- When Cancer Spreads, Chemo’s the Key (everydayhealth.com)
- Wellstat Investigational Drug Shows Life-Saving Potential in Treating Toxicity of Widely Used Cancer Chemotherapy (eon.businesswire.com)
- When Chemo Makes You Sick: Nausea and Vomiting Treatment Updates (everydayhealth.com)
- Cancer Facts : Nanotechnology in Cancer Treatment | Diabetes (theze.cn
and make them last.
Things I learned from Cancer 101 (3)
To savor means to enjoy something with unhurried appreciation. My diagnosis came at the age of 46. I know, not so young but I was still reveling in the joy of being a Nana. My grand daughter Ryleigh had just turned two and my grandson, Trey was only 9 months old. His giggle echos to this day in my head as I remember how he loved to jump in my lap as I sang “Five Little Monkeys” Such a happy time.
The night before my mastectomy, I sat in the floor and played with them, crying and “savoring” them. I knew it would be a while before I could hold them so I “savored” them in my arms. They were so unaware. The blessed innocence of
childhood. The un-knowing-ness (If that’s not a word, it should be) of their play was so sweet.
Not one of us knew with certainty what the outcome of the next day would be. Had the cancer spread? Were the lymph nodes involved? Was there other cancer? Would these two precious little wonders remember me if I should die? Who would tell them how very much they were loved by their Nana? Would they really ever know how much I loved them? I was afraid, not of dying, that is the one certainty in life, but of being forgotten. To just be one of the faces that disappeared and was no more. I could not bear the thought of being forgotten. I knew how special a grandmother was, I had mine until I was 55 years old, and , oh how I loved her! I so wanted to be here for them.
The grand babies were going to be fine, but what of my children? My daughter and two sons were scared. It showed on their faces, but they were young. My Mother and my little Daddy were another story. I was supposed to be around to help take care of them. What if I wasn’t able to do that? My daddy cried every time I looked at him. My precious mother had a shell shocked expression. She doesn’t handle fear well at all. I just wanted to take care of them all, and I was terrified that I was not going to be around to do it. My husband, my sweet Doug, never missed a treatment. Would go and bring back burgers for anybody who needed one. In sickness and in health and he proved himself to be faithful. He is truly my better half. But what if???? What would he do without me? Who would tell him to pick up his dirty clothes? Who would remind him to cap the toothpaste, or remind him to take his medicine? The little things became so much more important and the big things that we used to worry about faded away.
What were we going to do about cancer? So many thoughts, emotions, fears to face. Talk about emotional overload, I was eat up with it!!
So surgery the next morning. I don’t remember much about that time, this is the part that gets a little fuzzy, thank heaven for good drugs. I had an incision from the center of my chest ,across and under my left arm. And drain tubes, oh my goodness, THE DRAIN TUBES!!!
People let me tell you………..drain tubes are created by Satan, straight from the bowels of Hell!!!
For those of you blissfully unaware of what those evil things are, allow me to enlighten you……..picture this….two small plastic bottles with caps, from which a tube extends. Now this tube travels into my body, up my chest and into the front part of my arm, a good foot and a half of tubing. The way this works is like this.. The bottle is compressed and capped while collapsed, so as it expands the suction pulls fluid from the chest which allows the muscle to reattach itself to the chest wall. I know sounds gross, but you should of been there! So the fluid drains. Now you get to keep these nifty little gadgets until no fluid is collected. For me that was about 8 weeks for one tube and 10 weeks for the other. After that amount of time, the incision that holds the tubing in has healed. So has everything else, which means the tubing is stuck in my chest wall and guess how the Dr. takes it out???????????? Oh yeah, he says “take a deep breathe” and proceeds to PULL it out. Oh yes!! with a mighty yank, out it comes. I could have sworn it was wrapped around a wisdom tooth, it hurt so bad!!
I have never had to have another person tell me to breathe, but on that day, Doug had to shake me and yell breathe!!! Not fun, and not something I ever want to do again.
So, the healing began. Long days of ignoring the left side of my chest. Just pretending that if I didn’t look at it, it was OK. The longer I ignored it, I could delay the inevitable. I knew I had to face the fact that my body was different, but I was not ready. When the time came, after drain tubes were out, the bandages came off. Reality would not be ignored any longer. I had decided to take a bath. So with the tub filled with a wonderful scented bubble powder and refusing to look in the mirror, I stepped in. I took a deep breathe…….and looked down. I remember putting the wash cloth over my mouth so Doug would not hear me cry….but he did. This giant man knelt down beside the tub and said ” Mama, it’s not so bad, really it’s not. It’s OK! I knew, I finally knew, I could do this. The first step in reconciling my heart and my head to deal with cancer had been taken. I can do this. I CAN DO THIS! And I have. Cancer may win in the end, but I’ll die trying to kick it’s butt!
