Commercials show us what we should think cancer looks like. We see facilities, treatment centers, sick children, people with no hair, people talking about drug therapies. I have had cancer twice now and those faces aren’t my face. I’m a daughter, a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a friend, a mother in law, a coworker, a neighbor. You see me in the grocery store, the bank, the department store, the pet store. You drive the streets and highways near and around me. You may have sat next to me in an airplane and started a conversation with me or totally ignored me. You may have stopped for me while I was in a crosswalk, or I for you. I am a person. I have all my hair. When you see me, I look fine on the outside. It is my insides that have rebelled against me and are trying to cut my life short. I was told I was cured the first time when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005, and I believed I was cured. I beat breast cancer and I did not look back. I was proud, I was strong, I moved forward with my life.
Then one day everything changed in a blink of an eye, although if you are waiting on test results during the holidays like I was, it was forever and then not forever. I went from walking three miles 2-3 times per week this summer, to not even being able to walk up my own stairs at home without being out of breath. I called 911 because something was not right in my body, however I was not sure what. I was dizzy, out of breath, nauseous, coughing, and gagging. I felt silly calling 911 because I really had a rough couple of weeks beforehand and I really thought I was having some type of mini melt down. I had broken my foot, put our beloved pooch Neil to sleep, and rushed Oliver the cat, to the vets. However my body was speaking to me and the voices only got louder.
I thought they would send me to a psycologist and then send me home because I was being just foolish. In a blink of an eye everything changed though. They ended up finding nodules in my lungs and my left lung was full of fluid (1.2 liters to be exact). All of the sudden now I was being admitted to the hospital and not because I was crazy, something was very terribly wrong. The ER lung doctor came in while I was waiting for my room and apologetically informed me I had lung cancer. What?!? Wait! I had no biopsies what in the world was she talking about?!? Even questioning her, she was insistent that I had lung cancer. Oh boy, now I am in a total tail spin. In a blink of an eye, it all happened so fast.
I’m in my room now which will be my residence for the following three days. The next morning the doctor on duty paid me a visit. I asked her at once about my lung cancer. She told me they didn’t know if I had cancer or not. I told her the ER doctor was insistent that I did have lung cancer. As she squirmed in the chair in front of my bed, she insisted they were unsure of what was going on with me and that I needed the fluid drained from my lung and biopsied to determine what was going on. Whew! I didn’t have lung cancer after all! I just had an idiot doctor that scared the crap out of me for no good reason at all.
Next in comes one of the oncologists from my former oncologist’s practice. He informed me that he let my oncologist know I was in the hospital and he wanted to do a breast exam on me. What?!? This should have been my first clue that all the sane doctors upstairs suspected my breast cancer had returned and the downstairs doctors thought I was crazy with lung cancer. However in this instant, I felt like a breast exam was fine because I was fine and I had no lumps or bumps, those days were well behind me and everything checked out just fine. I never gave it a second thought. He did reassure me that should it turn out that I had cancer, they had me covered and had a treatment plan all ready for me if need be. That was very reassuring, however more and more I was thinking I was going to be okay. Then the lung doctor came in to see me. He could hear the fluid in my lungs and he told me I would feel so much better once they got it out. That sounded great to me. I was ready. However all of this started on a Friday and unless they had a lung emergency over the weekend, I would have to wait until Monday to have this procedure. I am not one to wish ill (especially that someone else can’t breathe) so I could move things along, so I just sat in my hospital room waiting and thinking I probably didn’t have cancer after all. I will pray just the same, that I don’t.
I waited nine days for those results. I was tired and anxious, however I was ready to get on with it all. In the end it turns out I do have breast cancer again. It has metastasized to my lungs. And after one of those fun PET/CT scans, it was revealed I also have breast cancer on my bones too. Yes, in a blink of an eye things do change. I thought… I have had breast cancer before, and I beat it! I can do it again! I will do it again! Then I go in for my meeting with the oncologist to discuss my treatment. And in a blink of an eye I went from rah, rah go team! To hearing my doctor say, my cancer is not curable. Huh?!? How can that be? I guess instead of telling you that you have terminal cancer, they now tell you that you are not curable. There is a lot of research being done each and every day for all types of cancer, so there is hope that one day I can be cured. I just need to get through treatments and hope they can stabilize my cancer and also stay alive long enough to be able to benefit from a cure.
I am going fight……………….. after all I’m a daughter, a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a friend, a mother in law, a coworker, a neighbor and these people are all depending on me to fight like hell. However most of all, I am depending on me to fight and fight hard. I will get my affairs in order, but cancer don’t mistake that for giving up. I am a fighter and I am a survivor and cancer can’t take that away from me. Holy cow, in a blink of an eye everything changed and now I am fighting for my life. I won the first battle with cancer, however apparently cancer has decided to wage a full blown out war on me. Bring it, because I am not going down without a fight!