Friday, November 5, 2010

Wow - Three Years

It's hard to believe that I started this blog three years ago. In fact, I missed my three year anniversary of this blog (it was Oct 15, 2007) as well as the three-year mark for my second diagnosis of breast cancer (October 3, 2007).

At the time, I never thought I'd go through what I've been through. Here's a list:

Surgeries: 2 (bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction) with 1 more planned

Radiation: 6 1/2 weeks to kill the cancer in the skin (June 15 to Aug 1 2008)

Mets Diagnoses: Skin - 2 times (right breast area; left armpit); Lung (3 in left side); Bone Marrow - multiple sites; Lymph Nodes - multiple sites; Liver - potential site?

Targeted therapies - Tykerb (March 2008 to January 2009; April 2009 to Nov or Dec 2009); Herceptin (January 2010 to July 2010); Femara (August 2009 to November 2009)

Chemotherapies - Oral Xeloda (March 2008 to December 2008; April 2009 to July 2009); Abraxane (October 2010 to ??)

Open Skin Wounds - Right breast area (March 2008 to February 2009); Left armpit - August 2010 to present)

Depression - two times when it was hard to lift my mood, when I remember envying "normal" people

Worry - multiple times

But there was good news - I achieved "stable disease" from August 2008 to April 2009). And, it looks like I might be headed to stable disease again. (There are two kinds of remission, one in which a patient is NED or no evidence of disease. And, there is "stable disease", which is me, because I may never get rid of the calcium deposits in my bone marrow since they take so long to resolve and the calcium deposits are evidence of disease.)

I have enjoyed incredible support from family, friends, and colleagues. I have reconnected with high school friends through Facebook. I have grown closer to many people. My son is healthy and doing well. I have "met" several cancer bloggers, a few in person and others just online. These women have taught me how to persevere, how to deal with side effects, how to continue living life to the fullest, how to stay connected, how to approach this disease, and I'm happy to continue sharing in their lives through their blogs.

I also have very good medical care providers, including my oncologist, my radiation oncologist, my therapist, my acupuncturist, my wound care nurse, the UW clinical trial doctors, the infusion nurses, my surgeon, my plastic surgeon, and all the nurses who help my doctors.

I feel that I have learned a lot about diet, alternative forms of healing such as Chinese Medicine, and have started my own spiritual search. In terms of spirituality, I have done a lot of reading and have an eclectic mix of things that I believe in. I have had some experiences, too, that can't be explained. I feel like I am healthier mentally and emotionally than I've ever been before.

It's really been a roller coaster ride. It's a metaphor that is probably overused, but at the moment, I can't think of another way to describe it. The truth is that there have been highs and lows. But through my learning of how to cope with this disease, I've learned how to cultivate happiness. I have learned to create gratitude lists. I focus on what I have rather than what I don't. I make a choice each morning deciding that I will be happy. I don't always succeed, but I never feel guilty about that. I do, however, try to let the bad feelings pass through me, now, rather than hold on to them. I feel, though, that with all that I have learned and the recent treatments I have had, I may be poised to enjoy a long period of remission. I have some work to do to enable that - like trying to not eat sugar in my diet (which feeds the cancer) and to practice qigong and meditation more regularly. But I'm getting there.

I wish I could've learned all these lessons without having cancer. I would never wish this on anyone. But that's not the way it turned out. As I'm found of saying nowadays, "It is what it is." Not much I can do about how it happened. I do have control over what will happen next, which is to live a good life and to continue learning how to be a better person.

Because life is good. And, I'm thankful for it and for all the support that I have received. Thank you for reading the blog. Here's to 30 or more years of it, huh? : )


Carver said...

I'll second the toast to 30 or more years! It is amazing how time keeps chugging along. It has been 5 1/2 years since my lymph node dissection for melanoma. I started my blog in August of 2006 so I hit my 4 year blog anniversary in August and didn't even notice.

You have been through so much and I'm glad that you are heading towards stable disease.

Cheers, Carver

Dee said...

@Carver, well, you are one of the cancer bloggers I talked about in this post - as a great model for how to continue living life. I am so happy I was able to meet you in 2008! And, Happy 4th anniversary to you, too! And, 5 1/2 years post dissection - excellent! : ) I still love your pictures, you know.