Thursday, February 17, 2011

On This Day...

One year ago today, I sat in stunned silence as my oncologist told me that there were new tumors growing in my body.

The year that has passed since February 17, 2010 has been harder than I could have ever imagined it could be. Not one single day has gone by that I have not lived and breathed the reality of cancer. I have been sicker than I ever thought possible. I have had to rely on my friends and family to care for me, and even worse, to care for my children. I've had to try to explain things to my sons that no child should ever have to even think about, let alone live with. I've listened to my husband cry in the middle of the night when he thought I was asleep. I've been poked, cut, prodded, and tested, and I've swallowed hundreds of pills. I've lost my hair. I've lost my dignity. I've lost my confidence.

Today, in a twist of irony, I had another appointment with Dr. M. I was going to find out the results of the CT scan I had on Tuesday and hear his advice on how to proceed with treatment. After several heart-stopping moments where I strained to hear his conversation with Nurse Michelle in the hallway, he entered the exam room and pronounced that no new tumors showed up on the scan. A great deal of back-and-forth ensued. I will spare you the details, but the bottom line is this: I will continue with the cytoxan/Avastin maintenance regimen for a few more months. At the end of that time, I will go for another scan and if all remains unchanged, I will be declared to be in remission and this leg of the cancer journey will be over.

You'd think that with the end in sight, I'd be thrilled, right? Actually, I am terrified. The news on my latest scan is good, no doubt about it. But to me, it's not a sigh of's just a delay of the inevitable. I've been told more than once that the cancer will surely invade my body again. Just because it isn't there now doesn't mean it isn't coming.

Dr. M was prepared to release me from treatment today. He saw things through different lenses than I do, however. He looks at me and sees a challenge, a science experiment, a few dollar signs, and maybe an opportunity. I look in the mirror and see a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend, and a mother. The whole time he talked to me (or sometimes over me) today, all I could see in my mind's eye were my 3 little cowboys. Their faces were so clear, in fact, that I did something a lot of people might think is ridiculous: I chose to continue chemo. I couldn't picture myself tucking my boys into bed at night, knowing that I could have done more to prevent The Sickness from recurring. I've come this far...what's a few more months?

So I will press on. I will do every treatment I can within the time frame I've been given. Cancer is a terrible disease. I hate those abnormal silent cells with everything I have. And February 17th? I don't care for it much, either. But next year, I will be able to look back and remember that this is the day I chose to finish strong.

After the appointment, my mom and I had lunch together. There's nothing worse than crying in a restaurant with people all around you laughing and enjoying their lunches. I am just so sad. Even good scan results feel like a burden to carry. I am well aware that this sounds like a woe-is-me, glass-half-empty kind of narrative. I don't mean it that way at all. In fact, just in the few hours since I saw the doctor, I hugged two friends, laughed with my boys, kissed my husband, talked to my sister, and snuggled my dog. I am blessed beyond measure. It's just that I am at sort of a breaking point with The seems to be controlling me more than I am controlling it.

The mug said it all.


Amanda said...

Wow. What a year you have had. I wish I could tell you I understand, but I know I can't fully comprehend what it's like to walk in your shoes. I had a cancer scare earlier this year. Well, actually the bad call came the day before Christmas Eve. Those were the longest 3 weeks of my life. Cancer consumed my thought. Even on Christmas. Even opening presents. Even on our ski trip. It doesn't go away. So, after having that experience, I know just a taste of what you go through. I'm so sorry that you have to endure the sickness, but so thankful to get to see you glorify Him in every step. It's ok to cry out to the Lord in despair. That's what David does in Psalms. Blessings to you and your sweet family. Praying for healing, strength, confidence and joy.

Liz said...

I'm glad to hear you got good news today & will continue to pray for you!!

wilsonfamily said...

What an inspiration you are to me and so many others. Thank you for the post, it was again beautifully written. As you well know, I'm not a big reader, but I always enjoy reading your posts. We will continue to pray and trust that there will be no more illness. When I hear this song I think of you. Love you, sweet friend!!!

"I’ll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
Every tear I’ve cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

I remember when
I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry
You raised me up again
My strength is almost gone
How can I carry on
If I can’t find You

As the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
“I’m with you”
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away

I lift my eyes unto the hills
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord
The Maker of Heaven and Earth"

The Horton Family said...

I love you so much friend. I am sorry for "The Sickness". My heart hurts for you.

bhayes11 said...

So glad to hear the good report from the scan - one more down! Next year on Feb 17th we will all be celebrating with you. I'm still praying

Heather Ashley said...

You. Are. Awesome. And SUCH a strong lady. And our God is the awesomest and strongest of all. I love you, my sweet friend, and pray for you constantly.

Melynda said...

You are SO brave! I can hardly believe that you voluntarily chose to continue the chemo treatment that has been so torturous. But then again, of course you did, because you are SUCH a great mommy to those three little cowboys (and wife, and daughter, sister, friend...) and you were thinking of them. I am so proud of you for choosing to finish strong!