Monday, March 25, 2013
I have received several messages and calls from so many of you wondering how I have been doing and checking to see if I have started chemo yet. Thank you for your faithful concern. The reason for the long delay is that I have been fighting an infection in the surgery site that has left me feeling pretty blah. I also had a 15 year old birthday to sneak in there this last week. Thank you for your patience.
Many of you know that I met with my oncologist late Friday afternoon for the first time. She is new to our area and my primary Dr. thought I would really connect well with her. Something about her being chatty like me. I don't know what he's talking about. I consider myself to be a very quiet private person... when I am sleeping. He was correct! She was great and I did really like her. She was very thorough and gave plenty of details even making sure I realized why I was there... For chemo treatments. She explained that she actually had women who came in to see her not realizing they were there to discuss chemotherapy. I assured her I was there for the full meal deal, including the fries.
I will begin with this week as it is full of appointments. I am anticipating being in to see the Dr. this afternoon to get this lingering infection taken care of. I hope to be switching antibiotics and then of course he will want to drain the site again and for a change, I am actually really looking forward to that relief. It builds up a lot of pressure and then that starts causing pain. Really, it's almost as much fun as child birth except you don't get a reward at the end. Maybe I need to have a Blizzard after each fun and exciting treatment. This means I might need another Blizzard Wednesday afternoon as he will probably want to drain it again before surgery on Thursday.
Tomorrow, I go in for a baseline ecocardiogram so they know what my heart function looks like on a normal day so that when they begin to pump me full of the different chemo drugs they have something to compare it with. A few of these drugs can potentially cause damage to my heart. This initial test allows them to monitor that closely.
Wednesday, I will learn about the chemo procedure. They hold teaching sessions to give you information on the actual process and then they re-discuss the potential side effects and ways to minimize these. I think I have this part pretty well figured out. In order to minimize the hair loss, cut it off before it falls out. Problem solved! During this appointment I will also be getting my actual schedule for chemo treatments.
Thursday morning, I will be having the port surgery. It is a much shorter procedure than the lumpectomy, but still he prefers to do it while I am under. This port allows them access to my veins without having to start IV's every other week or so for the next year. This is a small piece about the size of a pop bottle top that is inserted under my skin and has several inches of tubing threaded into my vein. There is a potential risk of puncturing the top of my lung so would pray that God would direct the Dr.s hand for this procedure.
Next week begins chemo. I don't have that actual date yet. That is the schedule I will be getting on Wednesday. The first set of drugs will be given once every two weeks for 4 treatments. Now moms, you know how you tell your kids to eat their veggies first or to eat whatever they don't like first cause then it's done? well that is how this goes. This first round is my celery, mushroom, liver and tofu all glopped together. It is the toughest group. This is the hair stealing bunch. The good news is that once this 8 weeks is over, it will start growing back.
Round two will last 12 weeks with once a week infusions. During this time they will also begin the year long treatment of Herceptin injections.
Once the chemo treatments are over, there will be a two week break to get set up and switch gears to start the 7 weeks of daily radiation. There will be a hormone therapy that I will be taking for the next 5 years after that is completed, so this is indeed a journey. With just the chemo and radiation I am looking at finishing sometime in November if all goes as planned.
It was interesting on Friday. I had been given the opportunity to have some extra hours of teaching time at our school so I took them knowing it would help out with expenses, but not realizing how I would be feeling with the infection. I spent a couple of hours at our school Friday morning with the kids, ran home and packed for the weekend hoping the Dr. would say I could buzz over to Spokane for a quick trip. In between the teaching and heading to the Dr at 2:30, I tried to lay down for 30 mins. By the time I was with my friend and heading to the appointment, I was feeling off to say the least. I was carrying the weight of work, life, finances, treatments, wondering if I would be allowed to travel, and then just normal things and couldn't seem to shake it. And on top of that I was tired and didn't feel well. I apologized to my friend and said I wasn't good company that afternoon. She was very gracious and understanding.
When my time with the Dr. had concluded, they took us back out front to schedule the other appointment times. As we were sitting there, I realized something had happened during the last hour and a half. The worry, and weight of life had not only disappeared, it had been completely replaced by peace and calm. I explained to my friend it was as if God said, "Don't worry. You still have cancer and I am still right here with you." Now I realize that even as I write this, that sounds terribly off and I am sure that as you read it you feel that same catch and wonder "is she saying she is glad she has cancer?" No, I am not glad that I have cancer. I wouldn't wish this on anyone. But God has chosen to make himself abundantly real to me through this experience as a couple of you who have walked this road before me, assured me he would. There is a sweetness in this presence I have never experienced before and wouldn't trade for anything. It empowers me to move forward and to fight this ugly cancer with everything that I am.
My clippers and hats are ready. I have my bad ass cancer chick attitude in place and I fight knowing I am not alone. You, my friends and family, have made it abundantly clear that you are here with me, even if it's through stalking me on face book (you know who you are, wink wink ) and I am so grateful. This was not the winter, spring, summer, or fall I had planned, but I have a feeling that when it's over I will be one step closer to who I am supposed to become. I will have compassion that runs deeper, I will have empathy that is gentler, I will have love that is bolder, and I will have life that is richer and more meaningful than it is even now. Please be patient with me along this journey as I may be tired and crabby. I might not feel like talking, which might be a relief to some of you, but rest assured I will be fighting and I will win!
You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.