RE: Mission

With my radiation treatments behind me, I guess that I am considered to be in remission. At my last treatment there was an awkward little “ceremony” with the technicians, and I got to ring some wind chimes to signify the end. They were the deep-sounding “bongy” kind of chimes and I couldn’t help but have T. Rex’s “Bang a Gong” go through my head after I rang them.

The technicians clapped and gave me a certificate that I was done with my treatment. They then presented me with a selection of ©Thirty-One bags to choose from, that were filled with candy, snacks, socks, a blanket, and other miscellaneous goodies.

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I was also given a card and a handmade clay catch-all tray, created by some elementary students from Kewaskum Elementary School. I think that might have been the best part, I picture the time and effort that these kids put into making these items, and I will hold them dear to heart. I thank their parents for allowing me to have these treasures, I’m sure they’d prefer to keep them for themselves for the memories.

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After finishing with my last treatment, I stopped in the gift shop and bought some cheap little trinkets to commemorate being done with radiation. I probably don’t need more junk around the house, but they are small, and I will need the reminders to be strong for what’s yet to come.

What do I need to be strong for? Aren’t I finished? Nope.

Next up, is 5 to possibly 10 years of medication that can cause side effects so miserable, that there are support groups for it. It’s called Anastrozole. I have to say, I’m not a medication person. Instead, I take vitamins like crazy. I don’t even like taking anything for headaches, so this will be a challenge, especially if I am one of the unfortunate ones who react poorly to this medication.

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From what I’ve read, many become crippled from taking this medication. It strips the minerals from the bones which causes immense pain and it inflames the joints. The women in the group I belong to, call it the “devil pill” and these are women who have endured chemo. But it keeps us alive. To what quality of life, remains to be seen since from what I gather, the side effects start kicking in around the 2nd or 3rd month of taking it.

Going off of my meds due to adverse effects is (probably) non-negotiable for me. Especially since my doctor told me that due to my Oncotype DX score being 25 and my declining chemotherapy, I have a 30-40% chance of cancer coming back if I don’t take it. This particular medication changes those odds to around a 14% chance of return. So, cancer’s hold isn’t over for me yet, I will be dealing with this for a while.

I can’t help but have all these odds weigh heavily on me, hopefully as the years pass I can let them go.

I do want to thank the staff at Froedtert and my friends and family who brought me food, books, gifts, and cards. Thanks also to all who sent me Emails and messages of encouragement and advice. Those of you who cheered me on, I want you to know it meant a lot. My family for the most part was indifferent: “Eh, she’s strong, she has this handled.” Except for right after surgery, there was no extra help around the house or help with cooking and cleaning. Such is the life of a woman, but eh, I got it handled.

What remains to be seen is what the purpose of this experience has been for. I’m a member of a program at the YMCA called Livestrong and they help rehab cancer patients. There are about 8 of us in the program right now, it’s good to be with people who understand. Several former Livestrong members have volunteered as assistants in the program and have relayed stories about their cancers and used their experiences to help us. It is inspiring, and I might consider assisting in the future.

I know the phrase has become cliché, but cancer sucks. I’ve been through the wringer, especially emotionally. But now, my mission, should I choose to accept it, is to use my experience to help others. So many others have helped me, and I feel the need to pass that on. We can’t let bad experiences go to waste. I’ve built a good portion of my life on the foundation of bad experiences. I can say that God has given me double for my troubles in the past and I know he will do it again.

In the words of TV on the Radio:

Oh, here comes trouble
Put your helmet on, we’ll be heading for a fall
Yeah, the whole thing’s gonna blow
And the devil’s got my number
It’s long overdue, he’ll come looking soon
Yeah, the whole thing’s gonna blow

Oh, here comes trouble
These people talk too much, need to shut ’em up
Yeah, I’d rather be alone
Can you, can you feel that rumble?
All this borrowed time, it’s been running out
It’s the ending of the show

But I know now, yeah, yeah, I know now, yeah

Everything’s gonna be okay

2 thoughts on “RE: Mission

  1. Back in 2001 my mom had stage four ovarian cancer. I’m not sure how far cancer treatments have come since then, but I remember the fear and stress it caused when my mom had it. I hope everything goes well for you, and that you make it out all right and that the medication side effects don’t cause more harm than good.

    1. Cancer treatments are improving more and more each year. Two people that I know that were given months to live are now shrinking their tumors thanks to new drugs, giving them a shot at longer lives. Side effects are a bummer but they are thankful for more time. What I’ve learned from my battle is get out and live. Do the things you’ve put off. Go somewhere new, try new things. We are all dying, just at different speeds. Thank you for your kind thoughts, they are appreciated! Did your mom survive her cancer?

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