Friday, 30 November 2012

MRI Results and Pondering the Future.

Here I am sitting at Lions Gate Hospital waiting for my chemo to start.  Strangely enough, out of all the months that I have been going through chemo and writing my blog, I have never written the blog from the chemo ward.  It feels quite liberating and of course very apt to be doing so. 

Today is my first Herceptin only treatment and I'm looking forward to experiencing a chemo treatment without the debilitating side effects that Adriamycin, Cyclophosphamide and Taxol brought on.  Weird isn't it, to be looking forward to side effects.  I guess that's how dramatically having cancer changes your life.  You celebrate the little victories, like a day without pain, or look forward to such things as lesser side effects and the day you can feel the ends of your fingers properly again. 


I am so happy to have the yucky chemo behind me.  Although, believe it or not, my chemo session last week was great fun.  Well, the session itself was fun because I had lots of visitors and we shared champagne and celebrated the end of the "bad" chemo.  The week after the chemo was not fun as the side effects were really bad (after 12 weeks of build up), and I'm still actually feeling them today.  I think the Neupogen shots are responsible for most of the pain and swelling, so I'm relieved I won't have to do those again either.  

I got some fantastic news last week.  The results of my MRI done on November 13th were revealed to me.  They are amazing.  Dr. S was extremely pleased with my response to chemo, as am I.  Could you imagine how devastating it would be to hear the chemo had not worked?  Unfortunately, in my new circle of cancer buddies I have heard of more than one incidence where the chemo has not worked.  The disappointment one must feel having dragged yourself through hell for months to find out that it hasn't been effective would be devastating. 

Here is a photo of the MRI results.  So, as things improve with me, my mind is starting to turn towards the prospect of returning to work. 

The idea of returning to work seems so alien to me.  Actually it scares me a little.  You see, I'm not the person I once was.  I don't feel as confident as I used to, I feel almost less of a person than I was, so I'm concerned about my ability to do my job effectively.  Until yesterday I was worried that I wouldn't be able to put my heart into it anymore.  Then by pure fluke when I was on the coast yesterday dealing with things related to my mothers estate, I ran into a client of mine.  I couldn't believe it, he was happy to see me, said things arent' the same without me and asked when I'd be coming back.  He also said that he had been following my blog and so knew my story.  It was a great boost to my ego, albeit embarrassing to hear his opinion of me and how I had chosen my path and way of dealing with my cancer.  I felt empowered.  I realized everything will be okay.  Actually it will probably be better because I have actually lived and breathed all the reasons why I do what I do.  Being diagnosed with cancer has brought the value of having Critical Illness Insurance right in front of me, has helped me see firsthand why disability insurance is so necessary, and now that I am uninsurable I understand the value of purchasing life insurance when you can because you never know when it will be too late.  

So, here I sit a day after chemo now, to finish my blog from yesterday.  I had two visitors to my chemo session yesterday, which is a rare occurrence.  The first was from my "big boss" as I call her.  It was great to see Joanne and to hear how everything was going at work, as well as to know that I was missed.  She also gave me some great advice, you see I'd been told to take mini-break/holiday before my radiation started in January, but I was uncertain about doing so, especially if something were to happen to me while away.  Joanne reminded me that I was covered and should take the time to take care for myself and get strong for the onslaught of radiation coming I think I'll follow her wise words and take off to sunny climes for a little while.  I know my body could use the warmth and certainly my psyche could use a little cheering up.

The other visitor I had was my friend K from the Callanish Retreat.  She is a wonderfully sweet girl with such a positive outlook.  I really enjoyed getting to know her at the retreat and was thrilled to get a visit yesterday.  It made me realize that as human beings, we tend to gravitate to and enjoy the company of people who "get" us.  People who have been diagnosed with a serious cancer have been changed in a way that only another cancer patient can understand.  It's sort of an unspoken agreement, or a connection beyond words where you just know how that person is feeling.  It's a shared bond that neither of you signed up for, but now that you're here, being with others of the same ilk brings comfort and a sense of belonging.  

When I first got sick, I didn't feel any different than anyone else, but after six months of intense treatment, I do feel different, I feel like a lesser person.  I used to be supremely confident and although I was never beautiful, I always felt attractive and intelligent and worthwhile.  Now, I feel extremely unattractive (especially with my hair growing back in like a 90 year old man), I feel mentally diminished and not as "quick" as I used to be, and I also feel like I'm boring to normal people.  I don't have normal days anymore, so when going for a glass of wine with a friend it's hard for me to "chat" about the day.  What day?  My days are empty.  I'm not contributing or doing anything except writing and watching Netflix and cuddling with my dog.  Ho hum, that's not interesting to anyone, so what is there to talk about, except perhaps the latest episode of "Lie to Me" or "Dexter".

So the question is, "What can I do to integrate back into society"?  Which makes me think of prisoners being released after a long time behind bars.  Imagine how difficult it must be for them to integrate back. The world must seem alien and scary to them, as it does a bit for me.  That being said, there has to be a way to do it, to slowly come out of my shell and be "normal" again.  Aaah I see a project for me...... find ways to make a come back, like an old rocker!  I've got to polish myself back up and figure out a way to get back out to the living.  Hmmmm perhaps a pedicure would be a start?

Time for me to get off my butt and away from the computer for a while.....

So long folks.



ashley said...

Michelle, I am so happy for your MRI results. This is the best news I have heard this week! :)

I love what you said about the connection between us cancer peeps... " It's sort of an unspoken agreement, or a connection beyond words where you just know how that person is feeling." Exactly my feeling on this. So special to be able to have connections with people who 'get it'.

I also really can understand those feelings of not being enough... feeling slower, not as sharp, scared about whether I will be smart enough when I get back to work and boring. I just wrote about something similar in my last post too. Guilt is a new feeling I have been having... not sure if you have had that yet. Anyways, we do what we have to do... however we can best manage. If all we can manage is to write a blog post and watch some Netflix then so be it!

If you are ever back on the Coast again please let me know, it would be great to visit again. Hugs xo

Michelle Pammenter Young said...

Hey Ashley, thank you for your comments. I know you totally 'get it' about what we are going through. I have to read your post about Guilt. I have had some of late, so interested to get your take on it....going to go there now LOL..... Sorry we didn't connect last week. I plan on going back to visit my Mum's grave before Christmas, if you are going to be around, please let me know and I will connect.
With the greatest caring intentions as always,

Leigh said...

Michelle, I'm so happy to see your MRI results! This is fantastic news. Of course, your fighting spirit has also helped in this improvement! Keep up the good work! We're all so proud of you!

Love from Alberta!

ashley said...

Definitely text or email me when you are heading back up here. I will be around. We are in the Creek... could meet at the Gumboot or even just have tea at our place.

Much love xo


Michelle Pammenter Young said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michelle Pammenter Young said...

Thanks Leigh, how are things in the land of cold? I follow a lot of your posts, so know you are still having fun and travelling a lot. I hope life is good to you.

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