Katie & Briscoe

Katie & Briscoe

Monday, October 17, 2011

My, How Time Flies...

It's almost over. There is one treatment left to go. There will still be a few more months of cancer related tests and appointments, of course. And the port will have to be flushed every six weeks until they decide to remove it. But after the first week in November, my cancer treatment will officially be over.

Looking back, it hardly seems possible that it has been more than a year since that moment when my doctor got that worried look on her face while doing my breast exam. It also seems hard to believe that that moment was truly the worst one of the whole journey. That instant when the whole world seemed to stop and my stomach dipped uneasily as I realized she'd found something she didn't like. That single split second when my mind leapt forward to the idea of cancer.

I know we're all different. From our individual personalities to our faith - or lack thereof - to our specific cancers and the treatments they require. Compared to so many others, I think I got off easy. I did not need a mastectomy. The cancer, while aggressive, was confined to that single tumor, making a lumpectomy the best option. My chemo was potent, but relatively short in duration. (Only 4 treatments of the worst stuff compared to others who've needed far more.) Eight total chemo treatments and six or so weeks of radiation just seemed to fly by.

When I look back, it's actually kind of hard to remember just how difficult it was. The pain could be intense at times. And the radiation left me feeling like a severely overcooked slab of meat, complete with blisters and peeling skin. There is still soreness. My breast varies from being mildly sore like an overworked muscle to being so sensitive that washing it in the shower is uncomfortable. It feels different than the other one. And while the Herceptin that I've been getting for the past year carries only one real side effect, it's a serious one. Potential heart failure at any point down the road. So that's something we'll have to keep an eye on. But all in all, I still count myself as having been profoundly blessed. Because I know I had it easy.

I think that's one of biggest keys to getting through the treatment. We have to keep in mind that it could always, ALWAYS,  be so much worse. Worse for me would be if it were someone other than myself. Because one of the things I have realized is that I find it profoundly easier to be the patient than to be the caregiver. Not because I dislike caring for others, but because it absolutely breaks my heart to see those I love in pain. I'm a fixer, I guess. Sadly, cancer isn't something that can be hugged or loved away.  Plus, I have no fear at all of dying. Losing those I love, however, is something I abhor.

Caring for and loving a cancer patient was infinitely more difficult for me than actually being the patient myself. Seeing what cancer did to my sister and mother-in-law hurt me in ways my own cancer couldn't begin to. I would gladly take on every illness of those I love just to keep them from having to go through it.

Which brings up another issue. My darling hubby has been diagnosed with type II diabetes. I have suspected it for a while and could kick myself for not forcing him to get tested sooner. It took his eyesight going haywire for him to finally admit something was wrong. Sure enough, his A1C test revealed that, at least for the past few months, his blood glucose levels have been hovering somewhere around 300! No wonder his eyesight went crazy. Funny thing is, it actually got better. A lot better. He's been on diabetes medication for about a month now and his eyesight is returning to normal, though it is still not back to where it was before.

He's a good patient, once he's actually convinced that there's a problem. He watches what he eats and was testing all the time until he got a handle on how certain foods effect his levels. I don't know if he's where he ultimately needs to be with his medication dosage, but he's come a long way from the high 200s and low 300s he was testing at in the beginning.

Ultimately, I see this as just another thing to be thankful for. Because God saw fit to give him a symptom he couldn't ignore. Because he's now being treated and is losing weight to boot. (Now, if I could just do the same. [sigh])  I'm almost finished with my treatment, he's easing into a new job, and life is incredibly good. I wake up every day thinking about how blessed we are.

So, I suggest that anyone out there who is struggling to find the good in their cancer battle might want to simply be thankful that it is them in the battle instead of their spouse, parents, siblings, or children. That's what I am most thankful for.