It’s been quite awhile since I have posted and many of you have asked if I’m ok – and yes, thank you, I have been doing great! I have just been busy living my normal “pre-cancer” life – enjoying my husband, my kids and grandkids, and catching up with friends.
I’ve kind of had PTSD about cancer – I haven’t wanted to think about it or talk about it or follow through with my post-cancer appointments. One of my best “bullets” against cancer is to believe I am cancer free and to remain positive. So, when I think of doing scans every 3 months to make sure I am, in fact, cancer free…it gives me some anxiety and it feels counterproductive. If I’m done with cancer lets just be done!!
But…I knew I needed to do my follow up visit with Dr. T so I forced myself to make the call. My husband couldn’t come that day so my daughter in law came along to be another set of ears and to be my support.
With our lattes in hand, Ashley and I walked down the way-too-familiar hallways and sat in the room where I previously had some of the most difficult conversations in my life. When the nurse took my blood pressure I wasn’t surprised that the number was near the skyrocketing point. Being a patient in the cancer section does not bring me peace.
In his typical fashion, when Dr. T arrived he asked me what questions I had for him and he wrote them down and then addressed them one by one.
I won’t bore you with all the questions and all the things he had to say, but there are a few things he said to me that were BIG – HUGE – AMAZING. He gave me a fresh kind of hope to hang onto. The kind of hope that stands against facts and will stand up to my fears.
I began our conversation saying that sometimes it is difficult for me to believe I will remain cancer free when I know full well that the reason we are doing scans every 3 months is because I am at high risk for metastic cancer.
This is what Dr. T said to me with a complete straight face. He said, ”You look good and you feel good and I can tell you that your next scan is going to be good.” Yep. That’s the first thing he said. (Cha! Cha! Cha! I’m starting to tap my toe feeling like doing the happy dance.)
He went on to say this, “The reason we do scans is to be proactive. IF you were to have a cancerous tumor we would be able to take it out when it is very small with surgery or maybe a few rounds of chemo. After that, we would move you to a new drug that metastic patients are doing fabulous on with very little side effects.”
OK – good news I guess, but my toe stopped tapping and my daughter in law rubbed my shoulders to help me dig up some courage. To me, metastic cancer is like hanging on to the end of a rope that is fraying in the middle.
I then pushed my shoulders back and went straight after some hard truth. I brought up the fact that statistics show that women with Lobular breast cancer do fairly well for the first five years after they complete treatment, but they don’t fare as well after that. And Dr. T had an immediate answer for me.
He reminded me that most women who are on hormone therapy do not tolerate it well which forces them to stop taking it. If they stop taking the hormone therapy prematurely, the cancer is more likely to return. In my case, I am tolerating my hormone therapy exceptionally well and I can remain on it for the the rest of my life. I asked if my body would become immune to it over time and he said no.
So now my toe started tapping a little and I was feeling a little bit of cha-cha-cha inside of me that was wanting to dance. But then came the really good part.
When it was time for my exam, my daughter in law stepped out to give me some privacy. Dr. T told me that after hearing about our family from my husband and I, it was very nice for him to meet my daughter in law. And this is what he said that I found to be nothing short of amazing.
“Women who have strong families like yours have already won half the battle. Besides your medication, your emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being are huge factors in remaining cancer free. The strong relationships you have in your family are maybe the most important thing that will help you to remain cancer free and I believe it is a large part of why you have navigated through this process so well.”
And I looked at him in amazement and said, “You mean that my family is part of my cure??? “ And he nodded his head – yes.
Ohhhhh….myyyyy…..gosh. If my family has a great deal to do with my cure – there is soooo much hope for MEEEEE.
I went on to confess that since about mid-way through radiation I haven’t done as well on the physical part. I told him that I had been tired from radiation and I was catching up with many friends over lunch and dinner and had not stuck with my eating regiment very well.
And that good and kind man said this to me,
”Very few women stick with all of their regiments during and after radiation for a few months. It really knocks you out. And going out with your friends? That’s another important piece in the healing process. Women with strong friendships simply do better. Strong friendships, family, and faith are as important as your hormone therapy.
Now is the perfect time to get back to the exercising and eating routine you were keeping through the first part of your radiation. Just make that little tweak and you are on the right path.”
When Ashley came back into the room I wanted to pick up that beautiful woman and twirl her around and around. (I didn’t because she is about 6 inches taller than me and it may have caused her some embarrassment.)
It just GOT me…to think that the people who I love actually play a part in my healing. I find that to be simply – fascinating.
Relationships matter. They really really matter. Relationships that cause a pit in our stomach or keep us up at night are extremely unhealthy for us. But relationships that lift us up and make us better have a positive impact on our physical health.
Coffee with a friend can lift our spirits and bring new perspectives. A strong marriage gives a greater sense of well-being. A strong family helps to guard against the storms of life. And laughing with a group of friends refreshes the deepest part of our souls.
A relationship with God is the most important of all…
Dr. T gave me a perfect prescription for a healthy life. Family, friendships, and faith.
I’m going to keep cancer at bay by doing my favorite things in the whole wide world. I will continue my rhythm of hanging out with my husband, my family and my friends; I will continue to enjoy my morning coffee with Jesus. In addition, I will take my little pill, keep up my exercising, and make better choices when I go out to eat.
I am choosing to believe that my scans will be good. If Dr T believes it – then so do I.
***So that’s my story for today. My first scan is scheduled for Wednesday, March 11, and I would be so grateful if you would pray for me.
I have some more blogs whipped up that I think will be kind of fun. For one blog I asked my friends the question, “How do you refresh your soul?” It promoted lots of good conversation and I hope that it refreshes your soul as it did mine.
Another one of my blogs you might find interesting – I asked some of my 60+ friends “What is your favorite season of marriage?” I had a lot of fun hearing about all the different perspectives on that. I think you might too.
Thanks for reading my blog today and check back soon for new postings!
Until next time,