Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Risky Business

Chemo is done.
I am getting mapped for radiation tomorrow.
In my mind stage three means nothing but a number.
There is no way on earth I could have taken anything better or for longer than I did. I had nine months of adriamycin, abraxane, cytoxan and xeloda. Reminds me of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid when they blew up the safe in the train and everything around it was blown to smithereens....

"Think you used enough dynamite there Butch?"

So I left a message with my breast surgeon that I want my port out.


This was met with a trepedatious, "Well, we have to see what the oncologist says."

This means, well, we don't think you are going to be NED for very long so why have another surgery???

So yesterday I sat down across from my onc and point blank asked him:

"Is there anything more we can do?"

His response was "NO- you had more than 100% of total treatment. The rest will be taken care of with hormonals."

Remember, this is a man who has been "shooting for a cure" from day one. Even though he cannot tell me we accomplished that, and won't know until about a year and half to two years from now.

And then I asked him, "Can I have my port out?"

Without blinking an eye he said "YES."

Am I whistling past the graveyard? Committing a major kinnehura? Tempting fate?

Who cares.

I want this damn thing out. I am tired of walking around like I am wired for Radio Free Europe transmissions.

If the day comes that I need to get it put back in, so be it.

But until then- take the goddamn thing out- move forward and don't look back.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Lisa, Sweet Lisa

I've lost a friend today. We all have. For Lisa was a friend like no other. She was as gentle and kind as anyone could ever be. She was brave and strong and she tried so hard. She fought for so long, with all her heart.

I cannot fathom how this has happened to her, to her beloved Kirk and her beautiful children who she worried so much about leaving behind.

Lisa said she would do anything - any treatment they could give her - if it meant she could be their mom longer.
And she did.

Lisa, I am going to miss you so much. You did not fail - medicine failed you. No one could have fought harder than you
or with such grace and dignity. Lauren, Kyra and Jake will be OK. You did a wonderful job raising them and Kirk is such a dear and caring father, he will make sure your legacy of love, faith and generosity of the heart lives on in them.

Thank you for the kindness, the laughter and the love you showed me. Thank you for being so supportive to so many. Thank you for being my friend. We will meet again and when that day comes, I will hug you and tell you how very much you meant to all of us here on earth.

I will never forget you my sweet friend.

Do not stand at my grave and weep.

I am not there, I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow.

I am the diamond glint on snow.

I am the sunlight on ripened grain.

I am the gentle autumn rain.

When you wake in the morning hush,

I am the swift, uplifting rush

Of quiet birds in circling flight.

I am the soft starlight at night.

I am the song that will never end.

I am the love of family and friend.

I am the child who has come to rest

In the arms of the Father who knows him best.

When you see the sunset fair,

I am the scented evening air.

I am the joy of a task well done.

I am the glow of the setting sun.

Do not stand at my grave and weep.

I am not there, I do not sleep.

Do not stand at my grave and cry.

I am not there, I did not die!

Monday, December 10, 2007

At Last

The untold want, by life and land ne'er granted,
Now, Voyager, sail thou forth, to seek and find.
Walt Whitman

The untold want. A desire to be free, to be myself again. To be able to measure my days in what unfolds before me and not be controlled by outside circumstances. A want of a life and land that was never granted me because I was singled out to take a different road, a road where there is no compass and once on it there seems to be no end.

But there is an end. After nine months I finally reached it. And before me lies all the beauty this world has to offer. I have paid my ticket of admission to be among the living again. And live is what I intend to do.

I know that one day I will be on that dark passage again and I will long for sunlight and the smell of the new moon as it rises in the sky.... but not now. Not yet. Because today I stepped into the sunlight and new moon awaits me. I am not looking back nor will I look any farther than I need to in order to maneuver my vessel towards the open sea.

After nine long months, chemo is over. Finished. Finally completed.

The world is waiting and I hear its call...."Now Voyager, sail thy forth to seek and find...."

I am on my way. At long last.

Saturday, December 1, 2007


"Where can we hide in fair weather, we orphans of the storm?" Evelyn Waugh asked this in Brideshead Revisited and I ask it now.

We have lost many sisters these past few months, and even more have had progression of disease and worsening of their metastasis and there seems to be a steady tide beating away at the beach head of any ground our doctors have conquered.

While we are in remission or stable or even cured, are we ever safe? Can we ever take a moment and enjoy freedom from the Beast's grasp? It seems like every time we exhale and think we are safe, someone else is given horrid news. How and where can we hide from the pain and fear and yet still be there for our sisters who need us?

Running a breast cancer website, message forum, blog, and belonging to two other breast cancer websites, being in chemotherapy and writing for breast cancer magazines, I have felt inundated lately. I feel every where I turn I am in cancer in some way, shape or form. Worrying about my friends with advanced disease though gives me the drive to continue and go on and keep fighting and finding ways to help smooth rough patches of road, ease a fearful mind, hold a trembling hand and hug someone who just needs it.

When I was healthy, before cancer, I had no idea of this world I am living in now. It is large and getting larger every moment. We all seem to know one another. That goes with the territory and it is one of the nicer parts of this world. That tacit understanding between two people which needs no words at all. We just know. Know what each other is thinking, feeling, and fearing.

That is why I know many readers of this blog are afraid now because we have the same friends and we are all sad for those who have passed and scared for those who are facing difficult times ahead.

Should we, the orphans of this cancer storm, indeed find a place to hide, for even just a moment?

We could. But reality will be waiting for us when we come out- come out from where ever we were....

Or should we instead realize that we all have today. And today should not be spent mourning our diagnoses and the changes that have come with them. It happened. We were diagnosed with breast cancer. But is that all we are now? No. There is so much more to life, so much more to us than to spend the rest of our todays thinking of them as yesterdays.

We may have given over a part of ourselves to cancer, but we have not relinquished control over our lives. We still decide how we choose to spend our days and what is important, and what we want to remember.

In fair weather, when things are going well, we need not hide because we deserve to enjoy every moment of every day when things are going well. We should resist the temptation to feel guilty that we are well when one of our beloved friends is struggling. We can take our energy and send it on to her in hopes that she will gain strength from us.

We can't hide from the Beast or bad news or reality. But we can control how we spend each precious moment of every day we have here on earth. That is something the Beast cannot touch.

Let the storms rage. We have each other. We have today. We will be here for those who need us always.

We owe it to ourselves to live the best lives possible while we can.

We owe it to all who went before us too. For they would want nothing less from us.

And I owe it to those who give me the greatest joy in life. My twin nephews see me as just their aunt- not the cancer patient... and that is the way it should be. Because I was their aunt first and will always be. The patient is only a passing thing and we will move on to bigger and better things. Here we are at Thanksgiving, no hiding here.