It has been an interesting roller coaster ride the past few days. Wednesday, May 21st, I went to meet the Radiation Oncologist. He told me the ‘unofficial’ pathology results reflected: T3-N1-M0. What does all this coding mean, you ask? All are ranked from 0-4, with ‘0’ being the best outcome and 4 being the worst. T=Tumor; N=Nodes; M=Metastasis. Thus, in my case, ‘T3’ applied to the size of the tumor, and since there was a ‘branch’ growth off of the main one, it totalled over 6cm (yes, I know – yikes) and needless to say it was considered big. ‘N1’ meant that although they removed eleven nodes, tests resulted in only three of them being a part of the C invaders within my body. ‘M0’ was the best news, as it meant that nothing had metastasized (phew! every little piece of good news IS just that – good news). All of those things combined rates me as Stage 3a.
The not-so-great news was that as a result of the aforementioned, they plan to ‘hit me, and hit me hard’. Yikes :-(. This means that once my surgery is healed up enough (they estimate in about two weeks) I will begin up to eight rounds of chemo. It will be strong and biweekly (rather than a more typical three week cycle). Then they’ll give me about one month to build my strength and hit me with approximately five weeks of radiation – five days per week. Holy crap! He then assured me that radiation was not nearly as hard to take as chemo. I politely asked him if he had experienced both, so that he could actually make that statement in confidence. No, indeed, he had not. At the end of the consultation he actually asked me if I had “any burning questions remaining”. Really? I asked him if he REALLY intended that punn. We both laughed, but I’m sure that question is no longer part of his vocabulary, lol.
Although much of that news was not a huge surprise, it took about a day for my brain to allow the force of that information – and the past few weeks for that matter – to sink in. Then I really did hit a wall. Wow. All I could think of was: they cut you up, poison you, burn you…..and then sit back and watch to see if you live. Is this STILL me they’re talking about?? Deep into ‘the hole’ I fell – for about a day and a half. How do you explain the hole to someone who has never been in it? Simply a deep, dark place where you think you want to remain, as the world passes by, perhaps forever. It’s kind of a perceived ‘safe place’, where no one can possibly hurt you any more. But it is not a place to stay – especially when you just keep receiving all of these amazing prayers, emails, messages and voices telling you that you are such a great person and have so much to live for. Slowly you crawl out of that place and find the sunshine again.
My sweet Mom came over and took me for a drive, gently reminding me of how she had gone through all of these similar emotions over thirty-five years ago when she had cancer – and she is still here, gracias a dios! At that time, the closest C clinic was over two hours away, so she would go and live there for the week, returning only on weekends. Thank goodness I’m minutes away from all of those treatments here in Peterborough. Everywhere I turn, I run into more friends who the dreaded C has touched during my time in Panama, and the Universe is bringing them all to me now with loads of love, knowledge and support – and I’m so incredibly grateful! So many things to be grateful for – my Gratitude Journal (yes Allyson, Cat and Rachel, I’m writing in it EVERY day!) is thickly-lined already!
Yesterday I borrowed my Dad’s camera, since mine has gone to camera heaven, pulled out my favourite lens from my own camera bag and took a couple of shots. Oh camera, I count thy ways I have missed you in my hands – you truly inspire me! The flower heading up this post is one from a bunch that my Mom bought me during our outing. To me, it represents all the facets of one life that are so intricately connected to make up a whole, beautiful, living thing created by God. Simply amazing. As I complete this post, the song Hallelujah, by Jeff Buckley, just came on again – what are the chances? None actually, as the Universe is always in action. I know there is a greater plan for me, and together, we are creating a ‘kick-ass’ path. So watch out world, although this C thing also brings us on an emotional roller-coaster, I do intend to stay focused on the part of the ride where I can clearly see the incredibly beautiful horizon!
By the way, the flower is called a ‘Pincushion’ Leucospermum Cordifolium; how apropos!