Cancer Schmancer…er…kind of…

I apologize for a lack of an update on here. I know many people are curious as to my treatment and I’ll try better to upkeep this regularly. In all honesty, I had actually planned to get on here and write about how great I was doing after my first chemo round and how mentally I was feeling like LET’S DO THIS, I AM HERE FOR IT. Then, second round of chemo happened.

I know my chemo education class went over that side effects can build (I also spent most of that class with eyes glazed over in a complete mental blackout so thank you mom and sister-in-law for taking notes) but I was feeling pretty lousy after round two. I will spare you the intimate details of my tear filled anxiety ridden week but last chemo round had me feeling very fatigued, nauseous, very constipated and very much spiraling into a black hole mentally. Fun stuff!

I do not have much, if any, physical pain from the cancer itself. I’ll tell you my much bigger battle is my mental one.

In the days after I first got diagnosed I was very much in a fog about it all. Yes, I understood I had cancer but it was like everything was in slow motion (ok, I was also partaking in some pain medication that was prescribed so maybe that was part of it). It honestly didn’t even feel real for a few days.  The day we were to leave to go to MD Anderson in Houston to get a second opinion, I showed up at my brothers house in complete meltdown mode. I did not want to go to MD Anderson. I was positive they were going to find the cancer was stage 4 and had in fact spread to my liver, lungs and brain. Like, very sure of it. The local hospital that diagnosed me had not done a scan of my lungs and now I was pretty sure I actually was having shortness of breath (see what is happening here?). My sister-in-law and brother (both doctors) assured me that for the cancer to get to my lungs and brain it had to go through my liver and my liver was clear on the scans. I was skeptical. I am no dummy and had done enough googling to self diagnose that this cancer was probably (definitely) in my lungs. We packed the car and headed west to Houston.

I am not sure the last time you had a silent panic attack in the car with your two kids in the backseat and your husband completely unaware but I would not recommend it. Suddenly during the drive I began to feel like I couldn’t breath. It didn’t matter how many deep breathes I took, I was just not getting enough oxygen. My lungs were not working. The cancer. Everything was spinning, I could not breathe and I was spiraling fast. I debated screaming to my husband to pull over and call 911 but instead opted to scramble for headphones where I then YouTubed a meditation video and eventually cried silently until I calmed down enough to nod off to sleep for a few minutes.

I spent most of the MD Anderson visit walking around in tears, not being able to function and fully expecting every doctor to just walk in the room and hand me a pamphlet to hospice. I realize that sounds dramatic but when you are faced with a health crisis you know nothing about and feel completely healthy it is mind numbing the anxiety it brings. I basically tried to ask every doctor to just give me a number 1 out of 10 how alive I would be in ten years but they wouldn’t. Doctors can be the worst. I cried my way through every appointment and couldn’t believe I was here doing this. How is this happening? At the end we left with a treatment plan and made appointments with local doctors who would be administering my MD Anderson chemo plan.

Now that I have physically began the treatment plan there is some relief that I am actually now doing something to combat this disease. We are getting somewhere – hopefully, maybe?

What you do not see on me as a cancer patient is the daily internal struggle I encounter on a daily basis. Sure, I have good days but the bad days are bad. It is hard to be laid up in bed sick and hear your kids running around the house. When my three year old asks about my chemo pump and tells me he’ll make sure not to hurt my bo-bo. When I open up the paper (yes my mom still gets the daily newspaper) and glance at the obits to see a young woman who lost her five year battle with cancer (wow, that one really sent me spiraling). It just is hard. Yes I realize I have to try my best to keep a positive mind set but I am honestly flat out scared of a lot of what is to come.

I am scared of the next round of chemo and it being even worse this time around. I am scared the cancer is still spreading even though I am receiving chemo (is this possible? I have stopped myself from googling it at this point). I am worried my tumor will not have changed when I go back for my progress scans. I get depressed each time I step on the scale to see a number I would have once previously deemed a ‘goal’ to realize I am this way because I am sick (WOW, nothing puts something as silly as body issues into perspective as cancer, its all so stupid). I am scared of the long lasting effects radiation will bring. I am scared of having to go under anesthesia for my future surgeries. I am terrified (understatement of the century) of the 8+ hour surgery I will endure as my surgeon removes my tumor, lymph nodes, uterus and ovaries. I am worried about the colostomy bag I will have to wear as my insides heal. I am scared of the surgery to hook back up all my internal plumbing to make me whole again. I am wondering how all this will look as I try to raise two kids and still live a life.  In all honesty I guess none of my feelings matter in the end because it’s all happening no matter what.

I will try my best to surrender all my worries and leave it in God’s hands. I do realize mental health plays a large part in recovery and many days I am in a great head space but I also need space to feel. Which is maybe why I’m writing these posts? The last time my husband was in town we were in the car and I said, “Well, I can honestly say I’m beginning to feel like I don’t think I’m going to die from this cancer”. To which his response was, “Great! I never thought you were going to die from this cancer”. Which is good, right?! I mean, maybe I will die of this cancer, who knows. Maybe you will die of cancer you haven’t been diagnosed with yet. Maybe I will get hit by a bus. I’m not sure how it will happen, but I’m beginning to feel like this cancer will not be it.