#MyLeftBoob Chronicles: #Chemo Day 74: Pain, Scars and Superstars

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I haven’t updated in a while because I was waiting to feel better….waiting to have something positive and inspiring to say…..waiting for the pain to go away and well, it hasn’t. The last few days have been rough. And I’m not a wuss. I popped out an 8 1/2 pound baby, my first-born, with NO drugs whatsoever. The nurses in the delivery room kept saying, “Wow! You have a really high pain tolerance.” Or, “You’re doing really well considering how hard and fast your contractions are coming.”

Fast forward 26 years to a new kind of pain caused by harsh chemo drugs to kill any last trace lingering, unwelcome cancer cell. Everyone kept telling me how much easier the Taxol would be- it’ s not. Everyone kept saying how I’d have less side effects with Taxol- I don’t. I have more. The pain was so bad in my knee last weekend that I could barely walk. The pain was so bad in my joints and back last night that no matter which position I turned, I was still in extreme pain. Plus I have tingling in my feet and toes.

The only thing positive I can say about all of this is that I’m almost done. I have two more treatments left, then another surgery, my third (fourth if you count a tooth extraction), and another scar. I’ve heard someone say before that scars are tattoos with cooler stories.

The new surgery will be at the end of July to get rid of another weird, rare, abnormal thing I’ve been diagnosed with- Atypical Ductal Hyperplasia (ADH). As if being diagnosed Triple Negative (15% of women get) and Metaplastic (1% of women get) was not enough. This new surgery will push back radiation by a few weeks, depending on how my scar heals, but at least it’s not cancer. Phew!

One thing I’ve learned about all of this over the last five months is that no two cancer treatments are alike because no two people are alike. So when people who have been through it make generalized statements about what to expect, I can truly say, speaking from experience, don’t listen. Expect the worst but hope for the best. That may sound negative but until you’ve been through dizziness, nausea, hair loss, extreme fatigue, muscle pain, joint pain, back pain, neuropathy all at once, on top of facing a life threatening illness, you have no idea what it’s like.

It’s physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually draining. It will test your faith. It will test your inner and mental strength.ย It will test your relationships and maybe even end some and that’s okay. It will show you who truly loves and cares about you and that’s a good thing. It may be shocking at first to realize those you thought would be there are not. Maybe because they can’t deal with the C word. It’s too scary. Maybe because they offered you advice and you politely declined. Maybe because cancer is too depressing…or too inconvenient. So many times I’ve wanted to say to this one person who has not been there for me, “Sorry my cancer diagnosis has inconvenienced you,” but I won’t apologize for something I didn’t ask for and have no control over. This person has shown me time and time again that other things in their life are more important than me. And so I just slowly let the relationship fade away. Yes, that’s depressing.

Then I try to fill those sad places with thoughts about the tons of love and support I’ve received from so many and I am grateful. It’s an emotional roller coaster. Each day I never know what to expect and this has become my new normal.

So how have I been coping? Prayer. Support from family and friends. Relaxing yoga and therapy sessions at Ann’s Place- thank GOD for that place! I wish I had gone sooner but I was too busy trying to distract my mind from the fear that tries to creep in…from the what ifs.

And finally, I must mention the excellent care I have been receiving from Danbury Hospital and Physicians for Women. I have the best doctors and am getting excellent treatment. My gyno called today just to check to see how I was doing and to tell me he was praying for me. My oncologist always makes me laugh and calms me down when things get scary. My radiologistย is straight-forward, efficient and doesn’t mince words. My surgeon is the one who took out the cancer and to her I am forever grateful. She respects me and explains things in ways I can understand without talking down to me. My team of doctors are all superstars in my book. We are on top of things and taking care of business.

And me? I’m taking things one day, and sometimes one hour at a time and I know that one day soon it will all be over.

Click here to support my breast cancer battle on GoFundMe.

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