So, I was putting some days between me and my little cancer experience and feeling pretty good about things overall. Business has been great and keeping me fully occupied. The girls and I took a trip to New York City where I attended an Internet Marketing Conference and they played all through the city in the daytime, then we went out at night and had fun. I was beginning to think about getting a reconstruction, but when I heard about the magnitude of the surgeries and the time frame they took, I knew I would have to ponder it for a while and that's what I was doing. So, life was going along fine.
One day last month I woke up with itchy ears. I normally don't have ear issues, but when it got worse, I took them to see my Physician's Assistant, Laura Colvin. While there I mentioned the ever growing bump over my rib cage. She examined it and was surprised to see that it was the size of a goose egg. I told her that I have to sit slumped sideways sometimes because the thing is so uncomfortable. She also took a look at my latest bloodwork, and the pathology from my surgery. There was a lot if silence as she read the volumes of papers.
I left with stuff for my ears and an appointment to see an Oncology Specialist in Salt Lake City. Now here's the thing. If you are a cancer survivor, and you aren't expecting that kind of outcome from a simple doctor's visit, that is devastating. This where you realize that cancer never leaves you. It's the head games mostly. And there's other people. Do you tell people - the ones that will start to worry all over again, the ones who had cancer through my experience, the ones who stood by my side every step of the way? Their disappointment is no less than mine. The problem is, WE ALL THOUGHT WE WERE DONE WITH THIS!
Two weeks flew by and I was driving to SLC for my appointment. I became more and more terrified as I went. I wouldn't let anybody go with me, because you see, then cancer wins. It wins because it has scared you and all your loved ones again, and again they are taking time off from their lives to sit in the waiting room with you, waiting.
I was mad, too, because I've braved my way through some amazingly scary situations in life including going to DC to testify before a Senate Subcommittee, telling our Governor his community plan stunk, heading mutli-national grassroots groups of very powerful people, been a firefighter, etc., but that day cancer turned me and my courage into a blithering wreck. It's the not knowing that really gets you. And on that drive to Salt Lake, when cancer snuck in and stole my bravado, I felt as though I was truly stripped of the very things that make me me.
I pulled myself together and found the office near Salt Lake Regional Hospital. My new Oncologist was a woman my age. I liked her right away. We did a major work-up and my tests will be back May 7th at which time I'll see her again. She didn't know what my lump is, but her attention was instead on my disastrous liver situation. Even though my cancer was estrogen positive, I can't take Tamoxifen because my failing liver can't process it. This leaves me vulnerable to getting cancer again, both in the other breast and in my ovaries. She looked right at me and and said, "If your genetic tests come back positive for BRCA 1 & 2, you'll need to have to have your other breast and your ovaries removed. Further, if we can't somehow figure out what to do about this liver situation, you have at most 10 years to live."
Hey, pretty cool info for a girl who just went to get her ears checked. NOT!
You see, this is what I mean by "cancer never goes away." Even if you don't "have" it any more, you still "have" it. You have the emotional, physical, and medical repercussions as your most constant companions. Your friends and family go through an endless roller coaster un til finally they get so sick of it they can't stand it any more. Cancer carves you up and is completely unapologetic about the scars it leaves behind. Cancer stole my family, leaving me the matriarch on my mother's side of the family by the time I was 25 years old.
I cried on the way home and then threw a pretty rockin' pitty party for one for a few days. But if you know me, you know I came back to the light knowing that I am so lucky to have all of you, a beautiful day outside, clients who are kind and care about me, little flowers coming up through the snow, and of course my wondrous kids and handsome dogs.
Cancer strips away all the trash and leaves just the raw truth of who you are, what your dreams are, and in some cases, that you'd better HURRY UP and get those dreams accomplished. That's not bad, because as we know there is no such thing as "bad", only things that happen and how we choose to react to them. It is all good and I will stand by that concept that until my dying day.
The sun just peeked through my window reminding me that my day has begun and that I need to get to work! I feel great, fantastic actually, and by May 7th, I will be standing ready for whatever comes my way next. Cancer (or my dumb liver) will not win over me, or my bravado, or my life.