Friday, July 26, 2013

The Year Mark

This day last year I noticed my dads oxygen levels were getting lower despite being on the full setting of the ventilator. This day last year was the beginning of the end and he passed two days later. It has been hard not to relive each day spent in the hospital over the last month, especially since I've spent some time in the same hospital for my own cancer treatments.

One thing that has been so strongly apparent to me is that I'm so happy to be where I'm at on this July 26th than where I was last year. That seems strange. My dad is gone now, I got cancer, I'm doing toxic treatments that will hopefully prevent this cancer from returning, although its no guarantee, and in the meantime could cause me secondary cancers, permanent heart damage, etc.Who the hell would want to be here!? Well, there is nothing worse than watching a loved one pass away, and to be able to do nothing about it, to feel completely helpless.  This year, the burden is mine, this cancer-I own it. It's so much easier to feel in control of a situation when the situation is yours to control. I was a different person at this time last year. I was so innocent, so ignorant, my life was so easy up until that point. This year I am hardened, toughened, and my shell is callused. I no longer freak out over the  small things and let them consume me because I know what real pain is and I know what the big things are. I also know that you can live through real pain, survive it, and get stronger. Prior to my father's illness, back in the sunshine and rainbow filled first 32.5 years of my life, I used to pray to God to grant me an easy time here on Earth. Please spare me from losing my loved ones before they are old and grey, please spare me from major illness. "I'm not strong enough to handle things like that, God." I said.  Out loud. On more than one occaission. But my life's path had plans to show me that I was strong. And my situation this year is mine to control, and finally, I know that I am strong enough to to handle the hard things.

I wonder what my dad would think of my situation. If he were here I think he'd be strong, I think he would comfort my mom, and I think he'd bring comic relief. I still think he does those things. I feel comfort right now, sitting in this hospital bed and getting a chemo infusion. Last year at this time I would stand by his bed and talk to him but I didn't know if he heard me. This year, I know he does.

I miss you every single minute of every single day, Dad. This has been the hardest year of my life, and filled with more pain than I could have ever imagined. I've spent the last year trying to make sense of your death. But if I believe that it was so that you could watch over me and guide me, then it makes the pain bearable. The day I see you again in Heaven will be a glorious one, but I hope it's not for at least 40 more years.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Hanging In There

This Friday will be Taxol/Herceptin treatment #4! We are moving right along. I'm a little nervous about my white blood counts. As I mentioned before, when I was on AC treatment, I got the Neulasta shot which boosts my white blood cells to help me fight infection. It worked awesomely. With weekly Taxol they don't give the Neulasta shot because its not as bad on your blood counts as Adriamycin and Cytoxan. Last week before Taxol #3 my WBC was 2.3 and the week before it was 3.2. So it's steadily going down. I'm not sure at what point they postpone chemo but I hope I don't hit it...I just want to get this over with and start getting my life back to normal. Please pray that my blood counts maintain and I am able to do my chemo as scheduled and also that I avoid any infections. Last year at this time, my dad was in the ICU with sepsis and Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome. This was brought on by him being on immune suppressing drugs. Needless to say, I've seen what can happen to immune suppressed people and it terrifies me but I know that my Dad is my guardian angel and keeping me strong!

I have been so blessed to have such strong and amazing women beside me in my fight. During my second chemo treatment I was surprised by two of my survivor girlfriends, Renee and Margo. They showed up looking beautiful and turned my chemo room into a party, complete with all of Renee's wigs from when she went through chemo.  I spent the morning trying on wigs and laughing with my friends who had fought cancer, and made it look like a fool. I am so blessed to have these examples of what strength and cancer ass kicking means. This past week, I was lucky to have my friend Amanda getting her treatment at the same time that I did. Amanda is 30 years old and was diagnosed just days after me. We've gone through everything together in this journey and I'd be lost if I didn't have someone who knew exactly what I was going through because they were going through it too, at the exact same time. When I made myself at home on my chemo bed last week, I looked across the hall and saw two young women talking , one of whom had her back to me. Turns out it was my friend Nichole, another survivor, and one whose advice to me was priceless early in my diagnosis. She was visiting her friend Hope who was from out of town but getting her Herceptin treatment at Hershey. Hope is a beautiful mother of 4 who was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. She has had significant improvement in her cancer from her treatments but was recently diagnosed with a tumor in her brain which I have no doubt will be successfully treated too. We got to chat for a while and she was such a wealth of knowledge, positivity, and no pun intended, hope. Please pray for each of these women that I've mentioned...they have been sn inspiration to me and deserve nothing but health and happiness.

Thank you to everyone who has donated to my Making Strides Against Breast Cancer team!! I hope that a bunch of people will be able to walk with me on October 19th. I'm thinking of having a big fat pink party afterwards :-)