Gee. Time flies when you’re trying to get your life back to normal.
Epilogue to the cancer story is that Tamoxifen doesn’t help all women. In fact, I had a really toxic reaction and my oncologist took me off after two months. It was a l-o-n-g time after that until I got myself back. Thank goodness for Dr. Heidi Peterson.
I’ve joined a friend’s team to walk the Race for the Cure in a few weeks. The Komen events raise funds for education, awareness and mammograms. Early detection made a HUGE difference in my treatment options so I believe in the cause more than ever.
Last Friday I completed No. 28, the last radiation treatment. WAHOO. I said goodbye to the excellent Dr. Nico…
…and the lovely therapists who were with me every day: Greg, Camilla and Stacey.
As I told them, they made a difficult process a little easier. Bless them.
Then it was time to celebrate!!! Susan, Janet and I headed off to a nearby establishment and toasted the end of radiation. I had a martini 😉
Since then, I have been dismayed at how incredibly whupped I feel. Susan described it in an email to her sister, “Maggie is very tired and tender”. Yup. I lie around a lot and have spent hours catching up on Leverage, White Collar and The Closer.
I know that this, too, shall pass. Each day I feel a little stronger. Meanwhile, Susan is extracting promises from me to GO AND REST. So, my apologies when I don’t respond to your kind thoughts and notes. I AM receiving them and they DO help.
Post-surgical cancer treatment is, at it’s most basic, giving us poisonous substances to kill bad cells. Chemotherapy is nasty stuff. Radiation is harmful.
Still, these toxins are a vital part of treating the ailment. So, it is very helpful to visualize the medicine in a positive way.
Behold, me, the blossom, opening to the radiant energy.
Yes, I am being healed by the radiant light, just as a flower opens to the sun. Call me silly (please not to my face) — I’m giggling a bit myself. But the visualizing really helps. I know the mind-body connection is an important part of receiving this healing treatment.
I’ve had my first radiation session. And the remaining sessions have been scheduled for 2:50 PST every day. It’s weird but I am a little excited about having a schedule. The last few months have not had much structure. I’ve reacted to each bit of information, scheduled appointments when the doctors were available and made decisions as they had to be made. Every day was different. Normally, I like that kind of openness in my scheduling.
Now, however, I look forward to the normalcy of a daily appointment.
She was a beautiful woman with a big beaming smile. She was an optimist and a devout Catholic. She was a creative and involved mother. We were incredibly lucky in our parents: hard-working Dutch immigrants who parented us well….with discipline and lots of love.
For a few years, before she was sick, she kept a journal:
January 4, Monday, 1965
Seems so nice to have a completely empty book to write in. I wonder what this year will bring us, fulfillment of our plans, more happiness in our family? Maybe I should say continued happiness for we have a fine, happy family.
Our mom was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 36. At that time her four children were aged 9-15.
Diagnostics weren’t as developed in those days so her cancer would have already been invasive. Her lymph system was already involved. Her treatment was grueling. They didn’t have the anti-nausea drugs so she felt ill most days when she was receiving chemotherapy. Her immune system was completely overwhelmed and she was sometimes disappointed to be turned back from treatment because her white cell count was so low. She was a resilient woman and she fought hard. But eventually she had cancer in her lungs and in her liver. She died at age 39.
I feel so sad for what she had to go through.
I feel fortunate to know that my story will be different. Medicine has come such a long way and I have no doubts about the success of my treatment. None. I am lucky.
By coincidence my surgery date of June 8th is the same week of the anniversary of her death, June 10, 1973. I’ll be imagining her at my side.
So, I am hangin’ out here in limbo a bit, waiting for the results of a genetic test (which I am thinking will be negative).
Yesterday I talked with a friend who also had DCIS breast cancer years ago. There are SO many stages of cancer and this is almost not a stage. The good words are “in situ”. It means that the cancer cells have not become invasive and spread around.
Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is an ‘early’ form of breast cancer. In this case, cells lining the ducts of the breast have become abnormal and are growing more rapidly than usual, but are not able to spread beyond the ducts. Women with DCIS are at higher risk of developing invasive ductal carcinoma (Source).
When I spoke with a surgeon last week she said that surgery is the cure.
First, my apologies to you for not being able to call you personally with the news. I want to tell you, in person, gently, in such a way as to alleviate concern. Really I’m going to be fine.
The day I got the news I sent text messages to the kids to set up a lunch or drinks. Matt wrote back, “Is anything up?” I wrote back, “Yes” and said I’d call. I reached him on the phone and asked how he was. He said, “Apprehensive.” I told him the news and, bless him, he said, “I thought you were going to tell me something REALLY bad.” What a nice dose of normalcy. When Lizzie got off work I called her. She was worried. I suggested that her young roommate is also dealing well with breast cancer and Lizzie said, “Yeah, but she’s not my Mom.” Later that day we gathered for lunch and mutual reassurance.
Then I began withdrawing from things. Lots of activities going to the back burner until I know what’s up next.
A few more people know. Soon all my friends and family will know. And, still, I hate the idea of anyone worrying about me.
On the other hand, I want you to know. I want your prayers and good thoughts. I believe that healing happens on all kinds of levels and if you are thinking a positive thought on my behalf I KNOW it will benefit me.
So, thank you in advance. And don’t worry. I’m tough and I’ve faced harder stuff than this.