Creeping In

December 14, 2010 at 11:26 AM (Energy, Faith, Treatment) (, , , , , , , , )

Wow, this cancer is serious business. By my calculations I’ve been off of chemo for just three weeks, but I can feel things growing in there. A knot of lymph nodes in my neck that had gotten smaller during chemo is getting bigger again, and is now, literally, a pain in my neck. The pelvic tumors, which were actually responding to the chemo at first, are growing again and pushing on my left sciatic nerve. And, most disconcertingly, I’m finally understanding that classic ovarian-cancer symptom of “a feeling of fullness or inability to eat” — most of the time, it feels like my dinner consisted of six or eight large bricks. (Don’t worry; I’m compensating for the lost calories with french vanilla ice cream.)

So, is this the part where I start complaining? Maybe. I’m trying to keep my mouth shut around the house, because I know how upset it makes certain-members-of-my-family-who-shall-remain-nameless. And we’re all trying to keep our eyes on the prize: I’ll start this trial next week and the drug will do a bang-up job of knocking back the cancer’s growth and all my symptoms will fade.

I must admit, though, the cynic in me is starting to get up a good head of steam. The hope is still there, the belief in miracles, the willingness to place my life (again) in the hands of one of the most capable medical teams in the country. But combined with the respiratory stuff that’s been going on since the end of September, these new symptoms are stark reminders of just how close to the edge I’m riding these days.

In August, I asked my oncologist (one of the foremost experts in the field) to be honest with me. I said, “I know doctors don’t like to make prognoses, and I promise I won’t hold you to anything you say, but you have a lot of expertise with this disease, and I need to know. If I stopped treatment today, how long would I have?” (A part of me couldn’t believe I was asking this; I have spent so much of this illness focused on the fact that I will get better that even broaching the question of not was a shock.) She told me that I’d have about six good months, and around a year altogether. At the time, I thought, “Well, thank heaven I’m not stopping treatment. I need WAY more than a year.”

Only none of the damn treatments have worked. Do I have six good months left? The cynic figures I’d better really enjoy Christmas this month. Like, REALLY enjoy it. And then the hope side chimes in, “People have been sicker than you are now and recovered. Miracles happen every day.” Yeah, but they don’t, too. People who were diagnosed after I was are already dead. Maybe I’ve already used my miracles — IP chemo, my crazy HIPEC surgery, my previously stellar fitness level. That 35% five-year statistic wasn’t threatening to me a bit until about three weeks ago. Now I’m wondering about May. Whether I should have had a 39th birthday party. Whether it’s worth buying a new pair of flat-heeled black boots.

Though I’ve been sick for four and a half years, aside from acute times like post-surgically or during chemo, I’ve been able to live a relatively normal life. But now, I can’t ignore it anymore. Now, there’s always something.

photo credit here.

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28 Comments

  1. David said,

    I crave and need your postings. You are incredible, strong and you mix your hope/fear like a master chef. Thank you and get those boots! If you don’t buy them I will….

  2. tori said,

    I think you have the right to complain and let it out, just as much as you have the right to those boots. Once you’re feeling good then you can start to worry about how you’re making everyone else feel. Another beautifully written post Sarah.

  3. Jane said,

    1. I admire your courage and resilience (not to mention your writing) so much.

    2. I will be praying for you and your family (in my not-particularly-religious-but-definitely-sincere Unitarian-Universalist way)

    3. It’s always worth buying a pair of flat heeled black boots.

  4. Donn said,

    Buy the boots.

    Time waits for no one. I am a 911 operator and Paramedic.

    I work in a field where tragedy happens daily. People think they are coming home and do not. Every day we swing our feet out of bed and plant our feet on the floor, we take that risk. It is just that some know the path they are headed and some don’t.

    It’s life, Even my day is not for certain.

    Live each day in the moment, as you have from the time I have followed your blog. Be strong, take care of yourself and love those close to you.

