Thursday, January 16, 2014

Read This

On my way to bed last night I stopped by my daughters´room and kneeled down by her bedside. I listened to her breath in and out - little whistling sounds and studied the look of utter peace across her face. Like many mothers, I could sit and watch my child sleep for hours. I whispered in her ear "Mama loves you soooo much. You will always be my baby no matter what." I nearly choked on the last words as a tear trickled down my cheek when I thought about the possibility of not having the chance to be her mother as she grew up. It just made me feel physically ill - thinking about losing out on that experience of molding the child I had created. Because you see - last night when I went to bed I didn´t know what was going to happen today. All I knew was that my doctor had asked me to come in to get the results from Tuesday´s scan. So many scenarios swirled around in my head and most of them were of course horrifically awful. So when I dropped her off at daycare this morning,  I wondered about whether this would be a major moment - the last moment where things would still be normal and that maybe, just maybe when I returned to pick her up again things would be so unbelievably different.


It seems that life has finally given us hope and a lifeline. After three years of disapointments and crushing defeats, we have finally claimed a victory against the Big C. When I saw my doctor wave us in, he smiled - in that comforting "everything is going to be okay" kind of way. Because to be honest I had been close to hyperventilating in the waiting room. We sat down and he said that things actually looked quite good. I think both my husband and I were in shock as after what we have been through, we pretty much had prepared ourselves for the worst. But it seems that the hell I went through last year paid off and there is...Drum roll people - NO EVIDENCE of DISEASE!!!!! Yes that is right folks - I am officially and medically speaking cancer free. It feels good to say it and know it is true. I have earned my second survivorship pin with a PET scan to prove it. I think we should go out and buy a lottery ticket because we definitely have beat the odds on this one and kicked the stats out of the water. I was the first breast cancer patient in Norway to receive this kind of treatment and I am happy to be a success story. It feels fantastic and though my doctor is far from the emotional vocal type, I think he is pretty pleased that he managed to rid my body of this dreaded disease. Of course this is cancer we are talking about so the road doesnt end here and we have many more of these scans to get through but getting through one is reason enough to feel relieved and ecstatic. We did it everybody! See - cancer doesnt always win. :)

There are other things to discuss but I will save those for another day because today is simply going to be the day I was told that I kicked cancer´s ass. So what do I take from this whole life altering experience? Well - as cheesy as it sounds, you really can´t ever give up or stop hoping for things to get better. In just 6 months, I went from wanting to stop chemo because I felt like it was killing me (ironic choice of words) to celebrating slaying the C-dragon to the ground and being able to look at my future with confidence instead of fear. And I finally get to go to Canada! Woohoo!

It is Thursday which I think is acceptably close enough to the weekend to warrant cracking open some champers or wine. So please raise your glass with me and let´s all say together - FUCK CANCER!

Thank you again to all of you who helped me through this latest saga. Friends and family really are the best things a person can have and I think life would be empty and meaningless without them.

Here are some visual reminders:

Love from a super happy cancer free OBB!!!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

I wish I had a Crystal Ball

“After you find out all the things that can go wrong, your life becomes less about living and more about waiting.” Chuck Palahniuk, Choke

It is the second Sunday in a row that I have spent feeling awful and in bed most of the time. I felt alot like I did during chemo - the ache through my entire body, every tiny little movement and action feeling like such hard work, having no energy at all (i.e: having to sit down in the shower) and just feeling like absolute crap. Both days - I have slept hours throughout the day and had the most awful dreams. Mind and body are clearly out of sync. The thing is that I am not ill nor am I recovering from some huge night out (god I wish) - I am simply reacting to doing too much the day and week before. Honestly I find it so unbelievably depressing how cruel and punishing my body can be to me. It´s like when the pot starts boiling and the bubbles get closer and closer to the edge, you run to catch it to turn the temp down but instead everything erupts down the sides and everywhere. That is an accurate image of the way my body reacts when I do too much. The week was insane - first week of working 3 days a week, 2 huge birthday parties to host and the whole scan looming in the background. I know I pushed myself and I had this cold that was teetering on the edge of becoming full blown flu. It was just too much for me but of course I didn´t listen to my limits or to my body and I just pushed and pushed and pushed. Then BAM! Sunday it all comes crashing down and my body forces me to actually take the rest it needs via bed hostage tactics. I never experienced anything like this after the first cancer round so I can see how much more all of this has affected me. Every day is a new learning lesson for me and my newfound limitations. But god does it make me so crazy angry - that my 34 year old body (yes I had a birthday this week) can´t make it through a busy day with no rest without completely collapsing the next day and refusing to work. It isn´t normal but then again what the hell is normal about this life I have been living for nearly three years now.

