Let's recap shall we?
October 27th, 2011, I was diagnosed with Invasive Lobular Carcinoma, stage II. I had a lumpectomy on November 21st, started chemo on December 22nd, finished chemo on February 28th, started radiation on March 26th, and this Friday May 11th will be my last day of radiation and the end of my more aggressive treatments. Shortly I'll be starting a hormone blocking drug called Tamoxifen, which I'll take every day for the next five years. Puh-lease, piece of cake!
Radiation has gone fairly well for me. My skin held up quite nicely until the last couple of weeks when I developed some sore spots. I've been very religious about applying the lotions they recommend and now wear these gauzy sort of bandages that keep the skin from rubbing off. I know, sounds lovely. Other than this relatively minor side effect and some fatigue, it's been pretty easy. The biggest nuisance is just the time involved. Five days a week for seven weeks started off a bit daunting, but they have things down to such a science that there were days I would leave my car and get back in 12 minutes later. It's been so convenient going to the Providence Regional Cancer Partnership in Everett because it's only about ten minutes from my house and I don't have to pay for parking! The doctor's have been so wonderful and the radiation therapists are all so sweet. Don't get me wrong, I won't miss any of those people. Have a nice life y'all..peace out!!!
So, this leads me to the next question. What the hell happens now?
I haven't really been responding much to phone calls and e-mails lately because I feel a bit out of sorts. When you get a diagnosis like this, you're immediately forced into making major life changing decisions and are consumed by the gobs of information. I also felt such an urgency to connect with people in my life and to cherish every moment. Pretty soon you get into a rhythm. To put it simply, you feel like you are DOING something about it. So much focus is on getting through chemo and just trying to function and feel OK, it keeps your mind occupied. When I finished chemo and had my month off before radiation, I thought my life would go back to normal...yay! Well that's SORT OF what happens, but how could things ever be "normal"? Normal looks very different now and that's kind of a bummer.
I've tried getting back into a routine. Boot camp in the mornings has been harder than I thought it would be, and I'm a big baby about it. I guess I expected to be planking for 20 minutes after my four month hiatus. Um, yeah, NOT happening. I'm up about 15 pounds which Dr. Jiang wants me to lose ASAP. My Radiation Oncologist said not to lose weight so I was very confused (which is another story but don't get me started). I think despite all of these things, my bigger issue is the feeling of powerlessness. I have no control over anything(not that I ever did) but it felt like I did. All the body aches, hair loss, fatigue, etc. were a sign that my body was fighting the disease. Those side effects are gone-even my hair is growing back (which is good), but I want to feel like I'm still fighting.
I had a long conversation with my Radiation Oncologist Dr. Adam about this, and he had some great words of wisdom. First he told me that it could be many months before my body is normal again and not to expect too much. He also told me that there are two things I can do that have absolutely been proven to increase chances of long term survival; exercise and weight control. Okay, that's something I can handle, but do I just move on with my life like nothing ever happened? How will I feel in six months when it's time for my first mammogram? How will I handle the fear? I'm afraid to be afraid...ha!
Last week I was having a particularly emotional day, voicing my frustration with my body and my fears about the future. Jeff listened and summed things up rather nicely. I'm paraphrasing here but the gist of what he said was this: Cancer has been a chapter in the book of my life. I can't go back to old chapters and relive them, and I can't skip ahead and write the new chapters. I have to address each chapter as it comes and find peace in that. Very true Jeffrey, very true.
I hope this doesn't sound like whining at all because I am SO grateful to be where I am. I know I'm lucky to be alive and to have made it through this in good condition and with a very good prognosis for survival.
I guess Friday I'll be turning another page in the book and moving on to the next chapter. Better be a good one!!!!