Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The New Normal


Before I was diagnosed with breast cancer the first time, I was blissfully unaware of anything to do with breast cancer. It wasn’t until I sat in an examination room at the Peninsula Cancer Institute huddled around the exam table with my oncologist and my husband that I’d even heard of triple negative breast cancer.  When the appointment was done, I walked out of the room, went home and did what any other woman would have done; jumped on Google and scared myself half to death with what I found. 

Page after page of percentages, death sentences, little hope, and little research. 

As I shared the news with family and friends I was met with a tremendous amount of love and support.
I went through all of my treatments and was so happy when the last one came. My oncologist was pleased with the way I handled the rounds of chemo. She was satisfied when she looked at my blood counts. She ordered an mri that came back clean. Then she said the magic words... “I think it’s time to remove your port.” 

For those that don’t know, a port is a little piece that they put in you; it was put in my chest, just under my collarbone. This is where the nurses place your iv to administer chemo. Why not just a traditional iv you ask? Well, because the chemo is so toxic, that it can fry your veins. Sounds lovely right? Makes you wonder how they came up with something: that can kill cancer in the body, that nurses have to wear special gear to administer, that they charge you an additional fee for handling of the medications, but won’t kill off the rest of you as it flows through those veins that the port is protecting...huh?? I don’t get it, but I don’t get paid the big bucks to get it.
So, happy day, my port comes out. I get hugged by friends and family for getting through treatment. I hear,

 “I’m so glad you’re going to be alright!” “Aren’t you glad it’s over?” “Now you can move on with your life.”

Can I move on? Is it over? Am I really going to be okay?

No, it’s not over. That’s hard for people to understand. It was hard for me to understand.
I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t moving on. Why didn’t I have that feeling that everything was going to be okay? Why wasn’t I getting back to normal?

Well this is what I know. I know that I still go to check ups with my oncologist. She checks my blood. She physically checks lymph nodes in my torso. She checks my breasts and all around them for any lumps or abnormalities. We talk about the challenges that I face physically and more importantly mentally. She sends me for mammograms, mris, bone density, ct scans...etc as part of my check up. If I go in with a cough, I get sent for an x-ray. If I have a headache, I get sent for a ct scan. If I have a pain, I get sent in for an mri. When I’m in the middle of conversations, I lose my train of thought, other thoughts flood into my brain, I stutter, then I begin to panic and try to grasp hold of something in my brain that will help me remember what I was saying or thinking. God bless my husband, my daughter, my son and my mother. I don’t even know if they realize that they have begun to help me recall what I was talking about and continue conversations, but they do. 

I’ve never been told that I’m cured. The closest I came was a few months ago. It was the first time that I had mammogram results come back saying no evidence of cancer. I was so excited that I celebrated with family, I posted on Facebook, I cried. The following month I was in an mri machine having another biopsy because of a spot that looked suspicious. So here I am a few months later, just starting a blog while sitting on my couch and dealing with a tough mastectomy recovery. Yeah, cancer again.

So back to my questions:
Can I move on? Is it over? Am I really going to be okay?

Yeah, I’m moving on. There’s so much to enjoy in life. I have a phenomenal family that I have to keep up with. Soccer games to cheer on, dance recitals to enjoy, bowling leagues to high five my son’s strikes and fist bump his gutters. 

No, I realize now that it will never be over. Not as long as there is another test, appointment or needle scheduled with my name on it.

Yes, I will absolutely be okay!! I have my crazy supportive family, sisters, friends, Falcons J and medical team cheering me on! My mother always told me that I was stubborn and had to have the last word when fussing. Regardless of what my oncologist says or what any test shows, I will be okay. I know that all things are in His hands. So for now, I’m going along for the ride. Enjoying each day, stopping to see the leaves changing colors and getting used to my new normal.

6 comments:

  1. Angie, never forget that although you may have cancer, you also have a life. Focus on that New Normal - there's a lot more going for it than you would have imagined pre-cancer. Onwards and upwards!

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    1. That's so true!! I do not think that I would appreciate my life or worked for the things that I've recently accomplished if I was not diagnosed. Each diagnosis has brought something new and positive into my life.

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  2. I love your upbeat spirit and I know how hard it is to positive all the time but when dealing with all the stuff that comes with cancer, it becomes a lifeline. And you are so right, regardless to what any test shows or what the doctor says you will be alright because you control how you respond to what happens to you. This is something I continue to remind myself of. Take care Angie.

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    1. Angeline, I do try to stay as positive as I can. It helps me stay upbeat about it all and not dwell on what could be and instead focus on what is in front of me. I hope your appointment went well! I've been thinking of you.

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  3. Angie I am so encouraged by your attitude. Do you know there is another way, an easier way. This morning my friend called me about a lady with breast cancer - I encouraged her wrote her a diet sheet and told her what supplements to take.
    i am routing for you and I know you will make it.

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    1. Thank you Treasure! Diet has always been one of my weakest points. It's a daily struggle.

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