.

7. We have absolutely no plans for New Years and that is awesome.  I think we might cook a little, play some games, watch some movies.  I don’t feel like doing much else.

8.  I am going to do a Whole30 beginning on January 1.  I am doing this because I am feeling very inflamed after everything and I think cutting out inflammatory foods cold turkey could really help things.  My armpit hurts, people.  It hurts a lot.  Nobody ever told me it would be my armpit that hurt the most.  Weird thing is, the skin of my armpit is completely numb (which is great when I am getting my pits waxed, and no I don’t shave them because I am afraid of getting a nick, since there is no feeling and getting lymphedema which I just do not want), it’s the inside, the muscles and tendons that are really painful.  Things are supposed to get better when I have my exchange surgery that trades out the uncomfortable tissue expanders I am currently sporting for real implants.  Unfortunately, exchange surgery is pretty far off (six months after radiation) so I just take Advil and deal with the pain.  It gets worse at night time.  I stretch and do my PT exercises but my armpit is still not great.

Anyway, I am hoping the Whole30 does what it did last time, reduces inflammation and instigates much needed weight loss.  No dairy, no grains, no legumes, no white potatoes, no sweets, NO CHEATING. Just lots of fruits and veg and some meat.  I’m ready.

9. I am extremely impatient about my hair growth.  It started growing back while I was doing the Taxol but things seem to have stalled. Being a lifelong curly girl, I was hoping it would come in straight (a girl can dream) but at about one inch, it started to curl.  So it looks like an unkempt pixie cut.  I’m thinking about going in for a trim but that seems counterproductive.  Regardless, my hair is currently annoying me.  Just grow already!  Sheesh!

10. Everything is currently in limbo.  I’m still just slowly recovering and I’m ok with that.  I am thankful for normalcy.  I am basically just in a deep exhale.  Maybe not even an exhale, more like the space between an inhale and an exhale. Believe it or not, it’s a good place to be.


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Making Stuff

This year, our holidays will be fairly low key.  We are finding ourselves a bit of what my old friend Judy (who passed two years ago from this horrible disease) “cancer poor”.  We are ok.  Thank goodness for decent insurance, right?  But there were expenses…like three times as many summer camps for the boys than usual, money well-spent IMO.

We are just needing to tighten our belts and personally, I think it’s a good thing.  I think it teaches good lessons to be fiscally responsible.

So, I’m making stuff with my fancy sewing machine  that was purchased pre-diagnosis.

We bought cards but they are from Costco and I bought the bare minimum.  And no, I did not include a picture of myself on them.  I am not in any frame of mind to put my mug on a dorky holiday card and send it out.

I love getting holiday cards.  Seriously.  I love it.  I tape them all over my window sill.  They make me really happy.

But the pressure of sending them.  It’s a lot for an unorganized girl like me.  Every year, I run out of cards.  Every year, I go digging up the same addresses.  Every year, I finally give up in exhaustion knowing that I most likely sent three cards to the same house.  Mail merges and lists are a great idea but it’s not my strong suit.  Every year it’s the same thing.  But that’s okay.

Want to see how many cards I got when I was going through treatment?  I kept them all.  They make me really happy.  They give me goosebumps.  I keep them in a pretty bag.

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I wish I could make something crafty for every single person who thoughtfully sent me a gift or a card or several cards.

But for now, I am starting with my boys’ teachers.  My youngest is making his teacher a reversible scarf.  It’s of his own design.  I’m like, “What about this nice pattern?  Or this one?” and he’s all, “No Mom, I know what I want to do.”  So we went to the fabric store and he picked his teacher’s favorite colors and we will work on it once he finishes this other project we’ve been working on.

And as a side note, I strongly believe that parents should give a gift to their child’s teachers around the holidays and at the end of the school year.  I don’t just say that because I am a teacher.  I say it because I know how hard these people work.  I know it is often a  thankless job.  I know these teachers have a lot on their plates besides making sure our kids get a good education.  They deserve something nice.  Even if it’s a card your child made for them that you filled with words of gratitude.

