So here I am 3 days before my final c-spa trip fighting this cold that I have had for about 7 weeks now and digesting a lot of new information.
I have been looking forward to this day for a long time. It goes back to May 19th when it was my first trip to the C-spa which feels like a lifetime ago. I remember writing a blog entry the night before and being full of fear of the unknown and dread of what was to come. Now fast forward 6 months later and I have been through the worst nausea of my life, shaved my head and lost all my hair, managed to get 16 IV needles put in, struggled through all sorts of odd side effects and emotions and learnt to be fairly functional on extremely compromised levels of energy. I was actually walking to pick my daughter up from daycare a few days ago and literally had that “Aha” moment when the magnamity of the last year hit me suddenly. I couldn’t believe everything I had been through and managed to deal with. I mean I have been bald and managed to make it work! Go me! So as I look towards my last needle on Friday, I wonder how I will feel? Will I be relieved, will I be scared, will I be oddly sentimental? I mean this cancer business has been my life and there is comfort in the routine of it so I am unsure of my reaction to the conclusion of it. My daughter will be joining us for this final c-spa trip and I am ordering the cake today! I want to make sure the nurses know how much I have appreciated all their support through this process. The cake will say TUSEN TAKK CANCER SUCKS. For the non Norwegians reading this, tusen takk is Norwegian for thank you. I thought it was cute and hell it rhymed too! I really think sometimes we need to laugh about cancer as it has already had too many tears shed for it. And let’s face it cancer does well and truly suck!
Now Friday’s celebrations have been tainted slightly following my appointment with my oncologist yesterday. I seriously find these check ups terrifying and nearly started hyperventilating once we were in the room waiting for him. Once you are told you have cancer once, you can never truly rest easy when meeting your doctor because the unimaginable has already happened. I gauged his face as he walked in to see whether he would tell me something good or bad, however I think oncologists must have the best poker faces in the world. I couldn’t tell anything and he sat down and asked me how I was. Hmm… how I am? Sick of cancer, tired, frustrated and wishing none of this ever happened, terrified! We talked through the next phase of treatment which will involve 25 radiation sessions and what side effects to expect. It will be much easier then chemo in my mind as there are no needles! Radiation involves trekking to the hospital every day for 25 days straight (weekends are off) for a zap of radiation to the area where my lymph nodes were. It is an extra treatment to give you the best chance of killing off any remaining nasties lurking around the area. So according to my calendar, I will get my get out of jail card on December 20th! There will be lots to celebrate this Christmas.
Our discussion then shifted to hormone therapy which I had been dreading. In the beginning, my diagnosis was a non hormone related cancer which is one of the most aggressive but has one bonus of not requiring the five years of hormone therapy that comes with most hormone related breast cancers (which make up the bulk of breast cancer diagnoses). It was a small break amidst a lot of crap and also meant I could go on to have another child two years after my treatment had concluded. But now the fact that my cancer had a slight progesterone receptor (I don’t understand all the pathology or chemistry behind this!) meant that it was advised to do the five years of hormone therapy! I was upset to say the least as it meant taking a pill every day for the next five years, dealing with more side effects and this whole nightmare not being entirely over. Now I of course know hormone therapy is not the end of the world and the side effects are minimal compared to everything I have been through, but it feels like a continuation and it also means I cant have a baby any time soon. And when you have had cancer, time is your most precious commodity and you never know when it will be taken away from you again. I was also angry. Angry at the crappy deal I had been dealt of having this aggressive cancer whose only break was not being given to me!
And our final discussion surrounded the genetic testing of the BRCA genes which I have mentioned in an earlier posting. I bit the bullet and decided to have the test done on Friday. No sense in waiting now as it is there or it isn’t. I am getting a fast version of the test and if it is positive I will know in two weeks. If it is negative it still doesn’t mean I don’t have it but will require further genetic testing. Now the implications of a positive test are pretty major for me as the gene is passed through families. Children of parents with the gene carry a 50/50 chance of having the gene. If I carry either of the genes (there are two BRCA1 and BRCA2 with 1 being the more aggressive of the two), I will need to have another mastectomy imminently and lose my ovaries by 35. Yeah it sucks the big one people! Does this roller coaster ever stop? In my mind I was calculating numbers and 5 years of hormone therapy would take me to 36 and then the possibility of another child seemed to be slipping through my fingers. I hope I don't come across as greedy when I talk about my anger over not being able to have another child because I know many people never get the chance to even have one child. I know how lucky i am to have my daughter! Of course my husband and I want my health to be the number one priority and we are prepared to do everything possible to ensure I remain in remission. But it is a lot of information to process for anyone especially after having already been through what we have. I am praying that I don’t carry this gene but if I am then of course we will deal with it just as we have been dealing with every curveball so far. And how lucky am I to have this gorgeous little girl in my life! The doctor discussed again how strange my case was and the fact my cancer was undetectable which he hadn’t seen before. It made me thankful again for her in the fact that she truly saved my life and that I was in fact able to have her in the first place. She is my little angel and I will tell her every day how I am here because of her.
So after a bit of a shock yesterday, I had a cry while talking to Captain AC and let myself have one day of feeling upset and angry. Then I woke up today and just picked up where I left off. Life keeps going and you either decide to stand still and lament or look forward and continue walking. I want to keep walking because who knows what is around the bend. I am hoping it’s a big glass of champagne and some fabulous cake!
Thank you again for all your support through this journey.
Love to you all,