mixed. but good. i think. (by Laurie)

March 10, 2011

And I’m not talking about the weather, which while it has been mixed, has been pretty consistently bad for the last twenty four hours. We had a big dump of snow (the photo above was taken from my front door), followed by freezing rain, which will be followed by ordinary rain.
Good thing I just bought rain boots.

My GP called me last week to let me know the results of my endoscopy (I won’t get in to see the gastroenterologist until March 21st). All my results were negative – no celiac, no bacterial infection, no cancer. It’s all good.

Then I talked to my oncologist on Friday. We discussed my scope results and my digestive symptoms (diarrhea, heartburn, abdominal pain). He expressed surprised that I was still feeling lousy on Friday after a Tuesday treatment. I told him that my recovery time had gone from four to six days and that last round, I’d felt sick for a week (this ended up being the case this time, too).

Then my oncologist said, “It’s time to take a break.”

I was floored.

I had been hoping to hear these words for months (years even) but when I finally did, I definitely had a mixed reaction. I’m being taken off the chemotherapy not because I’ve been in remission for a while (although I have) but because the chemo has started to take too big a toll on my body.

As Dr. G. said, “You can’t stay on vinorelbine forever.”
I’m going to continue with the Herceptin but take a break from the chemo for at least three months. Herceptin is also known to induce flu-like symptoms but I don’t think it has the lasting toxicity of chemotherapy drugs. I’m likely to bounce back more quickly after treatments.

So we’ll see what happens. There are no guarantees of anything and no promises. Every change involves risk.

But the next few months will be devoted to healing.

Cross-posted from Not Just About Cancer.

Hokey Pokey

November 10, 2010

November 10, 2010 By clergygirl Leave a Comment (Edit)

I feel sometimes like I’ve got one foot in cancer and one foot out.  Like I’m doing the hokey pokey and my body can’t decide which it wants to be.  And just for good measure, about once every six months I need a little shaking up just to remind myself I am never fully ever going to be free of cancer.  Not that my body will never be free, but my mind and my fears will never be free.

I live in reality of being a cancer survivor daily. 

Not that I don’t go hours or days without cancer on my mind, but most days I will have a cancer thought brush my reality.  Just a little nudge to remind me the shadow is still there.

So my brush with reality last week came in the form of a pain in my right side in my lower rib area.  I let three days of this pain go by before I called to see the doc.  I probably should have waited longer, but, there again, I let my mind wander to all the “what ifs.” 

My doctor ordered a CT Scan. 

After being entirely open about my cancer journey I’ve felt a bit timid about saying anything publicly here because, quite frankly, I’m even tired of myself and my little cancer scares.  I, quite frankly would like to lose weight (which I have been) and ENJOY it, rather than freak, because….what if I’m losing weight for another reason….gasp! 

It reminds me that I am clinging to something that is so temporary rather living in the fullness of God and His faithfullness.

Because I’m not really scared of dying.  I’m actually more scared of leaving behind the ones that I love. 

I spend a lot of time, too much time, thinking about what would happen to my children if my cancer came back.  Because chances are really good if it came back as metastasized cancer that it would eventually consume me. 

And I always joke that if Jeremy is left to take care of the kids their teeth will rot out of their head because he will never remember to tell them to brush their teeth.  But the truth is that I just took Elijah to the dentist and he has a mouth full of cavities not unlike my older two, so it’s not like I’m the queen of the pearly whites. 

But I want to be the one to brush their teeth, and help pick out their prom dress, and snuggle with them, and remind them how much I love them and how completely special and unique they are despite their imperfections.

I wouldn’t mind retiring in Florida with Jeremy either.

And just to end on a positive note, because I’m afraid this is sounding far to sad.  My mom, my sister and my MIL are all in “the know” about my pain in the side and my CT scan, so I think they get in cahoots together to call me and text me every hour until I have the results, and you know those techs aren’t allowed to give you any kind of clue whatsoever, and I try people, I really try.  I say things like “just as long as the cancer isn’t back,” just to see if they look sad as I leave.  But this kind woman didn’t give me anything to go on.  At least when I was diagnosed they sent me straight for a biopsy and I knew something was up.

But nothing.  Just a smile.

