Overwhelm

I recently realized that I am just now coming out of the overwhelming shock of my diagnosis. I talked in my last post about ‘dreamwalking’ and think that has been my state since October. I somehow managed to keep it together enough to work for a while, to submit the application for disability, to make and show up on time for tests and doctor appointments. I have blindly accepted whatever treatment was offered, not knowing there could be more. We did have a discussion with my oncologist early on; and he did outline what was available and what he thought I should do. I agreed because I wanted to get started and beat this thing.

This week was when things changed. I have tied in with some online lung cancer supports and have found out there are so many different treatment options out there. So today, I had a frank discussion with my team member and am satisfied I am getting the best treatment for me at this point in time. I am also encouraged that my oncologist is a leader in the field, and is proactive in changing protocols for his patients, including getting them in for treatment trials anywhere in the country. So now I feel I can breathe again. And I’m more optimistic. And I’m starting to get back to a more normal life. I know that at best I can expect to just manage this – I don’t expect a cure. But there can be remission when the tumors stay the size they are, and that’s what I’m aiming for at this point. If the tumors get small enough, there is a chance that radiation can finish the job. But for right now, I’ll take the chemo, bear the side effects (but there’s usually a drug for that!!), and continue the fight.

I still have to be careful of infection, so it’s important to keep an eye on my white count. I did once have to have a shot to stimulate production of white cells – and it worked. But I still can’t be around crowds, which makes shopping a bit of a problem! But with the antiseptic wipes I have I’m comfortable at least going grocery and pet food shopping. And if my white count gets too low, I’ll just have to wear a mask. I refuse to be sick any more. I’m not going to be an ‘invalid’ and I will beat this thing.

Onward and upward!!

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And so it begins…

First let me say I’m not writing this for sympathy or for attention; I’m writing this blog so that perhaps I can help someone else on the same journey, and so I can process my own emotions. And Second, this was not easy for me to write. I have been going back and forth about whether I should even publish this; there is no waffling about writing it, just about publishing it.

A few days ago, actually on Thursday, October 17th, at 4:10pm, I learned that I have lung cancer with metastasis to the liver.The following day, we had our first meeting with the oncologist. I learned that because the cancer has metastasized, it’s probably Stage 4, and there is no cure, but with chemo, we can hopefully shrink the tumors and extend my quality of life. I had blood work done and will still need to have a biopsy, a full body PET scan, and an MRI of the brain. Only then can we start chemo.

Looking back, I can see all the little signs I either missed or ignored. And I should never have started smoking and I should have quit sooner. But I can’t waste my energy on woulda-coulda-shoulda.

My doctor was wonderful – holding my hand as she gave me the news. The first thing into my head was how am I going to tell Steve? I knew on a gut level that I had cancer. What I didn’t expect was the metastasis. I made it home in one piece and then fell apart. It seems so unfair that I was looking forward to retirement and now the future is so uncertain.

Friday was a blur. I went to work like always and had to leave for a few hours for our meeting with the oncologist. He is a leading researcher in lung cancer and spent almost an hour with us after being an hour late because he spends as much time with each patient as that patient needs, and I like that. I went back to work but I’m not sure how much I got done because I felt so removed from everything.

There are so many questions, but they can’t be answered until all the tests are complete, and I’m impatient to start the fight. I think I’m still in a state of shock on one level while on another level I’m ready to fight. I know the odds aren’t in my favor – the survival rate for lung cancer is very low – but that is no reason to give in.

I have periods during the day when I’m fine but then the reality will hit again and I just want to scream and cry and hit something. I’m angry that my body has betrayed me; I’m angry at myself for not taking better care of myself; I’m angry that I may not have a chance to enjoy the retirement I dreamed of; I’m angry that my partner may have to go on without me. But I’m also trying to view this as a new learning experience.

I spent Saturday feeling sorry for myself, crying, or napping. I allowed myself one day for self-pity.

So I will continue blogging as long as I’m able, and I will continue my Gratitude Journal daily. That will force me to keep a positive attitude. 🙂

So peace, joy, and love to all. Hug those you love today.