Phase Three

Phase three for me is radiation. While I do not yet know all the details, I do know that I will have treatments five days per week for a minimum of six weeks; 384 miles away from home.

I learned many years ago through struggles and heartache to live like I was dying. I don’t know when I began to live that way I just know it’s been many years. I don’t even have a bucket list. When I was flying home earlier this week I was seated next to a gentleman and we talked and he said, I bet you don’t even have a bucket list. I hadn’t really thought about it much. Yes, the thought has crossed my mind, I just never put a whole lot of thought in to it.

I told him, “Nope, I am not going to live with that kind of pressure.” My bucket list would be expensive. First of all it would be things like a trip to Disney World with the kids, a Jamaican vacation with the man of my dreams (or my kids being as there is no such man) skating with my boys and an NHL team.

To fulfill those dreams would cost a crazy amount of money. I am unemployed; I do not have a spouse or significant other who supports me. I can’t even keep my light bill paid without the generosity of the people around me. There is no way I could even begin to plan a week in Florida. So I don’t think that big.

I think about things like how am I going to pay for my next trip to Rochester to begin radiation. I will have gas ($150) plus approximately a week of hotel rooms ($300 – I stay at place that caters to patients and charges less than a normal hotel) then I will be able to move in to Hope Lodge through the American Cancer Society which is free housing during treatments.

My radiation will be Monday through Friday and although I would love to return home on weekends, I just don’t see it being financially possible. The cost of my first week will eat up all available funds I have for the entire month of August (and it won’t even be August yet).

Ya, I won’t be going back on weekends. All of my household bills through August will be paid before I head south. That will be one less thing to worry about. I just know I will have no extra money at all while I am there; it’s a mindset I have to get in to. No eating out, no entertainment, no shopping. It’s not easy, just necessary.

Don’t you hate it when you actually put things down on paper only to realize just how it can’t work out the way you planned? Kind of depressing.

Reality Isn’t Always Nice

A couple weeks ago I over an hour with the oncologist. Lots of information and I almost felt sorry for the resident he had with him today as the kid looked more lost than I did! lol

Today was a big talk about numbers and recurrence and the like. With no further treatment, my five year disease free survival rate is 50%. That means if I stopped everything right now, I have a 50% chance that over the next five years, the cancer would return. To decrease the chances of it coming back we have options. Best case scenario, with every current, relevant, available treatment brings me close to a 20% chance that over the next 5 years the cancer will return. This doesn’t mean that if it doesn’t come back in the next five years that I am considered safe or free; just a little better off.

Thankfully with breast cancer research being so aggressive, who knows what will be available in the next five years to increase my odds even more. When people ask me I honestly tell them that my prayer is to make it through Carson’s graduation. Honestly I am beyond blessed to make it through each day; the boys’ gradutaion would just be icing on the cake.

I spoke with the funeral director back home when I was there last week. He shares my same twisted sense of humor so it was nice to have a sit down chat with him. We discussed a few things (like the fact that if I am laid in a casket my feet MUST be crossed!). We talked about transporting my body across the border and he agreed it would be cheaper to cremate me here and ship me home in the mail.

Anyway, back to reality and what it means for my immediate future.

  1. I am cleared to restart the drug Herceptin which I will take for a total of 52 weeks. I have completed 12 weeks so far. This will be an injection (through my port) every three weeks until the 52 weeks are complete.
  2. I will be meeting with radiation oncology to start radiation. Likely five or six weeks of daily radiation. Right now they are booked out until July 27 for the diagnostic/referal of radiation oncology. My medical oncologist is working to get me slipped in sooner.
  3. I will begin another drug which will help to prevent recurrance. I will take this drug every day for five or ten years.
  4. I will also begin an ovary supressing drug that will be an injection every month. This is decrease the amount of estrogen available for my cancer to feed off of.

I was hoping I would hear the words ‘remission’ but of course those words did not (nor will they ever) come. I will never be in remission from this beast. I am officially in a life long battle for my life. I almost felt sorry for the doctor explaining this reality to me…he looked heartbroken. I told him it was ok, I expected that and that I just needed to hear the words.

I will forever have cancer, I will be considered cancer free when I move from this life to eternity. It’s really tough to be sad when thinking about eternity. I will be healed, I will have no more treatments, I will no longer be at war, I will  see my four babies who have passed before me, I will see my grandfathers again. A lady who recently passed due to cancer put it wonderfully. She wasn’t afraid to die, she just didn’t want to. She felt like a little girl at a party and Dad was there to pick her up and she was crying because she didn’t want to leave.

When the Lord calls me home, that’s how it will be; like my Father is picking me up from the hockey rink and I know he’s taking me to A & W which will be amazing and fun, but I’m no where near ready to get off the ice. My kids are on the ice…

So we will continue to be thankful for everyday. I will continue to shout from the rooftops how amazing God is and how great this life he has given me. I am not afraid to fight. I am not afraid to die. I am confident that His plan is best. That my children will be held through the loving embrace of those who love them.

Psalm 23A psalm of David.

1 The Lord is my shepherd;
I have all that I need.
2 He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
3     He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to his name.
4 Even when I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
protect and comfort me.
5 You prepare a feast for me
in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.
6 Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord
forever.

Kinda tough to be upset when that’s my courage, my strength, my peace.

…Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, you are with me…

I am genuinely am getting though this battle with such a positive outlook because I do feel Him beside me. I am in the valley of the shadow of death and I’m not afraid.

Lost

I am sorry for the lack of posting on here. I keep a CaringBridge page since being diagnosed and I update it every few days. I worry about posting on two blogs at once as this one is pretty anonymous, I’m afraid I might give too many details and somebody would figure out who I am and then the blog would get in to the wrong hands…

I am finished chemo and had a skin-sparing left mastectomy. I’m doing well as are the kiddos.

I’ve decided that cancer doesn’t have to suck…it can even be enjoyed. Truly. It is much easier than divorce or even the death of a loved one.

FEAR sucks, cancer doesn’t have to. Cancer is no worse than having depression in my eyes. BOTH can kill you if they really wanted to.

My keyboard keeps skipping all over…making it hard to think and type at the same time. I will come back later to clarify my point.

Today it Becomes Real

Today, after work and school, the boys and I are going to the hair salon. B2 is getting a haircut he so desperately needs, B1 needs one but isn’t getting one. I am getting my head shaved.

Today it becomes real and tangible and visible that Mom has cancer…and B1 is afraid. It’s one step closer to the end of the journey for me, to him it is reality slapping him in the face…HARD.

We went for some Mom and Me time last night…we both got pedicures and had an absolute blast just being silly and caring and serious, and just being US.

I am trying to make the best of a shitty situation…for all of us. I am also trying to make it less scary for them. I also have to make sure I respect each of their fears, their thought processes, their ages, their concerns…it’s not easy.

B2 is super excited about helping to shave my head. B1 is hating that it even has to be done…I have to be the mom to both kids…and sometimes in the exact same minute…enjoying it with one, and mourning with the other.

So…today it becomes real.