Regardless of what I make and what I do this holiday season.  For me, this December is really about appreciating the people who made my life easier while I went through a difficult time.  People who went above and beyond to bring a smile to my face or that of my boys.  I said early on in this blog that I am historically an insecure person.  I fully expected to be alone once I was diagnosed.  I really thought that I would lose everyone.  Sadly, I just braced myself for that because it has been a pattern in my life.  But it didn’t happen (well it DID happen on one level (a horrendous level) but not with the people who really know me and LOVE me).  I am overwhelmed by the love I received.  And yes, a card in the mail makes a difference.  A text makes a difference.  A phone call makes a difference.  Calling me and asking if you can come for a visit makes a difference.  If you brought us a dinner, it made a difference.  If you thought about us, it made a difference. Support is support.  And it makes all the difference.  I was tidying and I found a note from one of my dearest friends whom I have known since the second grade.  “I wish I lived closer.” she said.  It made me tear up even months later.

I’ve been reading that when someone is diagnosed with cancer, many just don’t know what to do.  It scares them.  Some it scares so badly that they need to turn away.  But if you are reading this and you are scared, I just have to tell you that it doesn’t take much to make someone’s day.  A card, a text, a prayer, a Facebook message.  Being brave means doing things even when you are scared so if someone you love this season is going through something and you just don’t know what to do, just do something little.  That’s really all it takes.

And conversely, if someone you love is diagnosed with something horrible, don’t go overboard either.  Respect the person’s boundaries and listen to their wishes.  Their illness is not about you.  I really believe that a lot of misunderstandings and arguments occur because of this.  I learned that my illness is my thing and that I have the right to set any kind of boundary without others adding their egos into the mix.  The last thing I wanted to do during chemo was argue with another person and yet, in the beginning of my treatment, it was happening a lot and everyone involved was miserable.  Cancer patients don’t have the energy to waste on petty ego arguments.  The last thing I needed was that.  Think about it.  It may hurt to hear that your presence is not needed but it isn’t always about you. That may sound harsh but it’s true.  Toward the end of chemo, there were times that I was home alone and I was too sick to answer the door.  I had to cancel dinners that people were bringing because I knew I couldn’t get out of bed to open the front door.  I felt awful and ungrateful cancelling but you know what? Everyone was understanding.

That’s love.

One of my friends had even MADE the meal.  I asked her not to bring it and she put it in her freezer.  Then she texted me asking if she could bring it in a couple of days but I didn’t get the text for months.  I was mortified.  I felt so rude and bad.  But when I contacted her…she was totally cool about it.  She was all kindness.  That matters.  It matters.

Having this cancer has taught me a lot about myself.  About who and what is important.  About who I can rely on to really have my best interests at heart.  And the little things mattered.  That time my friend Michelle brought me popsicles mattered.  That time my friend Julie patiently let me change my mind about a coffee date three times mattered.  That time my brother came to visit and hugged me and told me he loved me mattered.  That time my sister texted me pictures of my adorable new niece, it mattered.  All the times my clan of  aunties sent me a card to lift my spirits, it mattered.  And when my mother drove seven hours simply to take my children to GolfLand to give us all a break, that mattered.  The daily texts throughout my chemo from my friend and sorority mom Jennifer, those texts mattered a lot. That time my friend L knocked on my door with a Starbucks, that mattered.  That time I told my friend Heather I was too tired to talk and she gently let me get off the phone, that mattered.  That time this wonderful guy, Rich ran a marathon for me and brought me the Tiffany necklace. Well, that just made me cry like a baby.

I believe that patterns happen in our lives and it is up to us to see them and face them and fix them when we can or, if we need to, let them go.

I think this cancer (while it is a horrible thing) has shown me how loved I am.  And that is a big lesson for a person who deep down has not always felt very loved.

I am so grateful for the love and care I have received.  I am so lucky.  I wish I could send every one of you a present I made with my two little hands.

But all I can really say is thank you for being there for me in whatever way.  It mattered.


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“Are You Okay Now?”

That’s a question I get asked a lot.

It’s a tricky answer.

Technically, I have been “cancer free” since my surgery on April 18th.  We confirmed that with bone and body scans.  There is no detectable cancer in my body.

