Back on April 8th, Pat emailed me the following.
Life happened and I didn’t get around to posting what she wrote. And then came my daughter’s emergency and…all hell done broke loose!!!…as Louise Jefferson use to exclaim on that long-ago sitcom, The Jeffersons.
After seeing Pat this weekend and being reminded in the flesh of her ordeal, I felt compelled to share her voice…
Living with Cancer
I’ve been living with cancer now for 4 months. It’s probably been closer to a year, but the diagnosis came in January. Started chemotherapy on January 21, 2015.
Every time I send updates to my family and friends I tell them I’m doing fine. I’m tolerating the chemo well. I haven’t had any really bad side effects like nausea or vomiting and I still have all my hair albeit a lot more gray now. And that is the truth.
But it still SUCKS big time. The last time we spoke you asked how I can keep such an upbeat positive attitude (I was talking to you at the time – ‘nuf’ said.) Actually, it’s not so hard when I don’t feel sick even though I know that I am. That, and the unwaivering, unbelievable support we have gotten from day one from family and friends both here and far across the globe…
BUT…today was my 12th chemo treatment…4 more to go. Took my home meds a few hours ago. Brad saw me drinking that nasty concoction down and came into the bathroom to offer support. I told him I can’t wait for this all to be over. I DO NOT look forward to drinking that stuff on treatment days. I’m also getting a little tired of getting poked every week…blood tests on Mondays, Wednesdays it’s an IV in my hand and a chemo shot in my belly (it doesn’t last long, but it burns going in.) Every 3 weeks or so, I see the Naturopath for acupuncture. I don’t look forward to that much any more either. Don’t get me wrong! I still love Dr. Burke, the scenic drives to Waimanalo, and talking story with him. Still. I’d really like to dump all the homeopathic meds down the sink too.
But I won’t because I’m living with cancer, not dying from it. Not today, anyway. And I’ll do whatever it takes to make sure that doesn’t happen for a long time.
My take on this: I have cancer. I don’t have time for this. What do I need to do, Doc? Let’s just do it and move on.
So I will get through the next 4 months. Whatever that might entail. Bring it!
I’m guessing for most cancer patients like me, it’s always in the back of one’s mind. Not 24/7. I don’t obsess about my condition (at least I don’t think I do), but it’s always there. Every quiet moment, any down time, it pops into my head. “Oh yeah. I have this thing called cancer. But wait, I have to do the laundry now.” Sometimes it’s still unbelievable; it’s not denial, it’s just unreal.
So, yeah. Yesterday (it’s now 2 a.m.) was treatment day 12, so I can’t sleep. I’m angry and I need to vent, but I’ll be fine tomorrow, or later today.
OK. Pity party is over. No time for that either.
BTW…did some online retail therapy. That always helps. I do have an excuse though. I lost a couple more pounds and I only have 2 pairs of skinny jeans, and 0 shorts that fit. The jeans aren’t so skinny-fitting anymore. (One day I used a bungee cord as a belt…only around the house, of course…I didn’t go out like that.) Thought I might start a new fashion trend though. Actually, I was surprised I had lost more weight. Especially after our Easter brunch. Thought for sure I’d gained something back.
When we spoke this weekend, Pat told me about her last doctor’s visit.
Pat likes her doctor. An Indian man steeped in the nurturing ways of an eastern culture, he has been her rock from the beginning. When he asked how she was feeling, there was a long pause before she could bring herself to answer. And he let her have that moment to collect her thoughts.
Finally, Pat told the doctor that she realized she had undergone the “easy” part of her treatment. That the next lap would be difficult. I think she also told him a little of how she’s been feeling lately. Her doctor’s reply was one of knowing relief. He’d been wondering why she wasn’t having these feelings earlier in her treatment.
Sounds like the doc was waiting for Pat to “explode.” Otherwise she might have imploded. And that can’t be good for her fight against cancer.
Pat told me she’d recently read about her stem-cell transplant. The one she’ll have at The Mayo Clinic. Reading about it clearly brought her face to face with the hard reality of what lies ahead. Apart from the transplant itself, she has to remain in Minnesota for 3 months. During the first month Pat will be in isolation. According to the CDC…
During the first month after HSCT, the major host-defense deficits include impaired phagocytosis and damaged mucocutaneous barriers. Additionally, indwelling intravenous catheters are frequently placed and left in situ for weeks to administer parenteral medications, blood products, and nutritional supplements. These catheters serve as another portal of entry for opportunistic pathogens from organisms colonizing the skin (e.g., . coagulase-negativeStaphylococci, Staphylococcus aureus, Candida species, and Enterococci) (32,33)..
Wish I could be a butterly on the wall, sending positive vibes towards Pat during her forthcoming isolation.
It’s hard to fathom how Pat will endure these next several months. And yet she will. She’s a fighter…of the soccer mom, Hawaiian variety type.
Pat and Brad are in the Indy 500 of their lives, and they’re determined to win the race. With our unwavering good thoughts and abundance of prayers, they’ll make it over the finish line.
…and for sure we’ll be cheering them on…every lap of the way!!!”