I went into my appointment already feeling emotionally wobbly. Julia’s classmate has a neighbor who died over Thanksgiving break from a four-year battle with ovarian cancer. Her daughter is Julia’s age. I heard about the choices she made to help ease her passing. She was insistent that the family spend Thanksgiving away from their home and with close family friends. She died over the weekend, not on Thanksgiving day. I imagine that she was thinking about not wanting the family to have memories of her death in their home or on a major holiday. I found her choices inspiring. A mother’s love demonstrated to the end.
So with this news as the backdrop, I went in to see my oncologist. I’ve been going on follow-up appointments every three months with my oncologist, surgical oncologist and radiation oncologist all year. It’s worked out to one appointment a month between those three doctors, but somehow the three have all landed in the month of December. I had my blood work done the Friday after Thanksgiving in time for my Wednesday appointment. As I walked from the car down the path and up the stairs to the office I had a rush of memories come over me. The waiting room, the smell of the air freshener in the bathroom, even the sound of my footsteps on the cement walkway all churned up a mixed bag of emotions for me. I was in a different place, feeling physically strong. The scars from the surgeries and where the port was placed for administering the chemo have healed over as much as they will. I was happy to see the nurses and my doctor, but really, really, really, really, really strongly disliked being back in that office.
My doctor was very pleased with my blood work. Everything all in range, even my vitamin D. My body has started producing estrogen again so I no longer am in pain when I get up from sitting on the floor and I can close my fists in the morning when I wake. I asked, with tears in my eyes, “When will I be able to move into the group of people who have battled breast cancer and now are living life merrily on their way?” She looked at me with compassion in her eyes. “What you are feeling is very normal. I have no reason to believe that you won’t be in that group. You have done everything possible to eliminate cancer. Your prognosis is excellent. It just takes time. Nothing can help but time.” And with that I thought, “Nothing can hurry time.”
So then yesterday all over the news I was hearing about Elizabeth Edwards dying from breast cancer recurrence. I couldn’t pull myself away from reading the articles and calculating in my head– first diagnosed in 2004, three years later it came back. And then I would replay in my mind what my doctor said. It’s brutal being in this in between place. All these things hit so close to home.
My dear friend, Leila (of the Awesome Threesome), wisely pointed out that this month is a rough month just because it was the month of diagnosis. When I thought about it, I realized that I have been edgy with the kids, kind of tuning out and going inside. It’s helpful to be aware of what is going on in my heart. I think what makes it hard for me is that I can actually go a few days now and not think about cancer and then think I’m ready to jump back into “normal life” and then I’ll be bowled over with an unexpected story or memory and feel flattened all over again.
Still would appreciate your prayers this month as I go in for a couple of more appointments and hit some of those dates that are “anniversaries” but not really the celebrating kind.
Thanks for checking in…