My journey... into limbo?

September 26th, 2007 
My journey... into limbo?
Category: Life


So I made it this far, but where am I really?  Treatment wise I endured five weeks of chemo combined with external radiation.  I followed that with six excruciating internal high dose radiation treatments.  These babies were not fun.  I had to get a spinal for each (a needle stuck into my spine that numbs you from the waist down) and I had two treatments per week for three weeks. Currently I'm getting more external radiation.  I have one more treatment left, its tomorrow.  After that treatment my body will not be able to take any more radiation.  My organs will melt or something.  I had an MRI last week and it showed there was still
tumor present.  Are these last few doses of radiation going to kill it?  Will it spread if I stop treatments and some of it is still there? Would getting surgery at this point be of any benefit?  Of course I asked my doctor all of these questions and the answer is, they just don't know.
 
This has put me in a difficult dilemma.  Currently, after this week, the plan is to "wait and see" what happens.  This doesn't work so well for me… I have lots of plans for next few years and I'd like to make damn sure I'm around to do them.  With that in mind, you can see how this "wait and see" plan is not going to fly.

As soon as I wrapped my head around fighting this thing I decided it would be a multi faceted attack.  I listened to all the advice the doctors gave me and got agreed to every treatment they recommended. I researched as much as possible about fighting cancer with nutrition.  Lastly, and possibly most importantly, I dove into the psychology behind cancer.  I continue to find more and more evidence about how much our mental state and our mind can help or hinder when it comes to cancer.  Doctors time and time again witness patients with the least physical hope but the most mental determination triumph, when patients that lose hope lose their lives.  Of course our minds cannot cure everything, but I'm not taking any chances.

I have another twist to this story I haven't mentioned before.  In addition of having cancer, during the treatments I decided to have some genetic testing done.  My mother and grandmother both died from breast cancer at very young ages.  My sister was tested and is positive for the BRCA2 mutation – the breast cancer gene. (Google it) I thought since there was a 50/50 chance, that I would have dodged the bullet.  I thought that since my sister had it, I wouldn't.  Wrongo! I tested positive for the BRCA2 mutation as well.  This means that in my lifetime I have an 87% chance of getting breast cancer and a 40% chance of getting ovarian cancer.  There are a few more cancers that are associated with this gene mutation, but these are the two big players.  What is the cherry on top of this gloom and doom sundae?  Cervical cancer is not one of them!  I have a cancer that is totally unrelated to the one that I have a ridiculously high risk for.

This was of course bad news, but it did explain a few things.  Although there have been no official studies, I think the fact that I have the BRCA2 mutation explains why my cancer grew so fast.  The BRCA2 mutation not only raises your chances of getting certain types of cancers, it hinders your body's ability to suppress tumors.  It's like a short circuit in my cells that doesn't tell them when to stop multiplying when they should.

So now can you see the entirety of my dilemma?  I have cancer that may or may not be gone after these treatments, I have a cancer shotgun aimed at me with the BRCA2 gene and there is really nothing more my doctors can do for me here.  So where does this all leave me?  Savoring every minute I have. 

As messed up as this might sound, cancer has been the best thing that has ever happened to me.  I have always lived and loved passionately, worked hard towards goals and tried not to take things for granted.  With the rocky road that I've been down, I've learned that everyday we have is a gift.  I've witnessed enough loss in my life to know that right now is all we really have.  What the cancer did for me is burn this into my soul.  It also shook things up so much that everyone in my life showed me their true colors.  I discovered the meaning of true friendship because of the cancer.  The cancer also showed me who in my life were actually monsters under cool exteriors, and forced me to let them go.

I cannot explain how much more wonderful it is to hear my kids voices.  My true friends and family have shone like sunshine through this dark cloud and I cherish each and every one of them in a way that I didn't before.  This experience has been an awakening for me.  I'm so excited to live the rest of my life, I cannot put it into words.  So I still have some work to do, so I still have to be smart about cancer and my future, so the fight's not over.  I can still love every minute here in between rounds.
 

(Continue to - "Out of the Frying pan, into the fire")


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