Special Note to all the airlines and companies who took advantage of people struggling through Irma and who tried to follow evacuation orders: Shame on you for gauging residents of the Carribean islands and Southeast US. You must be penalized the same way you tried to penalize them! The government must step in and do something about this. Give them special fees the way they gave the people fees… forcing some people to stay in the danger because they were charging thousands of dollars to leave as requested. Shame on you for putting people’s lives in danger unnecessarily. Charging exorbitant amounts for drinking water. Incredible how the bottom line becomes your priority even when that could have been your family stuck in the disaster. This must stop, and it’s the government’s role to pass laws to remove this price gauging during natural disasters. Who’s going to do something about it right now?!
When I sat with my chemo-oncologist following my operation, I thought about freezing my eggs, in case I wanted a second child – which I did. He admitted in that mechanical voice, “That will take too long and will delay your treatment.” And that was the end of that.
Missing my daughter’s growth during what was probably one of the most important periods for her, and not being able to hold her in my arms during that year are what I miss. I can’t ever get that back, and it saddens me still.
So many patients I’ve mentored asked me where I found my strength to get through cancer and the horrid treatments. My immediate reply is “my daughter.” I’m convinced that God brought Isabella into my life, at the time He did, for this purpose. Without her, how hard would I have fought? Not that I didn’t love my family, but the power I felt not to abandon my young daughter was stronger.
Let’s face it… how hard you fight cancer does not determine the outcome. Nor will carrying a smile on your face every day kill the cancer cells. You can choose to seek conventional or alternative methods of treatment, but as the surgeon put it, the result is reliant on your physiology.
Being positive can help you get through some days, but other times, you’re too sick to even care about how you interact with those in your presence. You struggle enough to get through vomiting, pain, and exhaustion. How could any one expect us to “be positive.”
I hate that phrase. All it does is make life easier for those around us. Is it really about the others? Or is it about us getting out of our death bed?
Wishing peace to all those who have perished during the Mexican earthquake last week and Hurricane Irma that affected much of the Carribean countries and South East of the United States. And to those who are struggling to bring life back to normal, may you find strength and kindness nearby.
“How many of your patients make it to ten years?”
He didn’t even have to speak. The manner in which his eyes glared at me, with a little shake of the head, and his lips tightly together, confirmed few or none survived this long. I wouldn’t dare ask for percentages. As I write this chapter, it’s been almost eleven years since my operation.
As he depicted this discouraging message, I realized that my fear had somewhat diminished until that point, because it had been so long. I thought I had beaten cancer. His undeniable communication raised new questions and the insecurity I had learned to live with.
Did that mean I didn’t have much time left? There was no point in asking a question I knew he or any other doctor could not answer. In fact, it’s a wonder I’ve lasted this long.
Thankfully, the surgeon would be scheduling annual CT-scans and, every two years or so, or when I’d express a particular complication, a lovely gastroscopy.
After five years in remission, I thought it would be the end of my follow-ups with the remaining doctors. My radio-oncologist scheduled my last scan. I told her that since it was the last one, I wanted a PET scan. That hospital didn’t give those out freely, but she obliged. I knew that the PET was more precise and saw cancer cells as small as one centimeter.
“You’ll still have a partial CT-scan, since it renders better results for the abdomen.”
I don’t remember whether she said the abdomen or the torso, but she scheduled me for both the PET and the CT.
After I received the clean results from those tests, the follow-up with my surgeon was the only one remaining. At that point, I was not looking forward to hearing him drop me too. Then who’ll look after me?
But when the day came to meet with my surgeon, he said, “No, I will continue to follow you as long…”
He stopped speaking, but I knew he meant, “as long as you are alive.”
Maybe he didn’t think I would be around so many years after the advanced cancer – but I showed him. I feel like a walking miracle. I get the impression that he is surprised I’ve surpassed even his expectations. “It’s ten years!”
Don’t ask me what I did to get here because I haven’t the slightest idea. Besides, I’m not sure any thing I could do would change the outcome of my survival from such a grave diagnosis.
There is no excerpt this week, but I’d like to leave you with a little sunshine to brighten your day, strength to conquer your pain, and love to fulfill every thing else.
As summer comes to a close, and our children return to the education we so desperately want for them, I wish each of you exercise caution, patience, and kindness in every aspect of your life. May you always be rewarded with serenity and grace. Peace to all, and see you next week!