"Spirit lead me where my trust is without boarders, let me walk upon the waters, wherever you would call me."
I finally finished chemo on Wednesday, May 20! One day after our 3rd year anniversary! Charlie and I celebrated with an amazing home cooked meal with our family and a nice night at home. It was a joyous day. We then continued the celebration by retreating to Eminence, MO for a long and quiet weekend. We had little to no cell service while there, and honestly it was a huge blessing to just stop and relax for a few days.
Since I've last written, I've experienced a new wave of symptoms from chemo. My fingernails and toenails started to die and detach from the skin. I lost my eyebrows and eyelashes (sad day), and I developed symptoms of neuropathy in my fingers and toes. (Neuropathy is weakness, numbness, and pain due to nerve damage in the body.) But other than that, my symptoms stayed fairly controlled. I was extremely lucky throughout this process and remained healthy for the majority of those long five and a half months. My only major downfall is that I craved cheeseburgers. I LOVED cheeseburgers and ate them multiple times a day when allowed.
All of the side effects wore off about a month after chemo stopped and my hair is finally growing back! Slowly, but surely, it's coming. I've stopped wearing my wig because it was hot and rubbing off some of the new hair that was growing. I'll still wear it occasionally, but I've found a new sense of freedom in going just as myself. I tried hats, but they itched and hurt my head. So all bald and bold is who I am! Roar!
I'll be honest. The end of chemo was exciting, and yet it was surprisingly sad. I found myself missing chemo. At first I thought it was the staff I missed, and the weekly visits I got to spend with friends and family. But there was something more that chemo offered that I initially didn't think about. Chemo in a weird way provided me with a sense of comfort. Comfort in the fact that I was surrounded by people who were dealing with the same thing I was. Comfort in the fact that something was being done to help cure me and I wasn't getting worse. Comfort in seeing my doctor on a weekly basis. I guess I hadn't anticipated feeling like that, I only anticipated joy from being done. It was a strange feeling.
It's July 9 and radiation has somewhat began. I started radiation only to find out that my body wasn't aligning correctly with the radiation machine, and we had to re-map my body. This wasn't an issue, just slow and extremely time consuming. I'll finish radiation treatments at the end of August. I've heard radiation is a walk in the park compared to chemo...I'll let you know how it turns out.
I will have a grand total of 33 rounds of radiation and I will go to the hospital every week day until finished. After radiation is complete, I have a decision to make. I can be put on Tamoxifen (a hormone pill) for 10 years, or take an ovarian suppressant in the form a shot every 3 months + horomone pills every day for the next 10 years. The shot + pills is a better option in decreased recurrence rates, but it also has more side effects and will put my body in a constant state of menopause.
I switched oncologists and that has been a huge blessing as well. My new doctor explains things to me in a way I can understand and make better decisions. She is open to my feelings and concerns and I cannot tell you how she is like a fresh of breath air for me. She's also extremely honest and I so appreciate this. Before her, the only person who would tell me the truth without surgar-coating anything was my chemo nurse, Deb. I love Deb as well.
Now the hard part kicks in. Honestly, up to this point, this whole process hasn't been too difficult for me. (I'm extremely lucky God has protected my mind, health, and emotions during this.) After I switched oncologists, I finally asked her what my overall survival rate/reoccurance rate was. My stomach dropped a little when she looked at me and said, "Are you sure? It's not good." Ummm....what do you mean? I thought breast cancer was curable? And I'm doing amazing!
While all of those things were true, I was still looking at an overall survival rate of 44%. I'll be honest. That was hard to hear. I had expected a 95-100% survival rate. I was pretty numb for 2-3 days, but then by God's grace again, I woke up one morning and felt at peace. For some reason, if the cancer does come back and I don't beat it, I die. That's not that terrible. (My family and husband disagree with me here.) Because of my faith, I know where I will be going and I'm not worried. I will continue to pray for it not to come back, for this to be the only time I have to deal with cancer, but if it does, I'm totally at peace about it. I can't fix it or change it. Only trust God.
Not to brag or anything...but I kicked chemo's butt. I did. But I didn't do it alone. I will continue to say it, its because of my amazing support system. Because of everyone who prayed, brought food, sent cards, gifts, words of encouragement, your hospital visits, and everything else. My nurses and doctors still continue to be amazed at how many people I have been surrounded by during this process. Seriously, YOU ARE ALL AMAZING!! and I'm usually brought to tears when I think of everything that's been done for us. Thank you.
What you can do:
- Pray radiation goes well with limited to no side effects.
- Pray I have complete and total healing. No more cancer, ever.
Baby Abe and I are twins.
No more chemo!!
Just another day at chemo.