I can´t believe cancer has been my dark passenger for so long. You almost start forgetting what life can be like without it. This time, three years ago, I was in pain, I knew something wasn´t right but I didn´t know how wrong it was. And now I feel like I am staring down a road with two paths and not knowing which one I will take. I want things to be okay because I just don´t know if I could go through more of this. I don´t know if my body could take more and I never thought I could or would feel like that. But do you want to hear a confession? I am also scared of things being alright too. Thinking of the results coming back clear makes me feel weird and unsettled. Cancer has been such a huge (albeit totally shitty) part of my life for a long time. In some screwed up way, it becomes a part of you and your identity. I am the girl who got breast cancer twice before she turned 35. By losing the cancer piece, you need to move on from the whole experience as you tick off each clear scan and it can be unsettling moving away from the safety net you can get from cancer. I don´t know if I am making total sense here (cancer - a safet net? Say what girl?) but maybe those of you who have had cancer before will get it. I of course never ever wanted to have cancer, but once you have it, the thought of having to just get on with everything again can be quite terrifying. Who am I if I am not the girl with cancer? Like this blog - would my normal life really be interesting enough for you all to read? So I feel all messed up about it all. I remember in October 2012, when my husband and I were waiting for the results of my biopsy following a positive pet result. We were so prepared for the cancer to be back and had made plans and strategies - so when we got news that the biopsy was negative (the biopsy was in fact wrong as they had missed the tumour by mm but hey thats just details), we felt deflated, depressed and so utterly lost. I guess that is kinda how I feel right now - lost. There is so much riding on this scan and now that it is nearly a day away, I still feel so unprepared. My doctor is being so positive though, which he never used to be, so I am trying to join him on that train of thought. When I am trying to fall asleep or wake up in the middle of the night, all I think about is that day we come in for the results. Any cancer patient or survivor can tell you how terrible that feeling is - the nausea, your heart beating a mile a minute, the analysis of everything around you.  I think of how I will feel that day and what his face will look like when he walks. Will he smile in that happy everything is okay way or in the "you are going to die" pathetic way? How will he say hello? Will there be smalltalk? Dr Sunshine tells me that I am always trying to find answers to questions and things that are impossible to know. Like I expect some crystal ball to be sitting in the oncology ward holding all the answers to everything. But like Tuesday when I lie there as the machine scans every inch of my body and like that day I go to hear my judgement, I will have no idea what is or will happen until it actually does. Acknowledging this lack of control clearly doesnt make it any easier but who said any of this was easy.

I had a dream last night that I was being chased by something I couldn´t quite make out. My chest was pounding, my legs were tired and fear rippled through my body. I just kept running because even though I couldn´t see it, I knew it was bad. I kept trying to will myself to wake up to end the dream because I was so scared. You ever have those kind of dreams? But I couldn´t stop the dream and it kept going and going. Kinda sounds like the last year of my life. However the important part was that as awful as the dream was, I did wake up and it did end. And I was okay. So regardless of what happens on Tuesday, I will tell myself what my husband wrote in my birthday card this year:

"Everything will be okay in the end. If it´s not okay, it´s not the end."


