Cancer. That small word has been a such a huge part of my life for almost 1 year now. My life changed in so many more ways than imaginable and so many of those changes I would have never understood from the outside looking in. Cancer leaves you empty and feeling alone even while surrounded by loved ones. The feeling of alone is not just a physical feeling but also a mental feeling. Not knowing how to to others what you feel because half of the time you yourself don’t know how you feel or the fact of you said out loud what you truly feel than you will feel like such a downer. No one wants to be around someone who is constantly complaining or who is depressed. I have never been one to dump my load onto others so to say. So why would I start now? Besides when you look for the things to be happy about and change your perspective you actually aren’t as miserable as you had once felt. My situation was not a good one but, it could have been worse. Who was I to need to know why when their are children diagnosed with cancer and other life threatening diseases daily. Diseases that they can not beat. I found peace in the fact that this was curable. No one said it would be easy but, possible. Cancer was going to take so much of me temporarily but my life wasn’t something I wanted to give!
After deciding I wanted surgery first so I could just get this nasty stuff out of my body I then had to decide which surgery was best for my situation. I decided on a double mastectomy with reconstruction. I was diagnosed at the end of October and had to quit smoking for at least 3 weeks before I could undergo the surgery. That was my first huge challenge. To quit smoking at one of the most stressful times of my life seemed almost impossible but I did it and the day after Christmas I went in for surgery and to have my port for chemo placed.
Surgery was successful and I had awesome surgeons who did an amazing job. I healed much faster than some they said but honestly I give them all of the credit. 6 to 8 weeks was the amount of time after surgery that we had discussed to start chemo but in the situation that I was healing and recovering so great I was given the option to go ahead and begin chemo after 5 weeks. I wasn’t ready that is for sure but is that even possible? Can one ever prepare themselves to be ready to start chemo?
When diagnosed with cancer I was told this path was going to be a long one. I was looking at almost a year and a half with treatment and surgery. So every month, week or even day I took off of that to me was one day closer to getting my life back. When I went in for my first red devil treatment I was given more choices Always have choices. All of which seem so overbearing. Like a huge load just dumped. I had been so overwhelmed with decisions and knowing if what I decided was the best. This next decision I was given was to take my ac chemo treatments (red devil) every other week instead of every 3 weeks like we had spoken about in the beginning. Most people take them every 3 weeks because this chemo is one of the stronger chemos and that extra week is needed in there to build your body back up to go back and do it all over again. If I did the every other week I would knock off a month of this round. That sounded amazing. So I did it. With ac (red devil) I felt nauseous more than I didn’t and as hard as it is to understand, the only thing that settled my stomach was eating. And for the most part most food didn’t sound very good. But junk food was life. I woke up all hours of the night and munched on chips or brownies or whatever was my go to that week. By the end of my ac treatments I had gained a whopping 35 pounds. Weighing more than I ever have in my entire life. I felt disgusted and plain yucky. I just felt like I was in the wrong body.
This was about the time I learned that that body, that me is gone. Instead of wishing for her back it was time to let to live as the new me. Which had been and even still is one of the hardest parts of this. To accept yourself and be happy with who you are instead of picking every last flaw.
Next I was ready for round 2 of cheml. I was supposed to have 12 weekly taxol treatments. And guess what?? Being in such good health I was given the option to again shorten this time span. I could go every other week and do 3 n 1 dense doses. Making it only 8 weeks instead of 12. Taxol has many long and short term effects some of which I still suffer from 4 months out. But I was told the risks were all the same either way I took my treatment and would take the same amount of time regardless of how I spread it out. So being a person who is not so fond of having her port accessed and doing chemo I chose the 4 biweekly treatments. Taxol did stop my junk food craving. I lost a few pounds during this round. The bone and muscle pain was my biggest complaint and the neuropathy that started at the end and hasnt yet gone away. But treeI conquered that round too!!
After a 3 week much needed break from cancer treatment and doctors I was ready to start radiation. That brings us to where I currently am. Being my cancer had spread radiation was a must for my treatment plan. I was given the largest amount which was 37 days. As of today I have completed 34!!
As I am days from completing this part of treatment I can say chemo for me was almost easier. But again it’s a toss up I havent felt like getting out 90% of the time but I do it anyways. Every bit of this whole last year has been such a blur as I look back. Radiation is daily. I think that takes a lot out of a person going daily to a treatment center over an hour away. The drive alone will wear anyone out. Not to mention I have so many side effects still hanging from chemo, new side effects from radiation and more side effects from begging medical menopause. All of which have made me a emotional wreck. irrational thoughts, anxiety, insomnia are just a few of the newer side effects I have suffered. Not to mention that some of my favorite foods and drinks taste terrible Some days all food is terrible. Through radiation I have lost almost 20 pounds but I am wondering if that will go right back on due to the medical menopause state. Weight gain, depression,.mood swings, hot flashes, night sweats insomnia and headaches are just a few of the known side effects of which l have been facing. So with my luck the weight gain won’t be far behind.
But now that I have gotten so far I wonder, when am I “cancer free”? When is it legit to say I beat cancers ass? When treatment is over? (3 days) After my next surgeries? (1 year) After the hormone pills and injections for medical menopause? (7 to 10 years) Regardless I am so blessed to have made it this far. Some fight a much worse battle and are even slapped with an expected amount of time that they have left. I feel blessed that I caught this before it was too late.
Reoccurrence is always a cancers patients worse nightmare. I pray that this medical menopause is not a waste of time and that it does help block my chances and I keep a clear slate for the next decade! But mean while I hope everyone gets used to my medical menopausal state. The unannounced mood swings. Crying for no reason ssomedays while getting mad at the drop of a needle on others.
I have made it so far. What seemed impossible a few months ago is now in my past and that’s exactly where I am ready to put cancer! The sooner the better!!