Thursday, July 9, 2015

Aren't you glad you had cancer?

This will be my week in a few days. Excepting for the first and last day, there will be some serious hills particularly around Boyne City, East Jordan, Alden and Traverse City

Last night, we had a new woman at the class who had relatively early stage breast cancer meaning surgery was enough; no chemo or radiation. She was very tearful as she told her story, how distressful  and scary it was especially as she was young. She apologized to the rest of the class because she knew some of us had gone through so much worse and have even worse to come. Towards the end, she said the whole experience was life changing and she is glad she had it.
No one addressed that because I assumed they were polite but I can't imagine anyone else was glad for their cancers as the effects keep on going. Yep this woman got off easy with just fake replacement breasts for the physical side effects. A stage 4 BC person said she never needs to apologize for having just a little cancer; all cancers are big. This person was currently tolerating her chemo and doing well but sooner or later, the chemo stops working. Maybe they will find another that will work another few months but she will be on chemo for the rest of her life which may not be long. This woman did talk about the joy of finally being able to eat a fresh strawberry. She previously was too immune-compromised to risk the E coli that may be on them. The snow bunting man (and hibiscus donor to me) had a very rare germ cell cancer left over from when he was an embryo of cells that failed to migrate to their proper place. The rarest part was that it usually pops up when the patient is a toddler, not a man in his 40s. He was treated with such heavy doses of chemo that make the ones I had be a walk in the park. Usually this chemo (as opposed to occasionally) leads to secondary leukemia. He is waiting for that shoe to drop though maybe his age (versus his toddler cohorts) might save him from that.
And then there is my friend who does have the secondary leukemia from the same chemo I had who needs a bone marrow transplant. I looked up her statistics on a government website..very scary. I am hoping that newer numbers will be better as new drugs address the rejection issues better than the recent past.
If you think cancer is a gift, you can't come to my party. (this is a title of a book I read during my stay in cancerland)
What about me? I am not glad about my cancer. Worse than the fatigue, the bone pain, the baldness, the nausea and residual nerve damage and Picasso chest (one up and one down) was the black cloud that consumed my thoughts for most of a year and then some. The unfairness of an early death (yep I am much older than grateful-for-cancer-girl) even though I knew the odds were much in my favor of surviving. Why couldn't I just concentrate on them? And I would feel guilty about my personal short coming of seeing the glass as 30% empty. Aside from whining on the blog occasionally, I kept this to myself. Bad attitude police are everywhere. And I can present my smiling face to the world and people would tell me that with my good attitude, I will certainly survive. And I have survived by luck, the same luck that caused my stay,, so yay for that and I don't think about the bad stuff much anymore. I have another 2 months before deciding on my fix up surgery. The chest pains are becoming much less frequent. I have gotten off easy.
The woman who literally wrote the book on Triple Negative Cancer (which I helped edit) recently announced she had a new triple negative tumor (too long of time had passed for it to be considered a recurrence). Fortunately this one is very small so no chemo but she needs a mastectomy. She wrote the book to counteract the popular literature and the medical literature that stresses the dismal and bleak odds of surviving TNBC when the truth is, most people do survive it. She had a blog Positives about Negative where I found her.
Usually by this time of day, I am out running, biking or both but it is raining heavily. Hopefully it will dry up by the end of the day to do work on the old house (boy I wish that house was sold).
And for a maybe reader, you are a great aunt as of July 3rd through your oldest niece to Baby Olivia.. You have cut off all ties to your family, who asked as a last ditch effort for me to write this even though I have stressed we no longer have any ties either.


Lisa said...

Am I glad that I had cancer? No, I can't say that I am. Did cancer change me? Yes, it most definitely did, but I would rather something kinder and gentler had caused those changes. I have held the hand of my friend undergoing MOHS surgery for a small basal cell cancer and understood her anxiety of having the word malignant associated with her name. But if she had said that she was glad for the experience I might have slapped her.

Elephant's Child said...

It is like the people who say that their serious illness made them a better person. I do not understand, accept or agree. At all.
Good luck over the next few weeks. Have fun and ride well.


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