    Love ya, chickie!

    xoxo Donna

  5. Bernie said,

    You are such a wonderful lady and I think you should absolutely buy those boots. This is a magical time of year and I believe in miracles, Merry Christmas, ….:-)Hugs

  6. Sarah said,

    You’re earned the right to complain… and this was hardly complaining. Thinking of you with love.

  7. Mr. Wonderful said,

    Being the eternal optimist is sometimes hard when it comes to things like this, but I have a ton of hope and I most definitely believe in miracles. I think we all get more than one. There is no limit. I’m looking forward to a wonderful Christmas with you and the boys.

    Let’s take things day by day. I have a lot of hope for things to come.

    You definitely had the right to gripe and say it how it really is. You know I do.

    And, let’s go get those boots.

    Love you.

    Me

  8. Dawna Phillips said,

    Sarah and Mr. Wonderful (aka Ed),

    You both continue to inspire me. Thank you. Sending miracle wishes your way.

    Love,
    dawna

  9. AnnaR said,

    Your truth is the reason we must all keep writing, yelling, listening, agitating, and constantly questioning the status quo in dealing with this dreadful disease. Thank you for your unbridled honesty in telling us about your reality. It reminds us all that indeed, “cancer is a serious business”. And screw it, buy the boots !

  10. Carol said,

    You continue to blow me away. You have more courage than anyone I know, not to mention a fantastic sense of humor coupled with fantastic writing skills. Get the boots. Sending love.

  11. Nancy Serkez said,

    You have every right to complain, and be angry and scared, yet you still sound upbeat. I think about you, Mr. W. and the boys often. This post made me cry. This is the season for miracles!
    (Enjoy the boots!)

  12. Ginger Armstrong said,

    Sarah………..GET THOSE BOOTS and dance like no one is watching! Get an outfit to go with the boots, and maybe even a few bling-blings!

    Everyday is a moment in time to believe in miracles!

    luv to you, Mr W and those precious boys!
    ginger

  13. themudroom said,

    S,

    I’m thankful for this blog because, even after nearly a decade of friendship, it helps me know you even more than I already do. It’s good to hear the things that can’t be said in the no-cry zone. I love you…but you already knew that.

    And you know how I feel about the boots.

    Mwaa.

  14. donnatrussell said,

    {{{{{ }}}}}

    Maybe this will brighten your day:

  15. Maggie said,

    Ah, Sarah, I hate this cancer. I hate it for you and me and the ones that got remission and those of us who are still plodding along. Mostly, I hate it for your Mr. Wonderful and your boys. Don’t give in yet, you might still get that miracle.

    I’d buy the boots, too. And I am going to have that bowl of pink peppermint ice cream tonight. And I am going to think about you, send you good energy while I eat it! Hope you find your ho, ho, ho spirit in time for Christmas morning.
    hugs:)

  16. Sue Mellusi said,

    Every time I read your posts I want to run up the street and hug you. You’re so dam real, honest, and strong. I think of you every single day, and I’ll never stop praying for you and for miracles.

  17. patricia said,

    As usual, you’ve found a way to make me cry and laugh …at the same time! Plop some more coal in the engine and let the steam blow!! I continue to send powerful prayers and positive energy your way! Use those boots to kick some more cancer ass! xx’s for a very Merry Christmas with your wonderful family and a New Year filled with Love, Hope and Faith!
    ~patricia

  18. Betsy said,

    First off, don’t buy the boots. Let all of us who support you buy YOU the boots!
    Who’s in?

    Second, you are a PHENOMENAL writer who even in the midst of this crisis, continue to touch our lives with honesty, strength, compassion, and humor. And that is miraculous.
    Keep writing. It’s healing and sacred and it touches lives.

  19. Erin said,

    Dear Sarah,
    I just discovered your blog and I think I’m hooked. I won’t blow you a bunch of sunshine about how you are a wonderful person, because frankly I don’t know for sure :o) but I have my suspicions. But I’ll follow your scribbles now and keep you in my family’s prayers.

  20. Blessed to Know You said,

    Yes. I am finally reading.

