On this last day of Breast Cancer Awareness Month I took a break from doing laundry to find this inspiring article sent to me by Rich. I love reading other women's stories of survival. It makes me realize I am not alone and encourages me to strive harder in life.
I know anyone that reads my blogs probably thinks I am a whiner, but the truth is I am far from that. I let my pain out on my blog to keep me from exploding. I talk with new cancer patients quite often to offer my own encouragement to them.
In my livejournal I have been more open about my ups and downs though I don't really write in there anymore. I try my best to write my thoughts down to one day put together a book. On this last day of awareness I am pasting a few livejournal entries. Each on a different level to show the range of emotions that go along with this disease.
music: Dream Theater _ This Dying Soul
I am slowly beginning to despise going into that IV therapy room. I've transformed from someone going in with a smile on my face trying to bring good energy and hope to such a bleak depressing atmosphere, to someone who just wants to forget where she is for a few hours.
I'd always bring a book and never get any reading done because I would talk to the people around me. Now I bring my CD player and book or even my portable DVD player and get lost in a movie. Rarely talking to anyone, blocking out the pain, misery and life being sucked out of everyone around me.
Luckily today no one was moaning or throwing up. One of my favorite nurses brought me in and I got settled in my recliner as she went to get my IV bags. She came back and said there was an order for full blood work on me. As she accessed my port that is surgically embedded under my skin above my right breast, she asked me what was going on. I told her about the health problems I've been having and all the tests I've been going through. I wanted to cry but when she was done and I was hooked up, I put my headphones on and relaxed laying back in my chair. I had my beloved Jekyll and Hyde CD in from the Broadway musical. My mind wandered in so many directions and my eyes kept watering. I fought off tears over and over again. I decided I was to emotional for J&H since it is so close in my heart.
As I was changing CD's, I noticed the elderly man across from me wanted to chat. He was telling me he only had 5 more treatments to go and he had enjoyed his experience because the people are so great. I have to admit, the nurses there are awesome. They keep us giggling and are very sincere in their concern for everyone. He asked how much longer I had with my therapy, I could tell he had been listening to me talk to the nurse. I answered "for the rest of my life". He looked surprised and then sad. One of the nurses made a joke about how I took up residence there. I see people come and go. Some people making it through treatment successfully and we have mini parties for them by popping bubble wrap and cheering them on. Some I watch progressively fading each time I see them until they finally pass on.
The gentleman was finished with his treatment and on his way. I was feeling the need to block out the world again. I had forgotten my book and didn't feel like watching only part of a movie since I now only had a little less than an hour left. I changed CD's and put in Dream Theater. I laid my head back and closed my eyes. My mind again raced to things I didn't want to think about. I opened my eyes and stared at the bag hanging above me watching it drip over and over again, amazed that 2 bags that look like nothing more than water could cost $2000.
Even through the music blasting in my ears I could hear the man next to me snoring loudly. I turned and starting looking around the room at the different faces. The recliners are set up in a long circle. No one looked happy, just bleak, blank expressions. Many were asleep. There were colorful afghans covering almost everyone because it is always so frigid cold in that place. Having Dream Theater setting the tone it was almost morbidly amusing to watch what was going on around me.
I was finally done. I watched the last few drips with anticipation. The nurse flushed my port, removed the needle and I was on my way. The drive home I almost felt numb, my mind almost blank. When I walked in the door of my home I broke down and cried.
hit by a truck...
... that's what I feel like. I got yet another call that an old friend has cancer. This makes 4 women I will now be consoling and trying to help them keep a positive outlook in the past few months. One of them, Donna, is dying. She was there for me 8 years ago when I went through my first battle. One day last year she showed up in the chemotherapy room as I was hooked up to IV's and they hooked her up right next to me. I held her hand as she cried and told me how they came to find her cancer that started in her bladder. I don't think she has stopped crying since. She has not been able to let go of the fear and focus on self healing. Her sister calls me in complete frustration about the fact that she does nothing but lay on the couch and cry day in and day out. Her cancer showed clear for a short time but returned with a vengeance. I tried to help... I feel like I have failed her. She said she wished she was as brave as I am. I'm not brave... this fucking disease scares the hell out of me! I fight the fear every day of my life.
Now I found out today that Arlene has it back. Our son's played baseball together the year my cancer came back. We would have long talks about it. She had breast cancer and chose to have a lumpectomy along with chemo. She often wondered if it was enough. Apparently it wasn't. She too found a lump in her neck just like I did. It has spread through her lymph nodes. But hers went a step farther. She has a spot on her lungs. It's really weird because I've lost touch with her and her hubby and I ran into him twice about a month ago. We had fun chats and caught up with what was going on in our lives. Weird coincidence that we got comfortable with each other again now that this has happened. My friend Lori that called me today told me she believes this is what I am meant to do. The chemo nurses have said the same thing to me. What exactly I am supposed to be doing is unclear to me. But knowing these 4 women have seeked my advice, my comfort, and my positive energy still amazes me because in my mind I am still so lost.
I need to write more often, but just can't get focused.
I had a great time in Las Vegas. It was like being in "naughty" Disney World. I'm definitely going to try to squeeze a trip in this next year... I wanna go back! Maybe I'll look into taking the kids to the Grand Canyon and staying in Vegas for a day or 2 while we are out there. *ponders this idea*
So much is happening with me right now, it's hard to explain... but I feel good about everything. I think I'm starting to see the light at the end of the dark tunnel I've been in for the past few years. (no... not THAT light... lol)
Good close friends are still by my side even though I tried pushing a few away when I was at my lowest points. I actually had a woman I know socially come up to me the other day and tell me how much she admires me. I was in shock. This woman is on the board of everything and lives in a huge $1 million dollar home. I had another friend tell me the same thing a few days later when I ran into her in a store. My confidence level has been boosted ;)
I love life... I always have. I need to dump all these stupid fears and start being the person I am inside. Cancer and depression will not win.
Just a few days before that last entry I posted this ...
I met a woman when I was up at the school the other day. My son's teacher took her back in the office for a conference. A few minutes later the teacher came out and asked if I had a minute to talk. When I went back with her I found out this woman has a similar situation to mine (cancer). She asked if she could have my number. Well she called me today and we talked for about an hour. She wants to get together and have lunch so we can talk more.
Yes, I know most of these entries are from a few years ago. I've been going through this for years. I write in random places when I feel like it. Most of my things are in hand written journals. It has definitely been a journey. I'm very fortunate to have guardian angels, close friends, a supportive family and my dear babies who's love gave me life. All of which I would have never made it this far. I am also thankful for my estranged husband for caring enough to keep me on his health insurance, without which I would be dead. Though Rich wasn't with me in the hardest of times he keeps me sane now and has shown me unconditional support and love.
I look back on the years and could never be able to put into words what this disease does to a mind, body and soul. I've watched people I know wither away and die... some were close friends. I have had survivor guilt, chemo brain and depression. But I have also had many good things that I am very thankful for come from this. I am in remission and thankful for that IV bag of life I get every 4 weeks. The long term meds have taken a serious toll on my body and my health is not great... but I am alive.