So, I get a little melancholy this time of the year. I think of all the things that could have been, all the things that have been and wonder what things I will still get to be a part of. Today, I have more hope than I did four years ago. I have lived through chemotherapy, I have found remission, and I have been lucky enough to be blessed with three grandchildren, and to see one of my children get married. These are things I wasn’t so sure I would ever see, when I heard those words, “We found cancer.”
I remember being in a store shortly after my diagnosis and overhearing a woman talking about her 40th anniversary. I started crying. Would I see my 40th birthday, let alone my 40 year anniversary, at that time I wondered if I would ever get to see our 5 year anniversary - well I did, we’ve been married 6 years now and who knows, maybe I will get to see 40.
There is a high risk, a high chance, a high probability, of recurrence - those words are repeated all throughout my medical charts. Reality bites! There is a greater chance of it coming back than there is of it staying away. And, I think part of my trouble with this particular anniversary, the 4 yr anniversary of my diagnosis, is that I am currently in a scare. I know, I haven’t mentioned it, but I think about it every single day.
When I went for my check up in August, I told you that all tests were ok and they were, except, well Dr. Onc decided to run a CT Scan and when you get a phone call from the oncologist, himself, you know it's never good news. A few spots were seen in the chest cavity - Dr Onc says the chances are very good that they will be nothing, but because of my history I need to see him in November and have more scans and such. So my plans of having Portia (my chemo port) removed this month came crashing down.
I tell myself it’s all ok, that I have had issues before and each time things have turned out ok. But I’m really scared. I think I could liken this to pregnancies - I got more worried with each pregnancy, thinking I had already had X number of healthy babies that the odds were against me having yet another healthy infant. So, I guess it’s just the way of me to worry more with each scare. So far, I’ve had needle biopsies that have ended up being ok, then earlier this year was the liver enzyme scare that ended up ok, now this - what if. . .
I will be spending this day at Lambeau Field having a tail gate party with friends, then the evening will be spent with my husband. What do I call this? It’s not a happy anniversary day that’s for sure, it’s not a celebration, but what ever it is, this day does not go unnoticed. The day is noted, the one that changed my life forever, the one that reminded me my days are numbered, ours all are. It's the one day each year I will allow myself to wallow a little if I need to, have my little pity party, get ticked off, then get back up fighting. It's all I can do - keep fighting, keep going, keep living each day like it might be the last, but also like it's the first, if that makes sense.
I do want to share the post I wrote four years ago, when I got the news, these were my feelings at the moment of finding out. To clarify a little, I went through denial for months and months, up until after my surgery at least, I expected to hear a doctor say that they were wrong, that it was not cancer after all - sometimes I still hope to hear those words. I shared my denial with my family, when I first told them the news, I told them the doctor thought it might be, even though the doctor never used the word 'might'.
Cancer - way off topic of house building
After eight years of having issues with my stomach I had a test on Tuesday and the Doctor says it's cancer. Three years ago I had every test imaginable except the colonoscopy. Six years ago I had every test imaginable except the colonoscopy. Since we started building the house I've had more issues and more pain so I finally could put the test off no longer. Other doctors had wanted to do, even scheduled me for, this test and I always chickened out. I couldn't do it. I was embarrassed and scared. I just couldn't.
Well, I went to an internal medicine doctor in July or August because things had gotten so much worse over the last few months. The pain was coming more often and the blood was coming more and more and sometimes was straight blood. Also, I have lost 28 lbs in the last few months. So I was scheduled to do it in September and I moved the appointment because I was too busy on the house. Then I was supposed to do it on Sept 29, but we were totally busy trying to move. I forgot about the appointment. Oct 2 I spent three hours in the ER because the pain was so bad I could not walk without tremendous pain. The ER drew blood and said everything looked fine and I should reschedule the colonoscopy. They told me to take Tylenol and sent me home - my husband got pissed. Oct 3 I called and explained everything to the gastroenterologist's office and they got me scheduled for the 18th.
I overcame the fear of the test because of the fear of not having the test and made it to the appointment. Immediately before the procedure I told the doctor that I knew it wasn't cancer because I'd already be dead by now. The IV that was placed was not in right so my medication did not help the procedure. I remember everything that happened and I felt everything because the medication went under my skin instead of in my vein. Needless to say the doctor did not finish the procedure. He stopped because of the pain and the mass. He told my husband and I that I have cancer. He set me up with a CT scan on Wednesday and a surgeon next week.
We went home puzzled that he could KNOW it was cancer that quickly but apparently he can. He has years of experience and according to my regular doctor he is able to tell by seeing it.
I had the CT scan Wednesday but won't get the results until next Thursday when I see the surgeon.
Today I saw my regular doctor and she tells me that on the positive side of things the cancer has not "broke through the wall" and has not spread to my liver. She's not sure if my treatment will entail chemo but she seems to think it might. She could tell me no more, she couldn't tell me that I don't have to count days. She just said that when I see the surgeon I need to know that his suggestions are the ones he thinks will save my life and that I need to be most concerned with what will save my life not things like the fact that I don't want a colostomy.
I told all four of my kids Tuesday evening that the doctor thought it might be cancer and I had to have some more tests. My daughter (19) told me that if I had to have chemo she would cut her hair (which she never does) so that I would have hair. :) Wednesday morning Mikal (17) got up and let the dogs out & in, fed and watered them and swept the hallway before he left for school. Khristiaan (16) had a lot of questions, some of which I could answer. I don't think Haden (14) fully comprehends.
I told my daughter today. Before I told her it might be, but 2 doctors have said it so now it's real. She cried even though I tried to reassure. I told her to talk to her dad and her step-mom (she's an RN) and they would help her feel better. I reminded her that cancer treatment has improved a lot and that it isn't a death sentence anymore. Just sucks I can't hold her and tell her everything will be ok.
My kids are full of many of the same questions I have and I can't answer and it's so hard. My husband and I were totally floored by the diagnosis, we were not expecting this at all. We thought it might be Crohn's disease or something similar. So now he's trying to finish this house on his own. We have to have it done by the end of the month so we can get the reappraisal and close on the new loan. We've already locked in our rate; we have to close in November. I feel bad that he now has to carry more of the load and me less but honestly I have less pain when I do less.
I hope by sharing this that maybe I have just helped someone gain the courage to get things checked, don't let it get as bad as I did before you go. I am praying I didn't wait too long. I finally did it (the colonoscopy) and you can too.
FYI: Statistically Lung cancer is still the number one cause of cancer death, colorectal is number two and breast number three - any ideas why I get so ticked off that breast cancer gets loads more coverage? In 2009 alone, it is estimated 49,960 people will die of colorectal cancer and 40,170 of breast cancer. Because I am a woman people assume I had breast cancer, women's cancer magazines are aimed at women with breast cancer. I'm here to tell you women can, and do, get other kinds of cancer!
Humor is a petal on the flower of hope, and hope blossoms on the vine of faith ~ Dean Koontz (Life Expectancy)