The days of waiting for results was agonizing. The tests to see if I had lymph node involvement was agonizing. Patience, hurry up and wait. Not my strongest attribute. I hate waiting. The news was good. Thank you GOD! Finally, something was going in my favor!! No involvement. Now onward to chemo!! I figured, the sooner I got started, the sooner I would be finished. I learned this about myself……….I am a fighter! Now let’s get this show on the road!
The next thing cancer taught me was……I am strong! I am a much stronger person than I ever believed it possible to be. I know where I get it, it comes from my Father. Without his strength, I have no power. I am woman, hear me roar. Patience, strength and courage, that became my prayer. When I knew something was going to be particularly painful, I said my mantra over and over in my head. Never once did HE fail me. Not one time when I asked did HE say no. I am such a lucky child that my Father loves me so much. This I know!! I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
The next lesson cancer taught me was I AM STRONG IN HIM! Fear, to Savor each day, and where my strength is found, just the beginning of lessons learned.
Things I learned from Cancer 101, Chapter 1
Fear is a killer. When you first hear the words that give voice to your diagnosis, fear is the first emotion to hit you in the gut. It is a paralyzing fear that grabs your throat and squeezes…..tight…….until you feel like you’re going to pass out. For me, when Dr. Copeland entered the room, I knew. I held up my hand and said “if you have any good news, I want it first” He threw my chart down on the table and looked at me, square in the eye, ” We caught this as early as it is possible”
Then, I could breath again. One deep breath, “now tell me the bad news.” Both tumors are malignant. OK, now what?
I had enough medical knowledge to know what a mastectomy was, so that in itself did not frighten me, but some how, the word “chemo” did. Go figure, surgery not so scary, losing a body part, not so scary but chemo made me FEAR.
I had known people who had done chemotherapy. They always looked so “sick” No hair, pale and weak, so opposite of me.
I have always battled a weight problem. Food is my drug of choice. It makes me feel good. Never once did I look , pale or sick. I was the picture of health. Robust health. The word cancer was foreign to me.
Oh, I knew what it was, but that is something that happened to other people. Other people got sick and died. Not my family, and certainly not ME!
So with that ,November 28, 2001 became a date that is forever engraved in my mind. Not likely to forget that one, nor the December day that started my journey to recovery.
What a strange word, chemotherapy. Why is it called therapy? That sounds cathartic, almost cleansing. SOOOOOOOOOO not what chemo is, at all!!
So, for six months I did the “therapy” where they gave me toxic chemicals twice a week. I took a cocktail mix of three cancer drugs……Cytoxin, Methotrexate, and my favorite of all cancer fighting drugs………..ta da……5-FU!! No seriously, that is what it was called. I loved my 5-FU. The coolest of all cancer drugs. I could just see those 5-FU toxins entering my blood stream, searching for cancer cells all bad ass and mean! I always wanted my 5-FU first!
After all this time you would think that the memory of that time would fade slightly. Nope! I remember it like it was yesterday. All I know is the FEAR is always near. Some days I can feel it breathing down my neck. It hovers around me like a ghost, whose presence is seldom seen and only occasionally felt. That is when I tell myself……..cancer is only a word. It has no power. I have made a decision not to give it power over my life. Cancer only has the power to take your life. It can not steal my joy, my happiness, and it certainly has no power to steal my salvation, my gift from a loving father who knew me before I was born, who wondrously and beautifully formed me!! Take that cancer!!! My DAD can whoop your dad!
Cancer has taught me that life is indeed, fragile. There are no guarantees given. We are not promised tomorrow. Not one minute is a given.
I have learned that life is a school. What we learn here is preparing us to be what HE wants us to be. No, I do not believe that God gave me cancer. I do believe that there are things here on earth that are under Satan‘s influence. Cancer is simply a product of this environment, not like air or water, I mean the environment we inhabit. Our earthly environment. I wish I had the answer to all the questions, but of course, I don’t. But by the time we get the answers to the questions………………….I don’t think the questions will matter so much.
Now 9 years later, I still remember the fear. Funny, but I can’t recall the pain, just the throat clenching fear. Little did I know that there was something coming that was so much worse than my cancer. Only three years after my diagnosis came the worst day of my life. The day that my 2 year old grandson Austin was diagnosed with…………………………..you guessed it cancer. Man, how I hate that disease!! To steal a quote………..cancer sucks!!!
TO BE CONTINUED…