Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Another Day, Another Scan

My baby sister had a pet scan yesterday.  She will not get her results for 6 days, 14 hours and 3.5 minutes (assuming the doctor is on time...ok so let's make it a clean 6 days and 15 hours).  Even when I am not with her, I can feel her anxiety coursing through her veins, I can feel her taking long slow breaths when her heart begins to speed up in panicked anxiety, or maybe that is me.  

We talk about being cancer free as being a closed book and it is. There is no chemo and there is no radiation, there are no feeding tubes and no daily shots to the stomach, yet you do not simply close the door and walk away. 

I look back at my blog and see big gaps in my story. I have written about many of my sisters milestones and yet when I reached my own, I was unable to find the words. I thought for weeks, about what to say and then, as it began to feel like old news, I simply let it pass.  I tried to wrap my head around what I was feeling.  I tried to capture a pretty feeling of elation but to be honest, it is a slightly hollow elation and it is nearly impossible to fully describe the joy without the shroud of mistrust and fear showing through. 

Still I am forever grateful for my experience, it has made me embrace life more fully. It has made me cherish the mundane moments, (not laundry...I will never look back on time spent doing laundry with a smile). 

Today, I hold tight to the silly conversations with Bean that we have in the car as we run boring errands, I turn my back on cleaning and choose instead to curl up with a book in the summer breeze.

Summer is my Super Bowl and I am soaking it in minute by minute.  Still, as we await the results of my sisters scan with my next scan approaching in the coming weeks, it is hard to remain very zen like. I look at every new bruise as an indicator that the cancer is back, I am suspicious of feeling tired, even when I know I am tired because I stayed up a few extra hours to barrel through a few more episodes of 'Orange is the New Black'. 

My days are both ordinary and so very extraordinary in many  ways and not so very different from anyone else.  I simply have an extra narrator nestled deep within my soul whispering 'what if' as I mix a margarita and pad gently into the sun soaked backyard, armed with water balloons, a giggling little girl and her dog.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

9mo Scan...7 Days Till The Champagne Corks Start Flying

Today is my sisters 9 month pet scan and while I KNOW it will be clear, she does not.  She is scared and her stomach feels likes she drank too much coffee, when in fact she could not have any.

 She is trying to think about where to go for lunch and whether she and I should buy a share of an organic cow (I vote yes) and yet, someone keeps throwing open the door to the land of “what if”.

Last year, we were doing normal sister things.  She was telling me to add more color to my wardrobe (I added a ridiculous amount of navy).  I was telling her to stop dating dum-dums, (she…), well anyway,  we were doing normal things. Then, 7 weeks apart, our normal Wednesdays got a sucker punch to the jaw with our respective cancer diagnosis’s.

We were doing normal things.

Today, we are both on the other side.  We kicked cancer right in its flabby butt cheek! We are doing normal things.  We are slower and more appreciative and we cling to those we love a bit more tightly but we are doing normal sister things.  She is rolling her eyes when I show up to her apartment in my new navy jacket and I am rolling my eyes when she tells me her new crush is (for privacy’s sake,  I am going to keep mum so as not to out the latest dum dum…but let me tell you my eyes are rolling)!

We are back to normal things like deciding who is making what for Thanksgiving, but as we flip through recipes of gratins on the Ipad,  I know that in her mind the words “what if” are racing around like a hamster in a wheel.

As these monumental anniversaries sneak up on us and we trek in for bloodwork and scans, we are ready to scream in celebration but we are paralyzed with silence as we try to break away from the “what ifs” swirling through our minds. 

I don’t know when it will get easier.  I don’t know if we will ever get to a point where we walk into a scan without a fear.  I doubt it but only time will tell.

So today, while I KNOW she is fine, she does not.  So, let us arm our karma guns.  Let us do a good juju booty shake, let us lift her up in prayer.  I know she is fine but a little extra oomph from the universe certainly couldn't hurt.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Remembering Last Year's Guardian Angel

My 9 month Ned-aversary is 1 short week away, there is no pomp and circumstance with this one, no scans, just a bit of  blood work, a little poking and prodding and then I am out the door to finish off the last 3 amazing months of my first year of being cancer free!

woo,  we made cancer look good ;-)
(yup,  both cancer patients here)

I am calm, truth be told, I am actually in a rather zen-like state lately. However, I am in this state because life is settling down, I have left the upheaval behind me, I have simplified my life focusing on being positive and grateful and I have found a calming joy that is both simple and intense.

In a few weeks, my sister and I will be speaking at a Charity walk for Vickie’s Angels and I wanted to take a minute to share my experience with this amazing organization. 

When I went into the hospital for stomach cramps, I had no idea I would emerge 2 weeks later with half a colon, I had no idea I would be diagnosed with Stage IV Colorectal cancer I had no idea what to expect from the next 6 months of chemo.

My first chemo treatment lasted 7 hours, I ordered sushi, a few hours in and at the end after they plugged my chemo pump into my port for another 44 hours of infusion, I went to Costco with my husband to grab a rotisserie chicken for dinner and then we took Bean to our favorite trail for a light hike. The next day I went to work, hooked up to my chemo pump.  I did it again the following day.
About a month and a half in, I started hitting a very sleepy wall and admittedly, while I made it in to the office…I was in a fog.  

I was about half way through my treatments when I started to get sick, it was at this point that my doctor asked me what I was doing and then tried not to slap me for being stupid (It is very frowned upon to hit a cancer patient, even a stupid one).  He told me that my body was working to stay alive,  he told me that 1 year from now,  not using up all of my sick time would mean nothing if I was dead. (Insert light bulb going off here).

 So I stopped pushing.  When I was tired, I slept.  When I was sick, I slept.  When I felt good, I went to the office. My time off ran out very quickly.  

It was at this point that a friend told me about Vickie’s Angels, an organization that provides a financial bridge for those struggle with mounting medical bills and the inability to work.  I called them and within a week, we had spoken on the phone, I had explained my treatment and they offered to pay our mortgage that month so that I did not have to stress even one iota about not bringing home a full paycheck. 

They were a godsend not just because they helped with bills but because they let me breathe.  I did not have to spend a second of my recovery, re-budgeting our household.  I could focus on napping and not feel even a twinge of guilt.

Vickie’s Angels stepped in just when we needed them and they continue to do so for so many families in our area. So on October 10th, if you would like to join my sister and I, we will be walking with my sister for Vickie’s Angels in New Cumberland.

We have come a long way from nose drains and stomach injections!

 If you would like to donate to our team, that would be amazing (even if it $1).  If you would like to think of a super snazzy team name for 2 apparently brain dead sisters that fought and beat cancer but cannot think of a decent name, THAT would be STUPENDOUS!