Goliath's jiu jitsu class is a great place for me to talk on the phone. I am stuck there for a solid 45 minutes while he punches and wrestles his little heart out, which is plenty of time to play catch up. This was the case yesterday. I spent a good 25 minutes chatting and sharing with a long-time friend. We had just hung up when my phone rang again. The caller i.d. said that the caller was "unknown." In my world, that means it's the oncology office.
It was Dr. F. I'm not sure that he has ever called me himself before. Isn't that why doctors have minions? To do the bothersome work of communicating and scheduling? But this news was far too important to assign to a minion to deliver. I knew it as soon as I heard his voice.
The news is bad. New cancer is growing in my body. It is growing out of nothing, at the same time that active poison chemotherapy is being delivered into my body.
We were both silent for a moment. Neither of us knew what to say. Then I took a deep breath, tuned out the sounds of punching bags around me, and said the only thing I could think of: "Well, this really sucks." He agreed.
The course of action is up to me. Obviously, I am done with Doxil. Dr. F assured me that the problem is not necessarily that the Doxil wasn't working. The real problem we face is that the cancer that plagues me is big and fast and aggressive and strong. It simply overpowered the drug. So, I am going straight to the next drug. Remember when I told you that Doxil was the one and only possibility? That list is still true, but in my case will serve as more of a guideline than an end-all cancer Bible. I've given the go-ahead for the medical team to stuff Doxil and move on to topotecan. It is standard, as far as chemotherapy goes. I will be nauseous and sick. I will be very susceptible to infection due to low blood cell counts, and weak. I will possibly lose my hair. The plan now is to do six cycles. One cycle means treatment once a week for three weeks, with the fourth week off. I will start immediately.
The reason that I have to do this is simple, and can be divided into three parts: Goliath, Little Middle, and Baby. I may not be the best mother in the world, but I am their mother. Made for them. I'm the only one they are ever going to get. I will not--WILL NOT!!--do anything less than everything for my sons. This disease may kill me, but not without a hard fight.
Last night I cried with my husband and my mother. I called my dad, my sister, and my brother and cried again. The sorrow among the six of us is overwhelming. The despair, the anger, the absolute grief--too much. The hurt...oh, the hurt! I think our hearts must be broken, but none of us have the luxury of giving in to heartbreak. Because there are three little cowboys who need their mom.
I am close to the edge. I'm teetering on the side of keeping it together. I am so close that I can look over into the pit of despair and hopelessness. If I am pushed ever so slightly...if I get one more phone call...if I have to make one more decision...if one more inkling of uncertainty darkens my doorstep...I could just give in and let go. I could surrender to the inclination to cover my head and hide out until I die. And who would blame me?
But there are these little men who call me "Mom." And some days, when I'm really lucky, I still get to be "Mommy." And I have this God who I sure don't understand, but he promises to stay close to me because I am brokenhearted and my spirit is crushed (Psalm 34:18). I know that I am not done. I'm close, but I can back up, take a deep breath, dry my tears, and look ahead. Brokenhearted, but not beaten.