Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Dishes are done, man!

It's now 4 days after my last chemo and I'm starting to crawl out of the chemo hole. (Kind of like a K-hole but without the high and with stomach cramps.)

Today is the fist day I'm actually starting to feel done with all this mess. So, I have one thing to say:


Good, I got that off my chest. Now I can move on.

If only it were that easy....

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Hooked up for the last time

Today I got hooked up to my last round of chemo. I'm kind of incredulous that I've made it this far. I'm still not completely done - I have a pump on me 'till Friday - but the end is in sight. I've really been trying to take this day by day. It's way too much to handle if you try to look further ahead. But today, I'm looking 2 days ahead, to the end of chemo, end of hair loss, nausea, achy muscles, steroid puffiness and all that crap.

It feels really good. That's the first time I've been able to say that in a long time.

My oncologist says there's little chance of cancer returning. CT scans every six months and colonoscopies every year, but other than that I can get back to normal life. Well, normal life with the new found knowledge that, as Hedwig and the Angry Inch aptly put it, "Enemies and adversaries, they try and tear me down. You want me baby, I dare you. Try and tear me down."

Saturday, May 19, 2007

And the roller coaster goes down and then up....

Feeling better today. Less scared and more kick ass. I think It's 'cause I sent out an email asking peeps if they wanted to come to my last chemo and cheer me on and I got such great responses from my friends. It's made things less lonely, less bleak.

When I'm just alone in the space of my mind the cancer fear can grow unmitigated. But with friends there it helps stamp it out.

Friends are good. I'm so glad I have my share of them.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Chemo Stockholm Syndrome

I'm feeling scared. Chemo is ending next week and all I can think about is that there will be nothing fighting the cancer except my immune system. There's no way I want to continue chemo, but at the same time I'm now feeling dependant on it to keep the cancer at bay.

Me and Patty Hearst. Now I know how she felt.

All the CT scans look good, everything has gone as well as can be expected, but I still feel like somehow once chemo is done, all hell will break loose. Partly it's because you can't see cancer. It's not going to give me a rash or a stuffy nose if it comes back. It will just lurk. I hate lurkers.

I had a nightmare last night that was long and involved, but ended with me finding people that had been chemically treated and put into mason jars. I opened a door and all of the deformed looking bodies in jars looked at me with so much fear in their eyes. My cousin pointed out that this dream was about rescue. I wanted to rescue these people, but they had been damaged beyond rescue. Maybe that's how I'm feeling about myself right now. What if I'm damaged beyond rescue?

I'm going to have to learn to live with this fear, I know that. Now that all my medical treatment is coming to an end, I'm starting to feel more deeply all the emotions that have been in denial. I've just been pushing through, trying to make it through surgery, through chemo. Now that it's ending I have to face the stuff I've been aware of but not really feeling. Haven't had the space to deal physically and mentally all at once. I guess it's time to face these demons.

Well, I've made it this far, so bring it on. I'll make it, I know I will.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

If...I ...can...just make it....Argh!

Finally feeling well enough to post after my chemo on Friday. I still can't believe I only have one more.

I'm starting to have mixed feelings about it. I've been warned by other cancer peeps that this happens - I won't have anything actively fighting the cancer anymore. No chemo, no surgery. It will just be in there, doing its thing. And I don't know if "its thing" is dying a horrible death due to my immune system or multiplying like crazy and having a party in my pancreas.

I think the unknown may be the scariest part of all this. The loss of control from not knowing seems like it will be all consuming. But, I will have to learn to come to terms with it. Just like I've come to terms with a million other things in the last year that seemed insurmountable. With time, this too shall pass.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Lymphatic Drainage

This post will be short and sweet 'cause I had oxylaplaitin yesterday which makes your fingers all numb. Anyway, I just wanted to report that the lymphatic drainage really seemed to help me feel better. I felt more energetic and stronger that I had in months. I recommended it to any non-metastatic cancer fighters. I'd ask you oncologist if it's metastatic - It may not be best to be spreading body fluids around at that point. I dunno....

Soo good.

Of course, that was Tuesday and yesterday they put me back on chemo, so I'm feeling crappy once again.

But, this is my second to last cycle. Woo Hoo.

Kinda feel like that last few weeks of school where you know if you can make it through finals you'll have the WHOLE summer school-free. Liberation!

