As I was traveling to my spring vacation spot, I started to reflect on how much my life has been affected by hearing the words “You’ve got cancer” 2 ½ years ago. Nothing can prepare you for those words. I have a family history of all types of cancers most not ending the best. Not going to say that I didn’t freak out. That would be lying but it was a quiet freak out. I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer first. Probably one of the easier cancers to beat but then I was diagnosed with breast cancer just a few weeks later. I thought “of course I have more than one cancer”. Why not? I had never heard of this but turns out it happens more than you think. With the diagnosis of breast cancer, the remaining treatment for thyroid cancer was put on hold. I had already had my thyroid removed so all that was left was the radioactive iodine treatment, but my tests for the breast cancer interfered with that treatment.
After meeting with the two oncology teams, I made my decision on which treatment I wanted and talk about the whirlwind of appointments, prescriptions to fill, and handouts to read all before my first treatment in ONE week. I had confided with a few people before getting started and turns out one of the gals I previously worked with had a breast cancer diagnosis and we both had the same oncologist. I was also given a journal from a friend to pour out my thoughts as I went through the cancer treatments. What a great idea I thought. I would write volumes…. Yeah right. Once I got started, I did what I always did when I had a life changing event, deny anything could take me down and I didn’t need any help. I would just put my head down and make it through by not letting anything change. I didn’t write one word in my journal.
I focused on the rhythm of my treatment. I started my pre-treatment meds days before the treatment, I would go to my treatment on Fridays with my daughter, then meet up with my friend as we had the same treatment days, blood work, doctor visit, add another drug as needed for the side effects, get the IV treatment going, chat with my friend, talk to my daughter with my blanket and other stuff to just keep my mind off of the drugs going into my body. Afterward, then Neulasta patch and good-byes to everyone, I was feeling amazing because of the IV. Each day after, feeling a little bit worse until Wednesday when a ton of bricks hit me and all I wanted to do was curl up in a ball. Each day after I was feeling better until it was time to start the sequence again. This was my life for 16 weeks.
A couple of visits with my surgeon before deciding lumpectomy, mastectomy, reconstruction, etc. Surgery comes and goes. I of course didn’t let that stop me from going to my son’s baseball game the day after. Yep! I got a ride to watch my son play baseball as I didn’t want him to think I wouldn’t get better. Enough Tylenol and you can do anything. Results then came back on the lump and the lymph nodes. Good news, no nodes involved. Finally, something had actually gone right.
The next step was radiation. First appointments to get the right settings and then everyday appointments right away in the morning so I could go to work. More things to make sure you do so you don’t burn. By this time I was on a first name basis with the gal at the pharmacy.
Once the radiation was done I had an appointment with the oncologist, surgeon, radiologist, and someone to help me understand what happens now. Unfortunately, I don’t remember what her title was as it was a lot to take in. What no every other week appointments now? I will be on my own? Talk about anxiety. I had relied on them to help keep me in my zone. In reality, I made it through but now what? There is now a plan to take a couple of different prescriptions to help reduce the cancer from coming back. Blood tests will of course continue, mammograms, DEXA scans, etc and appointments still will continue but not as frequent.
By the way, I had still not written a word with which to look back on. I had made it to the other side without having to talk/write about what I was feeling. I hadn’t really had to because I kept my head down. But, had I made it? So many unspoken insecurities and questions. So many whys and what ifs. It was time to start dealing with the NEW me whatever that would mean. This is when I found Project Pink’d.
More to follow in my next blog … my plane is landing.