Before September 25, 2018 I was a mother, a wife, a full-time student, and a nurse. That all changed with three words. Three words that changed my life forever. “You have cancer.”
The look on my doctor’s face said it all. She even had tears in her eyes as she broke the news. Like hurt her to tell me. She sat down next to the ER cart I was on and said a prayer with me as I sat there in stunned silence.
The next few weeks were probably the darkest days of my life. We didn’t initially know what kind of cancer I had so I had many tests. CT scans, mammograms, a breast biopsy, a bone and bone marrow biopsy. Once we knew I was battling stage IV breast cancer, a whole new set of unknowns and fears set in. Stage IV cancer. That means terminal. No cure. No hope of remission.
In addition to my diagnosis, I also was in excruciating pain constantly. Something as simple as rolling over in bed hurt so badly. I couldn’t even walk to the bathroom without assistance. My middle daughter Morgan (who is a nurse’s aide) even had to help me to a bedside commode and wipe my hiney. I was scared, hurting, and now embarrassed. 43 years old and unable to even wipe myself.
I couldn’t leave my bedroom and I began to drown in the depression. It was like a dark hole I couldn’t climb out of. I couldn’t work. I couldn’t care for myself. And I could die. 43 years old, and I could die. I could leave my family behind. Thank goodness they were there for me. Thank god for the friends who helped pull me out of the dark pit that was swallowing me up.
There wasn’t a lot to laugh about during those first uncertain days. I wasn’t able to do much besides watch TV, play games on my phone, and surf the internet. I caught up on movies I hadn’t seen before. Who doesn’t laugh when Deadpool says,
You’re probably thinking, “My boyfriend said this was a superhero movie, but that guy in the red suit just turned that other guy into a fucking kebab!” Well, I may be super, but I am no hero. And yeah, technically this is a murder, but some of the best love stories start with a murder. And that’s exactly what this is: a love story.
And how can you resist smiling when you see the LEGO Movie make fun of Starbucks overpriced coffee (that I am terribly addicted to)?
And you would have to have no sense of humor at all if you didn’t laugh when Brandon Farris talked about almost cooking the cleaning lady on the top of the pizza oven.
Slowly I found my way through the darkness. It didn’t happen overnight but as time passed, slowly I found a new fire. I realized that if I gave up, that would be it. My life would be over so I might as well pack it in and start funeral planning. I could give up, or I could dig my heels in and fight for each and every last breath.
I have too much left to do on this earth, and I refuse to let cancer take that from me. My life might end sooner than I planned, but I intend to make the best of every minute I have left. I intend to do the things I always planned to but never got around to. And I intend to smile brighter, laugh harder, and love deeper. Cancer can’t take that from me unless I let it, and I’m determined not to let that happen.
Dx 10/9/2018, invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC), left breast, 1.5cm, Nottingham Grade 2, hormone receptor positive, ER+ (estrogen receptor)/PR+ (progesterone receptor), HER2- (human epidermal growth factor), BRACA- (genetic mutation), Stage IV, metastasized to bones
First CA 27.29 10/9/2018 83 (goal <38)
Hormonal Therapy 10/12/2018 Tamoxifen (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) pills
Targeted Therapy 10/12/2018 Xgeva (Denosumab) injection
Hormonal Therapy 10/19/2018 Lupron Depot (Leuprolide Acetate) injection
Surgery 11/29/2018 Vaginal hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy
First CA 27.29 post hysterectomy 12/10/2018 73 (goal <38)
Hormonal Therapy 12/11/2018 Femara (letrozole) pills
Targeted Therapy 12/23/2018 Ibrance (palbociclib) capsules
First CA 27.29 post medication change 1/10/2019 60 (goal <38)