Remember, remember the 23rd of November

My life with cancer began exactly four years ago. I’d like to think that in reflection of everything we have overcome in the last four years I’d be in a place to articulate some passionate battle cry but I’m just not there today. Maybe tomorrow, or next week, or next month, but the past few weeks have simply worn me down.

Although I’m feeling much more positive today than I have in recent days, I can safely admit that I’ve had a steady case of the Eeyore’s.

fatigue_2

Early fall I was just feeling some welcome momentum, like I was hitting my stride again. Unfortunately, because cancer doesn’t really give a crap about your personal priorities, a string of challenges started to creep up during the heart of registration period (all my academic advising homies can collectively cringe here).

This includes:

  • Suddenly becoming allergic to one of my chemo drugs
  • Fluid collecting around my lungs. This was rectified by two horrible lung taps that yielded a total of ~ 1250 ML of fluid  between the right and left side.
  • Encountering some intestinal pain as of Monday (that I refuse to let become another full blown bowel obstruction).

I’m not saying it’s the worst set of circumstances, but on a spectrum of “Annoying” to “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, WHY?!” it was a solid “Can I please catch a break? PLEASE?”

More recently I’ve been physically so exhausted and with that I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole of intrusive thoughts which is never a fun place to be. It’s that place where you feel powerless over what is happening to you and I couldn’t seem to shake that sense of “yuck”. None of my favorite comforts seemed to help. I couldn’t focus enough for deep breathing or meditation. I couldn’t catch my breath after walking 10 feet so exercise wasn’t realistic. Ativan is great to quiet the mind temporarily but when you wake up, the overwhelming thoughts must still be dealt with.

Thank goodness for the plethora of “Christopher Robins” in my life because the only thing I could do that gave me any relief was cry and talk it out. I cried to the people that I love and sought some reassurance.

I didn’t want anyone to cheerlead or tell me that I’m brave or that it will all be okay. Because what is bravery, really, when you didn’t sign up for this? I just wanted validation that how I’m feeling in this moment really sucks.

eeyore

My loved ones came through and as always helped to pull me up from the vortex of unproductive thoughts and back to more neutral state of being.

As bleh as I have been feeling, I continue to feel grateful for the people in my life that never waver. I know that you feel powerless too, even more so than me sometimes, and I would not be here four years later without that unconditional love.

I’m also grateful that we have another treatment option available before turning to more clinical trials. I will soon be starting a chemo infusion called Doxil that is typically used for people like me with recurrent ovarian cancer.

Pro’s:

  • It is administered over 2 1/2 hours the first time and only one hour for each infusion after that. No long days in the chemo chair!
  • It is administered once every four weeks. So basically I’ll only have chemo once per month. Woo!
  • No predrugs (ex: Steroids, Benadryl, etc.)
  • My hair will grow back 🙂

Possible Side Effects:

  • Mild nausea/vomitting (although I don’t get the sense that it’s as bad or common as other treatments I’ve been on)
  • Mouth sores
  • Hand-foot syndrome- “Hand-foot syndrome appears on the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet as redness, swelling, rash, pain, tingling or burning sensations, or peeling skin. It appears after 2 or 3 treatment cycles, but may occur earlier.” Yikes.
  • And per usual lowered white/red blood cell counts

We’ll see how it goes. Dr. Robison feels that in terms of quality of life, this is our best option right now.


 

Like I said earlier, I don’t have an impassioned statement that starts with “against all odds…” and ends with “AND I’LL BEAT THIS!”

Nah…

I’ll wrap this up with a reminder from my mother that we don’t know how the story ends. We just keep walking, one foot in front of the other. And we don’t necessarily know where we’re going. We just go. Taking every minute as it comes even when we are exhausted to our core.

What my tired yet hopeful self knows to be true on this four year anniversary….

Four years later, you still cry it out when the pain overwhelms you.

Four years later, you accept help when you know you only have so much to give.

Four years later, you hug your loved ones a little tighter and lean into that shining light.

Four years later, you try your hardest to absorb the pleasure in what most fulfills your soul.

Most importantly-

 

Four eventful and uncertain years later, the best case scenario holds true- you’re still here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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13 thoughts on “Remember, remember the 23rd of November

  1. I remember that day so well and said to your Mom, ‘Take this one day at a time putting one foot in front of the other’ and she and you will get through this! And here it is FOUR years and a ‘zillion’ bad and good steps later and YOU’RE STILL HERE with us! And that’s how you do it. You cheer when you can and cry when you must and continue forward with all the LOVE that surrounds you. Happy Thanksgiving to you Jessica. We are all grateful that you are still with us. I know I am! Big Hugs and Much Love To You.

  2. Jessica, your profound use of language makes me understand more of what you are going through. It sounds awful, but I know you will continue your fight! You don’t strike me as one who quits! It is hard. We all appreciate your fight and thank you for keeping us clued in.
    We love you, Jessica, and I keep imagining you kicking this thing in its ass!!!! We are all thinking of you!
    ❤️

  3. Hang in there, Jess! We ARE still here with our loved ones and those bad days can’t take those special moments away from us. You are in my thoughts always. X

  4. Hugs and Love — Jess. Hanging with you girlfriend —through thick and thin — know so many are with you in our every-way – everyday we can be! Prayers, per the day and continued throughout the days ahead —know we are still here with you.

  5. This so beautifully describes this awful time. Thank you so much for sharing your heart. I would like to share this with a group of survivors who I’m working with through my yoga studio. Miss seeing your bright face.

  6. Jess, we hate to hear that you are going through another challenging time but we are so glad that you share both good and bad with all of us. Although we wish we could help in a bigger way, please know that you are in our thoughts and prayers each and every day. Hoping that you are feeling lots better very soon!

  7. Jess, I remember that day so well Kelly and I were out shopping when she got your call, she had to leave the store and sit outside. But 4 years later you are still kicking cancers ass. We love you. 💜 💜 ~ Karyn

  8. 11/23 Remembrances, Warrior Jessica, Thank G-d for the, “Christopher Robins!” Eeyore may leave so that you may experience a true, lasting reanimated body and spirit!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. Four crazy long years and you are still hanging in “that super hero stuff” and you’re mom is right. One foot in front of the other held on my the love and light that surrounds you as the woman you are …. amazing! don’t’ ever forget it.

  10. By reading your “Chronicles” and all these replies, validates that you are a loving, courageous woman. Hopeful that this new procedure will help resolve all your agony. Greg and I have you in our prayers. You have been truly blessed with such wonderful parents.

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