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