One year. Can you remember what you did this past year??? Work, cook, run errands, take care of your kids, and repeat? February 7th, 2014 was the start of the Winter Olympics. Oh yes, and it was also the day I got diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer. Yes, the day my world simply stopped. Don't get me wrong, I had my own little pity party, but I also chose to get over it. Seriously, I know we must grieve, but I'm not dead. Enough with the grieving!!! There's always gonna be time for that, but your chance to live is NOW. Death is not even close, and honestly the last year wasn't all that bad. Yes, their are constant treatments, little surprises (solitary brain met), but we have always moved onwards and upwards and have enjoyed our time during the in-betweens.
Here is a little run down of the past year:
I have had 19 Herceptin infusions, one every three weeks
I took countless clodronate pills to strengthen my bones, 4every morning, with GI side effects I didn't
care to continue, therefore switched to intravenous bisphosphonates
I have had 9 Zometa infusions to strengthen my bones, one every four weeks (the first one sucked, but it got better)
5 CT scans of my chest, abdomen, and pelvis just to keep track of these little buggers that like to wreak havoc on my health in unpredictable ways. This included a CT of my brain to map out the stereotactic radiosurgery they did
2 Bone scans (I think)
3 Brain MRIs, one indicating cancer. Treated and then stability...yaaay. Chill out in my brain. PLEASE!!!!
Approximately 5 ECHOs as Herceptin can cause a decrease in the left ventricular ejection fraction of the heart which can lead to heart failure, however it can be reversed!!! YAAAY to reversible heart damage. I can handle that:)
5 Zoladex injections to essentially put me into menopause and slow these hormonal driven buggers from acting up. Just google the size of these "subcutaneous injections." Oh the hot flashes that ensued... Sweating, excessive heat, and cursing. Lots of cursing!!
Daily Letrozole pills, countless amount of bloodwork, unexpected stereotactic radiosurgery, and some surprise X-rays, oh yes, and apparently I am allergic to the CT contrast!!! Surprise!! Because I LOVE medical surprises. Ok I don't like any surprises, let alone when it has to do with my health!!!
I could handle all this. I did handle all this and then, almost a year after my mets diagnosis I woke up in excruciating pain. I instantly knew it was nerve pain. I felt like an 80 year old with so much pain, but with no clue where it originated from!!! Thank goodness for an amazing hubby who helped me move from my bed to go downstairs as I had pain to my shoulder, right under my clavicle, and around to my back under my scapula. I couldn't even raise my arm or drop it. I was a mess, and desperate. My hubby found my stash of gabapentin and morphine which I literally have not taken in the past year and popped them like candy. I felt pretty desperate, and I can honestly say I have never felt this broken, in extreme pain, and uncertain since my mets diagnosis. I guess I never expected to feel so poorly, so suddenly, and without much warning.
I wanted to go to emerg, but at the same time I was in so much pain I didn't think I could get there. I knew my oncologist was going away on vacation but I didn't know when, and it was Saturday. I decided to try, out of pure desperation, to contact him. Honestly, his act of kindness and dedication to his patients almost left me in tears as he called me within 15minutes. He told me to start on steroids to help with swelling, to take morphine hourly, and gabapentin for nerve pain. He then sent a req to get x-rays to make sure it wasn't an instability or fracture in a bone. Plus he expedited a PET scan I was to have at the end of March to get done within 3weeks. After we went over all the drugs to take, I curiously asked when he leaves for his vacation. His answer: in an hour. Ok, seriously, to say I was appreciative doesn't even begin to explain my realm of absolute thankfulness for everything he has done. The fact that I didn't even need to leave my house and go to emerg was great!! As I write this I still feel like I'm in a drug induced haze, so I apologize if my writing reflects this, but my pain level has come down to bearable. I now have some cracking/popping noise happening just under my left clavicle (more medial, close to my sternum) with deep breathing and movement. What is this?? No clue yet, but I can only worry about one thing at a time. Pain is manageable and I'll take that, and that's all I have the capacity to focus on right now.
Yes, cancer is unpredictable and things happen in a fashion I have nillo control over, however there's 365 days in a year and most those days were simply amazing. I have a new nephew who gives me even more joy in my life then I can tell you, just like my sweet nieces. My wonderful brother and sister-in-law. I have an amazing hubby that will do virtually anything and everything for me. My amazing mom who is always there for me, and does anything and everything without once questioning a thing. My beautiful bestie who has surprised me more than I can count whom gets me laughing uncontrollably in the most questionable situations. Thanks for that buddy;). All my lovely nursing friends who have done countless acts of kindness, the Calgary firefighters who cease to amaze me with everything they have done even though many of these lovelies have never even met me. Thank you. My many cancer friends who simply get it. I would not trade these friendships for anything. Some of the strongest women I have ever met who give me strength on a daily basis. All the health care professionals, my oncologist, my many lovely nurses, techs, everyone who has simply smiled and acknowledged my presence; Thank you. The good has still outweighed the bad. It's because of all you that this past year was still amazing!! As I look back, I can't help but look forward to the amazing opportunities this year will bring me. I will keep everyone informed on what's going on and the wonderful opportunity that may lay ahead of me. An opportunity to be involved in something bigger, but something that has literally taken over my life; breast cancer.
Everything happens for a reason, and slowly I'm starting to figure out what that reason is. Onwards and upwards. We have lots of plans for this year and I know, despite the bumps in the road, they're exactly that, bumps in the road. We all get over it, and that's exactly what I plan to do. People, please don't complain about your life because it's in your hands to change!! If you have good health this world is your opportunity to do whatever you like!! It doesn't get more amazing then that, but you must open your eyes and seize the opportunities you get, or else your life will pass you by, and the only person left to blame is yourself.
February 7th/2014-This day changed my life, but I decided that day it would not ruin me. Moving on. I think this year will only get better because I'm not about to slow down, and cancer is simply this little bastard that will tag along, but it will not control me. Nope. Cancer, you little bitch, you get to sit in the back seat, and I refuse to let you take the lead. Not today. Not ever.
(I was on quite a few drugs when I wrote this, but that's ok. This is me...drugs or no drugs.)