    Hope, humor and honesty. You’ve got it all, Sarah. As you know, I am a fervent believer in miracles and in flat-heeled black boots. As I mentioned the last time we got together with all of our boys, the “B” boots would look smashing on you. Too bad we don’t wear the same size. You must get a pair.

    Love,
    Amy

  21. WhiteStone said,

    I’m coming up on two years so I’m a bit behind you. But I’m looking at things the same way you are doing. I’m looking at all possibilities and even though I’m not currently blogging about them…the thoughts are there, nevertheless. (My 89 yr old mom reads my blog…I just can’t be all-out blunt knowing that she does.)

  22. Robin said,

    I love and admire you and your strength, cancer sistah. I too have the ‘knot in my neck” as well as the pain in my ass (tumour on the sacrum pressing on the right nerve root including sciatic. I quite literally feel your pain right now. Doc just started me on Lyrica for the nerve pain, I’ll let you know how it works. In the meantime, every time I get that pain in my ass, I’ll think of it as that reminder rubber band people snap on their wrists, and stop to say a prayer for you. There are alot of people pulling for you my dear. Keep up the fight. You are such an inspiration to me. When I think maybe I can’t do it anymore,which is getting to be often these days, I think of what you’ve been through this past while, and I think of your beautiful family, and that encourages me to keep going for mine. Chin up girlie. Huge (((((hugs)))))
    Robin
    xo
    p.s. Buy the damn boots or I’ll come down there and buy them for you..Then I’ll be forced to get myself a pair, then the credit card will come out, and THEN my friend, there will be trouble…

  23. Nancyspoint said,

    Sarah,
    You expressed your feelings amazingly well in this post. I’m so sorry you have been dealing with this crap for four years. I’m glad you have a medical team you can ask questions of so bluntly and that you are starting a new treatment soon. Keep on fighting is the best I can come up with. I never really like hearing take it day by day, but ultimately, it’s all any of us can do. And yes, miracles do happen!!

  24. Elaine said,

    Your honesty and humor regarding survival speaks to the core of anyone of us who has this dreadful disease. The faith in the medical team to beat it back again is hope coupled with your inner strength and determiniation to get you to the next treatment.

    Get the darn boots…get whatever you want NOW. If fashion is part of who you are, then do not give it up.
    Sending you strength and with you in spirit.

  25. Danielle said,

    You are amazing and so strong. I think about YOU, Mr. Wonderful and your boys often. Can’t write much as I’m crying.

    I will say this I too believe in miracles and I hope to hell we do get more than one!

    Danielle

  26. Jen Singer said,

    Sarah,

    This is where I’m supposed to say you’re brave and strong, and yet, that doesn’t feel adequate. I’m really not sure what to say, and I’m a writer, dammit.

    I will say this — cancer sucks. It’s such a simple phrase, and yet it wraps up into one neat bow how we all feel when we read your posts, when we allow ourselves to imagine being in your boots.

    If there’s a God, and I do think there is one, He speaks to me through music. And wouldn’t you know, just as I was typing this, my radio started playing Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now,” the song I used to listen to on the oncology floor at 4 a.m. on the iPod my brother had filled with 238 songs for me. The song I don’t think I’ve heard played on the radio since the 70’s, mind you.

    I truly wish you wouldn’t be stopped. Not now, not for years and decades and so, so long from now. Cancer sucks.

    When I was in treatments, I told my friends I’d worried I’d ruined my kids’ childhoods. One said, “But your kids will be better people because of all they’d endured.” I believe that’s true, for my kids and for yours.

    Please know that we think of you and we ache for you. We love you even if we don’t know you. We wish there were better words to say how we feel deep inside.

  27. Nona Mills said,

    Dear Sarah, I just discovered your blog and I think I’m hooked. I won’t blow you a bunch of sunshine about how you are a wonderful person, because frankly I don’t know for sure :o) but I have my suspicions. But I’ll follow your scribbles now and keep you in my family’s prayers.

  28. Afsie said,

    Hi Sarah,
    I’ve got your info from Dan.
    Please email or call if you need anything.
    Stay warm.
    Afsie

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