A slightly older and wiser OBB

PS: Thank you for all the emails, calls, packages, cards and messages from all of you from around the world. Birthdays are ever so special to me and so many of you joined in to celebrate it with me. I am grateful for all the love I have in my life. This year will be my best yet!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

2014 Will Be Cancer Free

“For last year's words belong to last year's language
And next year's words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning."
T.S. Eliot

First of all - Happy New Year everyone. I hope you all had a nice and restful holiday and are greeting the new year with open arms and extra big smiles. I love Christmas excessively and always find that it all goes by far too quickly and suddenly we are taking out the boxes again to put all the glittery, sparkly beautiful things away. I always feel sad that first weekend after New Years when everything disappears and we have nothing but an extra long cold and dark month ahead of us. But of course I had my little monkey´s fourth birthday yesterday too which was simply wonderful. I put everything I had into the day to ensure it was extra special for her. I feel that with everything I have been through, every moment matters and I want to make days like this absolutely perfect and it was. I can´t believe I have a four year old already. I did alot of thinking back to that day when she became a tiny little person in my arms and I embraced motherhood so fully and completely. Little did I know what would be awaiting me so soon afterwards. To be honest - I find it so hard to see her grow up so fast. She is my baby and most likely will be my only baby and I want her to stay little forever. I think she is far more perceptive then I give her credit because when I remarked how big she was getting yesterday, she said to me that I would get sad when she was bigger. I smiled and reassurred that I did want her to grow up but that she would always be my baby to which she agreed. I am also celebrating my own birthday next week which I feel priviledged to be doing as turning 34 is an honour and not a drag. I probably would have freaked about approaching my mid to late 30s had I not been smacked by the cancer stick because as I know - nothing is owed to you and growing old is not a right. So I will be fully embracing my saggy knees and crows feet thank you very much.

In other news - I bit the bullet and overcame my fear of planning for the future and (through some gentle prodding from my husband) booked tickets to Canada at the end of the month. It was crazy and I was hyperventilating as the ticket confirmation page was loading. I had been humming and hawing over it for over a month and finding reasons to not book. Of course the trip sits smack dab in the middle of this scanning limbo and as a result stirs up lots of emotions. It also reminded me of the last two trips I had to cancel because of "unforeseen medical emergencies" and I most definitely didn´t want to do it again. But I have decided that I will go to Canada regardless of what happens unless a doctor tells me otherwise. I need this - it has been over two years since I was there so I am well overdue and i think being with my family will be therapeutic. So monkey and me will take to the friendly skies and hopefully survive the trip. I have been growing increasingly anxious being out in public with her these days when I feel so fatigued, dizzy and just plain out of it. I get so scared that I will collapse and she will be alone, scared and not know what to do. I never worried about this stuff until the whole wedding debacle in September. Losing control and consciousness in front of lots of people is absolutely terrifying and I can´t imagine how much worse that situation would have been had she been there too. I guess I have more anxiety issues to work through then I thought. Hello therapy!

And finally...we are in January and my scan is now less then 2 weeks away. I don´t how the time went by so fast. I remember asking my doctor for a 5 month break as a favour because I desperately needed a long break from cancer but we are again ready to embark on the cancer merry go round. To be totally honest (because that is what this blog is all about) - I have no gut feel about how this is going to go at all. Maybe it is my way of protecting myself this time or maybe it is the result of having been through so many of these, the waiting times, the expectations and the disapointment. I genuinely have no idea but of course I want the outcome to be good. I have been telling myself that I look much too good to be ill again as have many other people but then I played games with myself today by studying pictures of me and monkey as a baby, looking wonderfully healthy and serene despite the fact a deadly cancer was growing aggressively in my body. It is hard to deal with all of this sometimes and what a mind fuck it can be! But all will be known very soon and hopefully all that poison and radiation held up its end of the bargain and killed everything. It does feel like a judgement day of sorts due to fact that there is just so much riding on this. I don´t want to hear more bad news and I dont want anyone to dig around in my body anymore. There is nothing left to take and my life needs no more interruptions. So you can be assured that I will keep you all updated on the scan and what we hope will be big scale celebrations in Canada afterwards! And there will be champagne people...there will be champagne.

Wishing you all well in 2014 and hope you make this year your best yet. I am hoping this will be mine.