Four Years Ago
Four Years Ago I found out that not only did I have cancer but it was Stage 4. That day and my emotions are forever etched into my brain. After my first surgery I woke with fire in my eyes and the goal of all goals, become resectable against the odds and then achieve those three little words that all people diagnosed with Cancer fantasize about, No Evidence of Disease. I rapidly achieved part 1 of the goal, becoming resectable and even achieved the big goal for a short period of time and oh what a glorious time that was.
Today, four years later, I am sitting in the chemo chair for 4-5 hours, for my second session of adding back in the nasty oxalyplatin and moving from what I have been calling chemo light to the more aggressive combo. Hoping that the side effects will be less than two weeks ago. Hoping that my body tolerates this stuff once again. Hoping that I can keep myself hydrated as I attempt 5-7 days of drinking and eating only warm things. Hoping that I will be able to get food down and keep it down. Hoping that this will be the last dance ensemble with oxalyplatin. Hoping that these will be my last rounds of chemo. Hoping to finally put this portion of my cancer journey to bed especially since I truly thought we had finally conquered the “flea shit” (medical term per Dr. Lenz) on my lungs. I was feeling good, energy was flowing and there was no doubt the scan would show stability at the least and clear at the best. Instead, I found out the flea shit had grown slightly and it was back to the old chemo regiment and the big girl pants were coming out again.
The first round with oxalyplatin back in the cocktail hit me hard. I woke up at 3am Friday morning, was nauseous and luckily made my way to the bathroom in time. I can’t remember the last time I threw up because of chemo. I have had great luck keeping it at bay but not this time. I took the anti nausea meds and headed back to bed only to wake up again about 7:30 am once again sick which set me up for dehydration. Luckily I had an appointment to get the chemo pump removed so they pumped me with fluids. I just wanted to get through the day and was hopeful that Sat would be a better and brighter day.
Now I sit in the chair for round 2 the day before Thanksgiving. Sitting next to me is Fred, a stage 3 colon cancer fighter who recently found out his mass is gone and is now doing some mop up chemo. He is retired and decided after being diagnosed that his golden years were not going to be cut short by cancer. He is a funny, thoughtful and genuine person. Colon cancer runs in his family but he had no idea that it was slowly growing within his own body. I know you all have heard me encouraging everyone I know to please get a colonoscopy as soon as possible and if it runs in your family you should be getting it 10 years prior to the diagnosis of a relative. Colon cancer is one of those that if caught early can be managed with a quick snip of the polyp all during a colonoscopy. I know many people are afraid of getting a colonoscopy but really it is not that bad. The prep sucks and there is a lot of time on the toilet clearing out but the actual colonoscopy is easy peezy so if you have been waiting, stop, make the appointment, it might just save your life.
I’ve started seeing a new Chinese Herb Doctor. His name is Dr. Bunch and he is located downtown at the Pacific Wellness Center. He worked for years with the Cancer Centers of America doing integrative cancer care and now he is in private practice. He does acupuncture and herbs. I’ve started seeing him once a week and he will begin filling my herbs next week. I’m excited to have a new person on my team and know that his expertise is going to support my system as it battles the cancer and is ravaged by the chemo.
Over the years I’ve had many people ask me how I stay so positive about my journey. You should know that sometimes I ask myself how I stay so positive about my journey. What I have found is I feel better when I’m positive. My mood and my thoughts impact the health of my body. I do have my days where I think to myself how in the hell am I’m going to get through more chemo? How am I going to stay positive and keep moving forward? It comes down to letting things go from yesterday, focusing on the present moment and literally putting one foot in front of the other. Then of course there is my family, Madi, Lucy and Jon and what other option do I have but to stay positive and believe that I will beat the monster within me. When you are faced with life or death you can either curl up and go to mush or you can stand tall, dig deep to find the courage, laugh, smile, and make a difference.
I choose to be positive. I choose to believe. I choose to love the life that has been given to me even though it threw me an unwanted curveball. Life is a series of choices so make them your best choices.
As many of you know I love the holidays. I love the craziness. I love finding the perfect gifts for friends and family. I love the wrapping. I love the baking. I love the smells. I love the lights. Most of all I love the gratitude I feel every holiday season. Our family has truly been blessed. I know many people get overwhelmed and stressed during the holidays and my hope for those people this year is that they are able to take a deep breath and enjoy the craziness of it all. Embrace the love and joy and even if life is throwing shit at you try your best to flip that shit around into a positive. I promise you it will be life changing. I urge you to smile a little bigger, connect with friends and family, do something for someone else with no expectation of something in return, and make time for yourself. You will be feeding your soul. The more you feed your soul the more you can spread joy and happiness to those around you.
Wishing you all a very Happy Thanksgiving, wherever and however you are spending the day, embrace it and enjoy.
DARE TO BE – by Steve Maraboli
” Dare to Be
When a new day begins, dare to smile gratefully.
When there is darkness, dare to be the first to shine a light.
When there is injustice, dare to be the first to condemn it.
When something seems difficult, dare to do it anyway.
When life seems to beat you down, dare to fight back.
When there seems to be no hope, dare to find some.
When you’re feeling tired, dare to keep going.
When times are tough, dare to be tougher.
When love hurts you, dare to love again.
When someone is hurting, dare to help them heal.
When another is lost, dare to help them find the way.
When a friend falls, dare to be the first to extend a hand.
When you cross paths with another, dare to make them smile.
When you feel great, dare to help someone else feel great too.
When the day has ended, dare to feel as you’ve done your best.
Dare to be the best you can-
At all times, Dare to Be!”
Angels in the Sky
Hugs and Kisses,
Tara – TSFC!