Friday, May 29, 2015

A Reprieve

It has been two years this February that I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I can still remember the numb feeling, the brain going into neutral and the rest of the conversation with the doctor something I do not remember. Many tests followed and another cancer was found. Colon.
Because of having two unrelated cancers, my chemo was administered for a whole year. Hair was lost, many days were spent resting as the effects of the chemo caused exhaustion.

Immediately after the breast cancer diagnosis a colonoscopy was ordered and the colon cancer was found. Surgery was scheduled immediately to remove the tumor in the colon. The breast surgery came a year later after the chemo was completed. As soon as the chest wall was healed, 30 rounds of radiation followed.
It was a very long exhaustive year. One year from the the diagnosis date, a PET scan was done to look for "hot spots" indicating tumor cells forming elsewhere in my body. Clear! and a sigh of relief escapes as the doctor gives me this news.

Because of so much lymph node involvement I was told I would be kept on a "short leash" for a long time.

This past Tuesday, three tests were scheduled. My fatalistic attitude on my health issue causes me to prepare for the worst. An ultrasound of the right chest wall, a CT scan of the abdominal and pelvic area and a bone scan from head to toe kept me at the hospital all morning. Now the wait to hear the results.

Yesterday (Thursday) my oncologist called. I missed her call and had to call back and wait to have my message relaid to her and wait again for her phone call.
"All clear" she sang out. Have a good weekend. I didn't want you to worry about the results all weekend."

All clear! Again my fatalistic brain elves nudge me. Though I was prepared for bad news, this good news only buys me a little more time. I'm not naïve enough to believe that this is all it does. It will be back. "When" is the big question but for now I have a little more time to stash my diagnosis to the far corners of my brain and continue on with my life.

As a fellow cancer patient told me "I don't want to know too much. I don't want to "own" this cancer. I just want to live with it."

I understand her statement clearly.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

To The End

Cinco De Mayo is on May 5th. It's also the day that my brother  in law passed from this earthly existence. The year of 2015, 05/05.

It was just last Easter that I collected my daughter and two of her children for the long trip to North Carolina to see Ray. Three years ago he was diagnosed with lung cancer. Surgeries and procedures followed and I didn't want to wait much longer before I visited. It was Easter, 2014.

I just made another trip to North Carolina to see him again. I knew his time was drawing near. I didn't make it for Easter but two weeks later then last year.

I was able to help my sister care for him. Some days he was awake and alert; some days he slept the day away in comfort. I questioned him often about pain which he denied. I would hear him sing out "Oh Me" and my sister would respond with "Oh My". He would know by this that she was close by and that's what made him comfortable. Once, while standing by his bed, he opened his eyes and very clearly said "You have pretty teeth!" I laughed and told him "It has cost me a lot of money to keep these teeth." He smiled and stayed awake to chat with us for a while.

My sister was happy caring for him. She wanted to spend as much time as possible with him knowing that as the time got closer he would be moved to a Hospice center. I had to make this trip for a number of reasons, the first two being to make sure my sister was not feeling trapped by caring for him 24hrs a day/seven days a week. I also wanted to satisfy myself that he wasn't in pain; that he was comfortable.

Two weeks after my  leaving North Carolina, Ray passed on quietly surrounded by his family and friends and his wife. I won't be going back for the services. I felt it was more important to spend some time with him while he was alive.  As I sit here thinking of him, knowing my sister is preparing his services, I know I made the right decision.

Rest in peace brother in law. You were loved by many.