Monday, May 7, 2007

I can't serve in the foreign service

One of the cliched things that has happened to me since the cancer diagnosis is an evaluation of my career/lifepath. I currently work as a tutor for high school and college students and, while I really like it, it doesn't make me nearly enough money to have things like a house or a retirement plan.

I've considered lots of options, but recently I thought to myself "what do I *really* want to do with my life?" I realized that I want to feed starving people. Everytime I don't finish a meal or clean out my fridge I always think that there are people who are one meal away from starving to death and with what I've just thrown I could have saved a life. And I get frustrated that I live in a land of plenty where collective leftovers could feed an entire nation.

So, I looked into the World Food Program today (part of the UN). In order to work at the WFP you have to become a foreign service officer. Well, no problem, I've always been good at tests and I'm sure I could pass any background check. However, there is a medical background check as well. You have to be free of any chronic conditions that may not be treatable in the foreign lands in which you may be working. I'm sure cancer is on their list of chronic conditions.

So now I'm angry. I feel a bit like some sort of leper. (not that I have anything against lepers, I'm sure they're lovely people.)I'm frustrated that this random DNA mutation keeps me from getting a certain job. That seems unfair to me. What if I sign a waiver? I'm sure that I could come back to the US once a year and get my colonoscopy.

Grrr. Argh.

Oh well, another of life's dreams smashed. I guess I'll save the world some other way. Sigh.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Everybody gets a hug

I went back to work today and stopped at the coffee house across the street beforehand. I used to go everyday before the "Big C" but haven't been around in a while.

Immediately, the woman who works there started peppering me with questions, "Where have you been?" I told her I'd been on medical leave and she asked what was wrong, so I told her the v. short version of the whole story.

She then told me that her nephew in El Salvador has bone cancer, has had one leg amputated and has had the cancer spread to his hip, where they can't operate. He has a few years to live. She said "Hold on! I'll show you a picture!" She brought back a photo of a handsome, smiling young boy with only one leg sitting next to his grandma.

"He's smiling!' "Yes, he's very happy." I asked how he kept up his good attitude. I mean, if I were 17, had one leg and terminal cancer I don't know if I could muster a smile, let alone look so happy and proud in a picture. She said that he always tried to remember when he could run and play and that made him happy. Also, he was on the list from the American Cancer Society to get a prosthetic leg and that made him happy.

All I want to do now is get on a plane, fly to El Salvador and give that 17 year old the biggest hug ever. How amazing.

I find this boy so brave. And yet, when people call me brave I just shrug it off. I tell them I'm just doing what the doctors tell me will save my life and dealing with how crappy it makes me feel. It's not bravery, I tell them, you just do it.

But that's exactly what this boy is doing. Just getting through it. And I find him remarkably brave. So why is it, yet again, that I can't be as kind to myself as I am to others? I meet another cancer patient and we hug. It's an unspoken bond. But am I giving myself enough credit? I am one of those people that treat others with much more kindness than I treat myself. I never see my accomplishments as anything special. Just something I did.

I want to be my own best cheerleader. I will always continue to be so proud of the people in my life, but I think I need to turn some of that inward. Most of it inward.

So I will start here: I am fighting fucking cancer. That is something to be proud of. I may still not think of myself as brave, but I have been through such an ordeal in the last eight months that I have a right to be proud of surviving it with at least my sense of humor and about 100 hairs intact.

Everybody gets a hug today. Including me.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Head Cold

Haven't posted in a few days. I got a nasty head cold that has prevented me from wanting to do anything but watch the National Geographic Channel. I love that channel! That and Discovery Health Channel, which Scout refers to as "Megan's Surgery Channel". How do they separate Siamese twins? I wanna know!

I have 2 (Two!) more chemo treatments left. That finally seems like a do-able number. I am excited to be done and finally let my body rid itself of all the toxic chemicals and steroids that they have been pumping into me. I know that it is killing the cancer, but it's also bad for my system. Bad for me and good for me? Kinda like chocolate! Mmmmm....chocolate chemo.

My friend who is a holistic practitioner, Sid (www.synergywellness.org), recommended I try some Lymphatic Drainage to help my body get rid of toxins. I'm going in next week to a local practitioner and I am excited to see if it works. Anything to get out of the chemo hole. I want to come out of this whole cancer experience healthier than when I went in.

Okay, back to the surgery channel.