Sunday, October 30, 2011

I get knocked down, but I get up again...

Sundays have always been hard for me, since I was a kid.  I remember when "60 minutes" came on at 7pm Sunday night. The ticking stopwatch an ominous reminder that my free time was coming to a close, and that pit of anxiety in my stomach--the unfinished homework, the start of another week of school.  That feeling returned when I started working a 'real job', the Monday through Friday, 8 to 5, kind.  I can never really enjoy Sunday afternoons and evenings because of the knowledge that another long work week lies before me.  Now, ironically, when I have no work week to dread, I still have Monday as my Chemotherapy day.

Tomorrow is my last treatment with the Adriamycin/Cytoxan regime. I am almost done with my first stage of treatment. I am excited, of course, to be finishing up getting dosed with these horribly strong poisons.  At times, I just find it ridiculous that the "cure" for this disease seems to be worse than the disease itself.  Especially since I was told my tumor was completely removed during my mastectomy.  I wonder what quality of life I am giving up to gain more quantity, and if it is worth it.

Last week, against my better judgement, I checked out a book from the library called "I Am Not My Breast Cancer".  I was looking for the book about emotional healing I found on Lena's blog My Personal Lens. Unfortunately, it wasn't even on the inter-library network, so if I want to read it, I will need to buy it. I haven't read any books about breast cancer since I was diagnosed, except for the Susan G. Komen breast cancer manual my surgeon gave to me on the day I was diagnosed, and the pamphlets on chemo side effects.  This is in direct contrast to my normal behavior, in that, when I get interested in something, I must find out everything I can about it; internet, books, whatever.  I guess the key word here is 'interested'.  I find that I really DON'T want to read about all the horrible things that might happen to me during this whole experience. Even listening to survivors telling me about what happened to them during their treatments with the drugs that I'm using or going to have to use doesn't appeal to me.  Am I in denial? I don't think so. I just don't want to front load my already anxious brain with things that may or may not happen to me.  If they do, I know I will deal with them, but I don't want to THINK about it before I have to.

The book "I Am Not My Breast Cancer" is a compilation of hundreds of women's thoughts about their experiences with breast cancer.  I read it in three days, and I cried for three days.  The stories in it are both positive and negative, happy and sad, joyful and painful.  I could relate to some of the experiences relayed, and was appalled by what other women had to endure. I cried for both myself and for them.  Additionally, the fact that I'm so grateful to be finishing up one cycle of hell is tempered by the reality that I have 3 more to endure.  I have up to this point been happily oblivious to what comes after January.  Now I know, and it fills me with dread.  Most everything I read about the effects of tamoxifen, an estrogen suppressant that I will need to take for 5 years because of my estrogen positive tumor, is horrifying to me.   I realize that most of my friends and family are looking at the end of my chemotherapy treatments in January, as the end of my cancer treatment and then my life will go back to normal.  And externally, it will begin to look like it.  My hair will grow back, my boob will be rebuilt, but the truth is, it will not be over, not until I'm 45.  Five years of my life just to try to get to 10 years without recurrence, and no guarantees it will.

So, I think that I will go back to focusing on one thing at a time, and try to forget what I know about the future. My fortune cookie today said: "Today your luck will change".  I will try to believe that it will change for the better.
Self Portrait BBC (before breast cancer)


  1. I have a couple friends on tamoxifen, and they are doing very well with no side effects. I am scheduled to take another med whose name I can't spell at the moment. I am worried about those side effects as well, but like you I trying not to dwell on it.

    Too bad you could not find the other book. If you are meant to read it, it will appear.

    Love your writing. You express many things in a way I wish I could.

  2. Hi Lena! I'm really hoping for "not too much trouble"!! I'm interested to know what you are going on and how you're doing with it... Thanks for stopping by! Lori


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