This post will be part one of four, where I discuss a few not fun facts, about a not fun thing I am dealing with, going through and otherwise choosing to learn, by necessity, in order to survive.
Time for a History lesson of me. In June 2016, it was determined, much as I had suspected for the few years prior, that the lump in my left breast was in fact cancer. I was initially diagnosed as Stage IV, as the cancer had metastasized to my lymph nodes already and was presumed to be elsewhere within my body yet undiagnosed.
Stage IV is the scariest stage to be diagnosed, because it effectively means that western medicine doesn’t have a “cure” they can sell you, and they are more concerned with keeping you alive as long as possible than anything else. This may sound a little bitter, but its more a realistic emotional reaction based upon my personal experiences.
Within a few more weeks of testing, a surgery to install a port, and my first “chemo” treatment. It was later Re-diagnosed as Stage 2. This means in humble people jaron free speak, western medicine has classed you as: “Good news, we think we can reasonable “cure” you, if you follow these toxic protocols we give you.”
Up until this point in June of 2016, I had never had surgery. I should not gloss over the fact that from the time of diagnosis, till the time of re-diagnosis, and beginning of my “stage 2 journey to healing”, I had undergone some of the most frightening experiences known to humanity. A mammogram, a biopsy, a surgery, a chemo treatment, a CT Scan, a Brain MRI, and so many doctors appointments, and planning and educations for all of the above, it hardly bares mentioning that my head, heart and soul, and that of my loved ones was still spinning.
My “protocol” was going to be 6 grueling treatments of chemotherapy, that were guaranteed to make my hair fall out, make my nails and skin brittle, risk possible permanent damage to all of my internal organs, as well as my skin. I was advised that once the treatments were finished, I would be referred to a surgeon for removal of my breast, reconstruction options, and then referred to a radiologist for irradiation of the reconstructed skin. I was not given options, no other details were discussed or reviewed, this was “the way it was to be”
I was educated on the fact that I was triple positive, a fact that was relayed as being a “super good thing” as it meant that there were hormonal suppression chemo drugs, I’d be taking for 18 months, that would prevent further outbreaks of the cancer in other areas of my body.
I was immediately put into flight or fight mode emotionally, spiritually, and psychologically. Having no time to breath and consider my options, having no recourse other than to follow the “experts” advise.
At no time was the “cause” or “root” of this problem identified. At no time was diet or best course discussed. When I asked the best diet for chemo, I was generally told “whatever I felt like eating”. This honestly somewhat made sense, since in addition to the mainline chemo drugs they were pumping through my port, they also subscribed steroids and 3 types of anti nausea meds, so it really didn’t matter much what I ate, since my body was so heavily medicated that my immune system had no hope of helping me out.
In addition to the medical rollercoaster ride I was now experiencing, there were three other “necessary” amusement “rides” for me to embrace during this time.
The first was my work. I had been working, for a company for many years, 12 plus years, and I was suddenly, incapable of returning to work. This caused a void in a routine in my life. I suddenly had more time to focus on how truly miserable I was feeling, with no daily satisfaction from the small things, at my job that had been satisfying for me. At this point, back in 2016 when all of this was occuring, there was no thought in my mind of “not” returning to work, it was not knowing when I would be able to return to work. This created a state of frustration both in myself, and I’m certain for my colleagues. The environments at businesses in our country, The United States, are such that perpetually we are overworking our staff. This greats better profit margins, but creates a tremendous amount of stress surrounding incidents where an employee is forced to go on a long term medical leave. I was a basket case. I felt horrible leaving my teams, my employees, my colleagues, in the lurch, to tend to this most vital thing, my health. As if this feeling of guilt, and responsibility weren’t enough, in order to financially provide some stability to my family, I needed to jump thru the hopes to get short term, long term, and extended disability – All of which, are by design intended to be excessively convoluted. These required a jobs worth of follow up to ensure that I was qualified, that the paperwork for my qualification had been filed by me, by my employer, by my doctor, and had been approved by multiple sources at the insurance company. This process has been ongoing, and judging by the number of hours I have spent thru this process, its not unlike having a job. I am truly grateful to have been “prepared” in such a way so as to have paid for disability “just in case” for years, for this incident. I am also grateful for the time of the nurses, and doctors (multiple) who had to spend some of their time, away from patients to file my claim information multiple times. This process was a nightmare, continues to be a nightmare, and is one that I dread over and over again.
The next of the amusement park of cancer that I had to experience, was sudden brutal realization that i was no longer on the elite outside of “I don’t have cancer” Now forever, I would be a “cancer survivor” which is basically what they call you once you are diagnosed until you are dead. You are a cancer survivor until you are dead. I was now a label. I have always been a label in my life. A white woman. An obese white woman. An over 30 non-college graduate woman. But now suddenly, I had this other label that would forever define me. A Cancer Survivor. This just didn’t seem acceptable. I fought against this. As anyone who knows me will tell you, when I feel something is unfair, I will be the first to stand up and ring the bells and cry foul. Well, I looked at this label and I said “Nah this ain’t me” and I did everything humanly possible to avoid having this label, for no real other reason than I didn’t want to have it.
But wait, there is more, there was another rollercoaster of emotion waiting for me to struggle to come to terms with during this personal war against cancer going on. This one was a little bit more insipid and mild all at the same time, wrapped up in a pretty bow, and was the most toxic fruit cake of all time. That of my family and friends. All well meaning, all well intentioned, all filled with their own worry, regret, concern, hopes, inspirations, well wishes, needs, and generally aspects of being human. Suddenly I went from being a rock for everyone else, to being expected to be a mountain for everyone else. It isn’t that they intended this to be the case, but its more that they had these expectations that I just couldn’t fill or fit. They wanted to be there fore me, to provide assistance to me, all in ways that I couldn’t figure out how or what to do with. How did this happen? What did I do to create this mess?
Stay tuned for Part 2 of my journey.