Sunday, August 24, 2008

Feeling Lucky

I've always considered myself a fortunate person.  Maybe I watch too much CNN, but I've always found it easy to see stories of things going on in other people's lives and think, "I don't know how people handle it."  There are always tragedies, stories, etc. that are sad and destroy lives.  I've always thought that I'd never be able to handle something tragic.  I imagine I would curl in a ball on the floor and never be able to get up again.  I imagine Jason having to figure out how to pick me up, and how to explain to Rory the puddle her mother has become. 

I've never lost a close, close friend or family member.  I've not dealt with devastating, life-changing news.  Even now, with cancer, I don't feel I have.  I still feel so much like I'm living my normal life, just with some changes.  The day I got the news I had cancer, I was a puddle, I admit.  I was also recovering from outpatient surgery and the drugs.  But honestly, sending out the email to family and friends later that day and announcing what was going on made all the difference.  Plus, treatment thus far has been good.  I still feel very lucky. 

I've met other survivors, 20 years older than me, who have told me that it's normal to feel terrified, to wonder if I'm going to die, to wonder if I'm going to see Rory get married.  What no one has told some of these people is that it's also normal NOT to wonder about these things.  They don't cross my mind.  I have good doctors who have told me that I'm curable.  That's that.  I do what they tell me to do.  I read and learn and share.  And I live my life.  Maybe it's just that those people who are going through it when they are older don't have this sense of invincibility that comes with only being 36 and facing cancer.  Or maybe it's just something about how I'm wired.  Jason and my friends and family are often commenting on how strong I am, how well I'm handling this all, etc.  I just don't know any different.  I look around and realize I'm just fortunate.  In our house, the phrase, "You just never know what's going on in someone else's house" has become popular, as there are many, many people dealing with difficult times and situations, just like us.  Our eyes have opened with more empathy than ever. 

Friday, August 22, 2008

5 down, 1 to go

Wednesday was my 5th chemo treatment of six.  Rather than be in what they call "pods", rooms where up to 6 people are getting their treatment in lounge chairs, I got a private room with a bed.  I think they were just busy, but it was AWESOME!  I called Rebecca to see if she wanted to come visit.  Jason said, "Jill, this isn't CAMP!" but it felt like it.  I could talk on my cell phone and not worry about bothering people, etc.  There was a nice table where Jason could set up his laptop and work.  And we had a great nurse (Marilyn) who didn't screw up my IV.  Next week Jason and I will meet with the surgeon to see what's next.  They say that about 3-4 weeks after my last treatment (last treatment is Sept 10, three weeks later is Oct 1), I would have surgery.  Lumpectomy probably along with having all the lymph nodes removed from under my left armpit, which is the part that makes recovery longer.  Apparently those lymph nodes handle some kind of fluid, so you have to wear a drain for 1-3 weeks afterward until your body creates a work-around.  It limits the mobility on that side a lot, and that's the tough part of the recovery.  Then after full surgery recovery, I'll have 6 weeks of radiation, which should be much easier than chemo (though chemo has been pretty good to me).  Then, hopefully, all is good and well, maybe even finished by Christmas!! 

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Clear as a Bell

Just a quick note to let you all know that I'm doing much better.  Monday was rough, but I went to bed early and woke up Tuesday morning clear as a bell again.  Completely back to normal (insert your own joke here).  I think we were all a little surprised by Monday, but now that we know it can happen, we know how to handle it.  Thanks for all the notes, encouragement, support, and reminders of things I said or did on Monday (kidding!). 

Monday, August 4, 2008

Not Skittles and Rainbows

My friend, Ginnie, recently posted a comment on here stating that it's ok to share when everything isn't "skittles and rainbows".  First, I have to say, Ginnie, that I love that phrase and have adopted it.  Hope you don't mind.  Secondly, it's not skittles and rainbows right now.   This treatment (#4) has really hit me.  The doc said the most common side effect of treatment to build a cumulative effect is the fatigue and this one got me.  Usually on treatment day, I sleep for about 20 minutes during treatment, then just go to bed early that night.  Otherwise, I'm pretty good.  This time, I slept through half my treatment, including falling asleep while our friend Melissa was visiting us and dropping off dinner at treatment!  (Sorry, Melissa!)  I slept the whole ride home, and then about 3 hours in the afternoon.  For a few days I have to take my anti-nausea meds, which have a nice little stimulant in them, so I usually feel decent through the weekend.  This weekend, I was just a bit more tired than usual.  But today, I'm a bit of a mess.  Very tired, emotionally off track.  Not sure I've mentioned the effects of all this on my hormones before, but basically chemo sends you into menopause, so I'm sure I'm tough to be around.  I feel like I went through an accelerated menopause PLUS I'm tired.  My head is a little fuzzy, like I'm just moving slowly.  It's kind of like the hormonal roller coaster of being pregnant, but without the happy little glow.  Rory decided this weekend to be a true two-year-old and wore us all out a bit, too.  As always, family and friends are helping out, for which I am grateful.  So, keep your fingers crossed for me and send any extra energy and focus you might have my way, as I can use it.  Love you all!