Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Just Keep Swimming

5 down, 3 to go. Lord does it feel good to be on the back 9.

It seems like forever since my last post. A lot has happened in the last 2 weeks, some great, some not so great. Let's start off with the great, shall we? I'm still amazed at how many people are reaching out to me. Every week I'm getting cards in the mail and friends are dropping off books and bath salts. One of our closest friend's mom even invited us up to her cabin for the weekend because she knew we needed a break. It was so thoughtful to offer us a chance to get out of the city. We spent the weekend in the most idyllic setting. This cabin isn't so much a cabin as it is a 4 bedroom house right on a lake. And it's not exactly roughing it when you're traveling with 2 honest to goodness Chefs. Also, our friend's older daughters were with us so we had live in babysitters for Lyla all weekend long. I can honestly say it was the first time I've felt really relaxed since all of this started. I treated myself to some wine and had good long chats with one of my closest girlfriends, hung out in the sun with all the kids, sat in the shade and read my book. It was such a nice break to be outside of the walls that more and more remind me of being sick.

The timing couldn't have been more perfect. I'd had a rough week news-wise at the cancer agency. First it started with my consultation with my radiation oncologist. He was a perfectly nice man, spent a generous amount of time with me, and answered all of my questions. He was also dire. There's no other way to describe it. It felt like such a long time since I'd met a new doctor who was reviewing my file for the first time. There were too many sad looks, too many sympathetic nods. At one point when we were going over all the side effects he told me that although some are potentially quite serious (another cancer for example) that in my case I simply didn't have a choice. Radiation is "necessary for my survival" were his exact words.

Now I'm not sure if this falls into "Am I not taking this seriously enough?" category, but the term "survival" seemed a bit drastic to me. Was that in question?? And by the way, I didn't need the hard sell. I know there are a lot of people who, for very different reasons, refuse treatments. I'm not one of them. Can someone please update my chart with "Patient believes in modern medicine - no need for scare tactics"?!?! I was still busy absorbing this sentence when we got to the physical exam. More serious eyes and nods. He honed in right on the thing that still worries me the most and reminded me that we're still dealing with something over 5cm and that we're halfway through chemo. So he tells me that he's ordering not 4 weeks of radiation, but 6 and a half weeks instead. That's all the way through December...

Dear Cancer,

Apparently you don't respond well to polite letters. F.U. then.


So needless to say, I was already bummed out when I went back to my medical oncologist the very next day for my regularly scheduled check up. He brought out his fancy measuring device and there was no more shrinkage. He reassured me that's why it was already planned to switch things up. Often times people can plateau on one kind of chemo or another. Ok fine. But could I please plateau with maybe just 1 cm left, not 5?

Don't get me wrong. I know no one's handed me a death sentence or anything. And like I keep telling myself, things could be a lot worse. But I have to say, I was getting used to the good news. I handled the first four rounds of chemo like a champ. I was, and still am, encouraged by how much progress we'd made. Then suddenly, I'm right back at the beginning. Back in the office of a doctor that doesn't know me, and hearing all the information of my case that reminds me that my diagnosis was serious - serious as cancer.

So off I went for my first round of the new cocktail today, feeling nervous yet resigned. The only other woman in the room with me still had all her hair and her shiny new folder stuffed with dozens of pamphlets. It instantly reminded me of that moment you get at work after being in a new job for a while. That conference call when all of a sudden you realize that the balance of experience has shifted. I love it when I go from being the person with all of the questions to the person who can answer them. I looked at this woman who, to her credit, looked like she was taking this all in stride, and felt like saying, "Ask away". Instead I just smiled and wished her luck when she left. She was alone in the room and I didn't want to run the risk of upsetting her. And then, once again, I felt so lucky to have Corey with me. I've felt a lot of things during the last few months. Alone isn't one of them.

So thanks again to everyone for coming on this ride with me. It makes it a lot easier to fight the lows and the bad news when I know I've got so many people in my corner.It's because of all this support that I find the energy to swim upstream. I'm feeling hopeful about the new plateau fighting chemo I've just started. I'll be sure to let you all know how it goes.

Much love,


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