There could, however, be microscopic traces of cancer still in my system and since it made it to my lymph nodes, there is a bigger chance.  The chemo was done to try to prevent the microscopic traces (if there were any) from growing.  The radiation was done for the same reason.

See it’s not like if I had a blood cancer and they were giving me chemo to kill it or put it in remission.

The doctors cut out my cancer and then blasted me in the hopes of keeping it away.

Of course their aim was to “cure” me.

My new oncologist told me that if it doesn’t come back in fifteen years, that means I was cured.

Fifteen years is a long time to wait.  I will be fifty-six.  In fifteen years, both of my children will be in their twenties.  Fifteen years seems like an eternity.  Anything can happen in fifteen years.  I can’t really even contemplate fifteen years.

For now, I am ok.  I hope to remain that way.

I never felt sick with the cancer.  It was the treatment that made me feel unhealthy.

It is a very strange thing to wrap one’s head around.

Am I okay?  Yes.  I am okay.

Will I always be okay?  We don’t know.  Nobody knows.

It seems strange to do all that work and go through all that torture and not know if it even works.  But the truth is, only time will tell.

So when people ask me, I am never quite sure how to answer.  I tell them I’m ok for now.  I tell them I hope to be okay forever.

When I was a kid, I read a book about a girl who had bone cancer.  I remember thinking to myself, how scary.  How do you live your life knowing you have cancer?

Well, now I can tell you that you just do it.  You just live.  And you are grateful for every day you can get out of bed and be alive.  Even boring mundane stuff is fun these days.  Cleaning the kitchen is even fun.  Seriously.  Heck, breathing is fun.

And it feels great to feel better, even when it is in baby steps.

The other day, I called my friend Heather.  We’ve been friends for over twenty years.  The last time I talked to her was right after I had finished chemo and I did not have much to say. The call was quite brief.  This time, I talked and talked.  It made me realize how much progress I have made in my recovery.  I don’t take it for granted for one second.

Am I okay now?

Yes.  Today I am okay.

The actress Lynn Redgrave had her first battle with breast cancer in the early 2000’s.  After her treatment, she apparently stated that she would not die of breast cancer.  And then, several years later, she did indeed die of breast cancer.  It came back.  And the weird thing is, if you do a search, you will see that there are breast cancer survivors who were mad at her.  Mad that she would be so bold to say that she was cured and then have the audacity to die.

Really?

She was trying to be optimistic.  She was trying to take control of her disease.  She was hoping she was cured.  And people got mad at her for dying?

All I can say is that the internet is full of jerks.

I do not find myself as bright eyed as Ms. Redgrave.  My brain is wired to be more realistic.

The truth is that this disease could eventually kill me.  That is a big possibility.

But it isn’t going to do it today…or even tomorrow.

Today, I am okay, and that is all I’ve got.


1 Comment

Blech

I seem to have caught a little cold.  It’s the first one I’ve had since last winter.  It’s really been kind of nice.  There has been a great deal of illness from other members of the household but I have managed to escape it all for months until now.

It’s weird when you consider it.

Yes, treatment has brought a great deal of pain and drama but I have not been conventionally sick in almost a year.

“It’s about time.” said someone who shall remain nameless.

Humph!

Anyway, I have a little cough and head ache.  It’s nothing hugely bad.  Just uncomfortable.

In other news, I met my new oncologist this week and the meeting went well.  A lot more listening, a lot less gruff than what I had been experiencing with my former oncologist.

I am not trying to disparage my former oncologist.  Like I said, she served me well during treatment and was very aggressive.  She was also attentive when trouble arose.  Like when I had mouth sores on my birthday.  She called in prescriptions at the speed of light.  I appreciated that care.

I explained to my new oncologist that while she and her colleagues have years of experience and schooling behind them in the field of fighting cancer, I only really have the past eight months and I need a sympathetic and patient ear when I have questions.  And some days, I have lots of questions.

I am also unwilling to be put out to pasture or dismissed.

Regardless, I have never been a “do what I tell you to do” kind of person.  I need someone who is willing to work with me.

These doctors hear these question hundreds, even thousands of times but for me, it’s the first time asking them.

Hopefully, this new oncologist will continue to collaborate with me.  This is my life we are talking about here.

Onward and upward.