So my MIL tells me today thatshe has announced to her class (she substitutes) that she is keeping her phone on because her daughter-in-law who has had breast cancer had some tests and she needs to know how the test results came out and that when they hear the phone ring she will need to look and see if it’s me (never mind that I won’t know for at least a few days).  So how cute is this…..every time the phone rings those rowdy high school kids all get together and start saying “shh” and “quiet, Mrs. Brown’s phone is ringing” and she says the class gets completely quiet and they get really serious.  Which I find strangely sweet from a bunch of high schoolers I don’t know. 

And it’s never me on the phone because I don’t know the results yet, and may have to wait a WHOLE second weekend of “what if” before I get the answer.

But I figure, between last spring when I had the bone scan and the lung x-ray, and the time before that when I had the MRI to confirm the lumps in my armpit were in fact just hardened fat from reconstruction and now a CT Scan of my abdomen, I will be assured my cancer is gone…..

Wait, there’s still the brain. 


“But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” (James 1:6)

So I’m tired of being tossed around by cancer.  I’m tired of being shaken up like the hokey pokey.  I’m tired of feeling like I’m shaking the ones I love.   I don’t believe the hokey pokey is where it’s at.  Do you?  I mean, unless your doing it with your kids and fully living, and I guess then it would be absolutely 100% acceptable.  Maybe even encouraged.

Here’s believing I’m living fully in the presence of God today, and even tomorrow, cancer or no cancer

missed milestones (by Laurie)

December 3, 2009

This  year, two dates –  November 24th (the anniversary of my diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer) and December 2nd (the anniversary of the night I found the first lump) – came and went without causing me the anxiety of previous years. I noted both events in passing, took the time to breathe deeply and be grateful, and then got on with my day.

It’s been four years since I found the lump. It’s been three since the cancer spread to my liver. And it’s been two and a half years since my first clean scan.

I had an appointment with my oncologist yesterday. I had nothing to tell him. He said, “Shall we keep dragging you in here every few months just to say ‘hi’?”

I readily agreed.

I have chemo next week. They’ve been building a new treatment centre for what seems like years. I have often jokingly pointed in the direction of the new building and said, “They’re building that for me.”

Yesterday, I discovered that the new building is open and the chemo room has been moved. No more listening to the sounds of construction during treatment. No more listening to the intimate details of the constitutional issues of the patient beside me. There will be a little more light and a little more room and hopefully, a little less noise.

I’m kind of excited.

And yes, that is somewhat ironic. I have lived long enough to be excited about getting chemo in the new building.

my husband’s chest

November 11, 2009

You don’t need to tell me how lucky I am.

I have a roof over my head, great medical care and I’m surrounded by people who love me.

And don’t think I forget how very lucky I am to be alive at all. Why did I get to go into remission? Why me? I am indeed very fortunate.

But there are times when I do feel sad that I will never put this cancer behind me. I feel the toll ongoing treatment takes on my body and my emotional well being.

So last night I stood in my kitchen, with my head on my husband’s chest (we say we were built for each other. My head lands flat on his chest and tucks under his chin). He put his arms around me and we just stood there, breathing together.

He didn’t need to say anything. He understood my frustration. Only a few hours before I was finallly feeling sharp and healthy and energized. And then, after chemo, I stood in his arms, feeling sick and more than a little shaky.

He didn’t remind me how lucky I am.

But I know it.

aware of the irony

November 9, 2009

Life is funny.

This morning was perfect weather for a bike ride. The sun was out and the temperature climbed to 17C (that’s 62.6 in American). It was my first time on the bike in more than a week – since before the plague toppled my family, like a series of dominoes.

It was a fun ride, and I didn’t even mind the big hill I have to climb on my way to the hospital. I arrived twenty minutes after I set out, a little sweaty and with my heart pumping. As I locked up and headed into the cancer centre, I noted with pleasure that I hadn’t been coughing.

“It feels good to be healthy.”

I very nearly said it out loud.

I was suddenly struck by the absurdity of my situation. Here I was, going to get my bloodwork done the day before chemo and thinking about how healthy I am.

Three years ago, at almost exactly this time of year, I learned that my cancer had become metastatic. I don’t think I could have imagined this day, when I’d be riding my bike up Smythe Rd. and thinking about how healthy I am.

So, as I was saying at the beginning of this post – life really is pretty funny.

Cross-posted to Not Just About Cancer.