Thank you Monty Python - I'm not dead yet either

Published by pam on Sun, 04/14/2013 - 3:54pm

Looking for information about Viagra or impossibly cheap home loans?  Might want to look elsewhere.  For now, at least, Marc has managed to un-hack my blog.  Although in doing so, he says he disabled the comments section.  Please know that I still appreciate hearing from all of you, and if you'd like to respond, you can email me or post on Marc's facebook page. 


During the last six months, I have heard from a number of people who have voiced concerned regarding my silence, fearing that perhaps something terrible befell me.  Again. 


Rest assured, that is not the case.  I am still kicking.  And occasionally screaming - when screaming is required.  Just to bring you up to date, the radiation is over and it was fairly straightforward.  I had a sunburn, but not much more.  Being pasty-white, I worried that there would be nasty blistering etc., but my body took the heat (literally and figuratively) and managed quite well.  I walked up the hill to the hospital every day and then returned to the island to walk some more.  During that time I was clocking about seven miles a day and felt great. 


Since then, my tumor markers have been measured every three weeks.  They are stable and well within the normal range.  I have been scanned and I continue to appear clean from my neck to my pelvis.  I finally had the much delayed and dreaded colonoscopy and was comforted to find that there was at least one part of my body that is NOT growing tumors. 


So, from a cell-division point of view, I seem to be doing well.  But psychologically, I am still a work-in-progress.   There is a tremendous amount of anxiety that goes along with this phase of recovery.  First there were palpitations.  Because a number of the drugs I was given can cause heart problems, I assumed the drugs were causing the changes in my heart rhythm.  But my oh-so-wise oncologist suggested otherwise.  He said my body was most likely taking the pain for my mind and I would most likely experience a good deal post traumatic stress for some time to come.  Post-traumatic stress?  Really?  Really.


It’s like this:  Life goes along just fine.  I’m busy, happy, the sun is shining and then something starts to ache and all I can think is *****INCOMING!!!!!!*****


Crazy, I know.  But so is the soldier who takes and AK-47 to his alarm clock. 


I get it.  I so totally get it.


That alarm clock deserved to die.


My oncologist says the fear dissipates substantially after two years.  Sure, I told him, after two years, my chances of seeing a recurrence from this kind of tumor are far lower than they would be of getting breast cancer in the first place.  Assuming I was walking around with the body I was born with, that is.  After two years, it would be foolish to be afraid.  Crazy even.  Who would be afraid after two years?


Of breast cancer anyway. 


Unfortunately, there are plenty of other things to be afraid of.  My white counts have not gone back up, which is not uncommon, but still a little creepy.  I don’t seem to get sick, but apparently I may be more susceptible to bacterial infections.  My oncologist says not to worry.  He says immune systems are complicated and there is no indication that mine will fail me.  But there are some - including my naturopath - who think a weakened immune system means that I may be susceptible to other cancers.  I am told that once the Herceptin ends, my white counts may come back.  Or not.  They may be one more casualty of cancer. I try not to dwell on it.  There are enough potentially unpleasant scenarios  ahead that I try to tuck thoughts of them away in the dark, recesses of my brain where they can be easily ignored.


Until the alarm clock goes off.  Or I get a twinge in my forehead.  Then I take and AK-47 to anything that moves.


But seriously, things are going pretty well.  I have started a series of classes through UC Irvine and in a few short months I will be a certified educational planner.  Which means I will know a lot about the college admissions process and financial aid.  Go ahead, ask me anything.  I’ll do my best to look up the answer and get back to you.


I am hoping to apprentice on the island.  I have a lot to learn, but I look forward to filling my life with hopeful teenagers and connecting families with schools that serve them well without leaving behind a mountain of debt.  Quite a concept.


As for the other stuff – I think my family has forgotten I was ever sick.  They look at me like – THAT IS SO YESTERDAY.  Which is good I guess.  They have all gone on with their lives and that is as it should be.  Me, well, I still eat well, exercise, try to find joy in each day, and express gratitude.  I take a ridiculous number of vitamins and other supplements, not so much because I think they work, but because if something does happen, I don’t want to blame myself for failing to dot some ‘i’ or cross some ‘t’. 


I miss sweets. 


But I miss cancer less.


A big thanks to all who have asked about me and kept me in their thoughts over the last year.  I’m not out of the minefield yet, but the journey has been much more manageable because people are out there pulling for me.  It makes a difference.  Really, it does.


Now, I’m afraid I have to study.  I have a test tomorrow.  And it doesn’t involve a blood draw.