I'm pretty sure that starting a post with the word "well" is not considered to be stellar prose, but sometimes, words fail us. Sometimes we discover that we are not nearly as strong as we think we are. Sometimes we are reminded that life isn't as fair as we want it to be. Sometimes, we can feel the monster that has been chasing us getting ever so close. Sometimes, the monster catches us.
The monster caught me.
The Tuesday before Christmas the nagging cough that had been plaguing me for weeks escalated into difficulty breathing. A trip to the ER confirmed that the asthma diagnosis I had been given just 10 days earlier was definitely not asthma. A chest x-ray quickly revealed the truth. I had enlarged nodes in my lungs and spots in both lungs of various sizes - spots that were consistent with metastatic breast cancer. The monster was back, and it had colonized new territory.
A whirlwind of tests and scans followed including two CT scans which also showed lesions on my liver. Additional PET Scans and a liver biopsy confirmed what we had all fully come to expect. It's the very same cancer I started out with eight years ago. It just found some new terrain it liked, including a spot on my hip bone and a spot on one of my lumbar vertebrae, and my immune system just couldn't keep up. I'm pretty proud of my white blood cells for doing so well for so many years. But even the best defenses can get overwhelmed by the monster. So, it's time to call in the big guns again. Chemotherapy.
Those of you who know me well are aware that this is the part where I attempt to find the positive side of things. But, the thing is, I do have an awful lot of positives. I have an amazing network of support - Lanny and Jasper, my Mom, and so many of you who have stepped up and said, "Just let us know what you need." I have a totally supportive work environment. I am, in all other respects, very healthy. My breathing is strong again. I have good insurance. I have a yoga and meditation practice that keeps me clear headed and grateful for each day. And I have the advances of medical science in my corner with, what my fabulous oncologist calls, "some amazing new drugs."
I had a port installed today, and I have my first infusion on Friday. I used to have a Caring Bridge site, but since I can't quite remember how to access it to make more posts, I've decided to resurrect my blog. It feels like the right place to share the journey anyway, because, as awesome as Caring Bridge is, it's meant to be a place to share health information. And I am so much more than my cancer. My cancer is simply a part of me. I have a lot more to talk about than cancer. Granted, it may dominate the conversion for awhile, and I won't pretend that I'm not concerned, and I still wish I didn't have to do this, but I don't plan to go anywhere anytime soon.
So, I guess sometimes we do find the words. Sometimes we discover that we are a lot stronger than we thought. Sometimes, we discover that life is unfair and messy, but also beautiful and generous. Sometimes, we turn around and face the monster, and when we step out of the shadows into the full light of day, we discover that the monster loses its fangs and claws. Sometimes we grab hold of the monster and decide to tame it. I think we can do it.