Monday, July 6, 2015

Last Day of Chemo and Cancer Recurrence

For the last 9 months it seems as though Steven and I have been on a roller coaster.  With both of us being diagnosed with cancer only weeks apart we have been overwhelmed with what was to come.  I was diagnosed with breast cancer and soon had a very real plan of attack to beat this cancer.  It was taken very seriously by all.  No one told me I was lucky to have this type of cancer.  No one down graded my feelings and worries.  

I had surgery (a double mastectomy) right before Christmas.  I then started chemo at the end of January.  Today was my very last chemo treatment which is indeed a great cause for celebration.  I'm not at the end of my journey.  I still have 5 weeks of radiation and maybe reconstruction (not yet decided) in the near future.  But what I think is the worse, is behind me.  

Steven was diagnosed with what all called the "good" cancer.  He has been told how lucky he is to have this type of cancer.  His plan of attack was not a great concern to his doctors.  They figured he waited so long that what was the harm in waiting longer.  It was greatly downplayed by all concerned.  Both of us at first believed the doctors and their jubilant attitude of having the "good" cancer.  We thought this would be easy.  Another surgery to remove the rest of the thyroid then iodine radiation.  Easy Peasy!  Right???  Not so much.  Steven was diagnosed with Stage III Papillary Thyroid Cancer.  He went through the 2 surgeries and the iodine radiation.  His radiation was actually done only a few days before my first chemo treatment.  So he was in isolation while I was sick downstairs.  I got to say that was fun.  Not!!!  Since that time he has been on the roller coaster of ups and downs with his medication.  Getting it regulated has been stressful.  We are still not there.  His physical and emotional health has suffered greatly.  He has very little energy.  He suffers from fatigue and cannot seem to loose weight.  He has joined a support group and has learned quite a bit more about his cancer.  He has learned that there is more to be concerned about then what the doctor has led us to believe.  For the last few months Steven has experienced difficulty swallowing again.  He made the decision to see my oncologist (who is wonderful by the way).  After meeting with my oncologist an ultrasound was ordered where 2 suspicious lymph nodes were discovered and a biopsy ordered.  Today while sitting in the chemo chair for the last time I got the call from my sweet husband that he again has cancer.  What a day!  What frustrates me is his other doctor didn't want to do the biopsy because they rely solely on the blood tests and they looked great.  I'm upset with their lack of concern.  I'm tired of them blowing him off and the constant reminder that he has the "good" cancer.  This is NOT a good cancer.  There is no good cancer.  I wonder if the doctors realize what they are doing when they tell their patients this.  It belittles what is actually a big deal for the person with the cancer.  It also seems to lessen the concern on the medical side point.  It gets swept under the rug so to speak. 

Through our cancers I have been spoiled by those around me while my husband for the most part has been left on the side line.  Mostly his concern is for me.  But the more he learns about his cancer the more concerned he becomes about what is going on with him.  Now that I am beginning to learn more about his cancer I am becoming concerned as well.  My husband is precious to me.  He is my best friend, my confidant, my love.  His welfare is important to me.  I want him with me for a long time.  We have been blessed to be sealed in the LDS Temple in Ogden Utah for time and all eternity.  That is a comfort to me, but I'm not ready to be left here without him for a time.  

The recurrence of cancer is scary.  We don't know for sure how far it has spread and how serious this is going to be.  But I'm hoping that the doctors will wake up and realize that this is real and we are scared.  Don't tell us this is the "good" cancer.  It is far from the "good" cancer.  It has changed our lives.  Our life seems to be all about cancer right now.  It is hard to see past that.  We are effected daily by it.  

Today has been both a good and bad day.  I finished my chemo which is reason to celebrate.  I'm so happy that I don't have to do this again.  I'm ready for the side effects to dissipate.  I'm ready for the full head of hair and eyebrows that don't have to be drawn on.  I'm ready be able to go to bead without my toes driving me crazy from the burning and itching.  I'm ready to be able to walk without getting tired so fast.  

Renea (my sister-n-law) got me a cake to celebrate today and Steven and Katie (my daughter) got me some flowers.  I had a wonderful friend, Christine, take me to my chemo.  I love it when Christine takes me.  She is so upbeat and I feel myself with her.  I have come to love so many in my ward the last 9 months.  I am amazed at their willingness to love and serve.  I have gotten to know many of the Sisters in my ward and they will be my forever friends.  This evening the girls were all excited to celebrate with me by having the yummy cake.  

The news of Steven's cancer recurrence has of coarse damped that experience.  But we will continue to fight.  We are not giving up.  We will beat these cancers!
Although we struggle with the physical aspect of all of this we also have recognized our blessings.  We have been surrounded by angels, both those temporal and spiritual.  I can feel them and their love for us.  I know that in the end all will be well.  But the road is a hard one.  At times it can be overwhelming.  Yesterday was fast and testimony meeting at church.  I felt the desire to go and share my testimony, but let my youngest who was pretending to be asleep in my arms keep my in my seat.  But I want all who read this to know how grateful I am for the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Because of the knowledge I have of the atonement I have peace.  I love my Father in Heaven and want to do all that is right that I may someday return to him.  I hope to exemplify those around me that serve so selflessly.  They are true disciples of Christ.  I love my Savior and older brother, Jesus Christ.  I am so grateful for his love and atoning sacrifice for me.  I hope that I can follow his example and have charity for all.  I am so grateful to be surrounded by spiritual giants.  Your testimonies have strengthened me and your example of love, service and sacrifice astounds me.  Our family has been greatly blessed.  

I want to shout out to all my sisters in this fight.  Your willingness to share your experience has boosted me.  You are all so amazing!  We are not alone.  I am coming to understand the often seen phrase of fighting cancer.  Before I didn't feel like a fighter, just someone who had to do what I didn't want to have to do.  But today I feel that I am a fighter.  I still have a long road ahead as well as my husband.  But we are fighters.  We will come out the other side better and stronger.  We will come out the other side more compassionate and filled with more love for those around us.  We will come out the other side more Christ like.  And it is because of the examples you have set.  Thank you and may God Bless you all!