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Wednesday, 22 August 2012

I Have an Expiry Date!

It is day six past my chemo session and the side effects this time are by far worse than before.  I had been told that the affects are cumulative and that each time you will feel worse, for longer, but well, quite frankly I guess I didn't want to believe it.  As I sit here with the most disgusting tasting metal mouth, sores all over my mouth and throat, nausea, depression and an inability to taste anything, I wonder can it get any worse.  I also wonder does it ever get any better?  Is there light at the end of this long, dark tunnel?  Since I didn't have any answers I reached out to a few people who would.

I spoke to Terry, probably one of the biggest IBC Education advocates in the United States as well as to Suzanne a Canadian woman who was first diagnosed in 2009.  I learned a few things I didn't know and also learned a few things I did not want to know.  For example, did you know that IBC has been around for about 100 years.   Certain cancer agencies refused to put warnings up about it because by the time women find out it is too late and there is no cure.  Imagine that!  Not letting people know that something so deadly exists because you have no answers.  We need to tell women about this so that it can be found earlier.  I know there is no "test" yet for iBC, but there is a big difference in prognosis to find out at a stage III rather than a stage IV (IBC always presents at stage III or IV).  Where normal cancer cells reproduce every 100 days or so, IBC cells reproduce almost daily so catching it as early as possible is important.

Terry is a five year IBC survivor and has had NED (no evidence of disease) for those five years as well.  She said she is part of a small group, but women are living longer with IBC and she knows some women who have been as long as nine years.  It takes a while for all this to settle with me, and I can guarantee it's still not settled, but what I do know is this.  I now have an expiry date.  I may live to be 50, I may not.  It's highly likely I won't see 60 so I might as well come to grips with this and "face it like a man" OMG isn't that hilarious!  Am I mad, yes!  I'm extremely pissed off, frustrated, sad, angry, you name it.  Those who know me know that I've always lived a large life.   I have fun and am crazy and do crazy things and I love living, so I'm very pissed off that cancer has chosen me.  I just want to f.....ing animate it!

Unfortunately I don't have that choice, so I have to choose how to live with it and make the best of it.  Right now as I sit here feeling like a nuclear waste factory has taken root in my mouth, it's hard to be positive and enjoy things - even Haagen Dazs tastes terrible - but I know things will get better with time.  They will also get a little worse over the next four rounds of chemo.  I may loose my ability to type, my brain will become more fuddled than it is and the heavy doses of steroids that I'll have to start taking soon may make me go postal.  My apologies in advance to those close to me.  Still, there will be an end to the chemo one day and then surgery and radiation will take place and then hopefully I am done!  I'm going to push through the shitty times and try to keep my eye on the prize.  When I am feeling better then I'm going to start enjoying more family time and take some time to do the things I've always wanted to do, even if it means moving and downsizing and cutting back on certain things.  I can't waste this time now, every day counts, even if it's just a day spent sleeping to give me energy for the days that follow, I need to do it.

I want to thank my close friends who have supported me over the last three days, especially to M who rescued me yesterday when I had a meltdown in the London Drugs parking lot.  Thank you for not being afraid to care, for giving me a shoulder to cry on and a great cup of tea.  What I'd like most of all is to go away on a Caribbean cruise with all my friends and family after all this stress and just chill.  Sit on the deck drinking bubbly, watching the sunset and laughing about the Tiger Blood or the day my hair fell out.  I want to wake in the morning to breakfast on my balcony, the smell of sea air, the sounds of my children laughing in the cabin next to me and my wonderful, kind, amazing husband by my side. I'd like my biggest decision of my day to be whether we are going to go on the Catamaran trip with the E family or Scuba diving with the B family.  I'd like to spend time walking down the streets of St. Lucia, tasting the local cuisine and haggling over souvenirs with the vendors.  If I had my druthers I'd become a travel writer and go to the most amazing places, have the most amazing experiences and share them with others via the written word.  Now that would truly be a great life.  Just don't send me to Vegas again any time soon.

Happy Trails,
Michelle
(photographs from our honeymoon in 2008, added to create the "feeling" of being on a cruise ship)

2 comments:

TriEVIElon said...

I have read your blog from beginning to end. Well I started in the middle having seen it on Linda Ann's site. L.A. and I are very good friends. I love reading her blog because her work is just so amazing.

This particular blog really touched me. I do not have cancer. But like you and everyone else, I have an expiry date. At some point, this journey with all the great and wonderful, traumatic and crazy moments will be over. Your strength, fight and will to never give in is beyond inspiring.

More than anything else though, your words are a reminder to us all to be deeply grateful. To really relish every moment that we get to sip bubbly carefree, run around the neighborhood or hold the hand of someone we love. We really need to feel it and appreciate it because eventually, our time is up.

No matter how much time you have left, I know you will make the most of it. That is untrue for so many people. You will savor what so many take for granted. Thank you for sharing your catharsis with all of us. Your pain, I cannot begin to comprehend but it inspires all of us to give our lives everything we have and savor the flavor of it all.

I have a very spiritual friend who is fond of saying "If you lift even one soul up on this planet, then you've done an amazing thing." You've lifted many of us up. I hate that cancer is a part of your journey but so appreciate how you are using it to inspire the rest of us.

Ashleigh said...

My beautiful amazing friend. I wish I could be more there for you & am so glad that you have people around that aren't scared to show their love & support. You stand stronger than anyone I know who's passion for life can move mountains.

You really are making us all think & unveil what our passions really are & what dreams exist out there. Dreams are always what you make & I believe you will meet your dream - this journey is trying on your beliefs but I as do others believe in you & that will Never change!!

Sending love & hugs & anything else I can pass through power of positivity. Xox

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