T3N1M0 Snapshot

IMG_9889It 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!


About denisemacdonald

I am a Canadian entrepreneur who has been spending the majority of my time between Canada and Panama, Central America. Living oceanfront, I am an 'investment consultant', predominantly in the area of real estate in the beaches areas. Photography is my hobby. In April, 2014 I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Triple Negative Breast Cancer. I will be sharing my journey here on these 'pages'. If you would like to learn more about "Triple Negative" breast cancer, please click onto http://www.tnbcfoundation.org/.
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12 Responses to T3N1M0 Snapshot

  1. Steve Doane says:

    Hey Denise~ Glad to hear you’re receiving some good news. Missing you AND my Adele, who is currently in Boston visiting her son. All the best & we hope to see you back here before too long.

    • Thanks Steve. Yes, the good news was a nice break. Hitting it from all angles: food, homeopathics, herbs, etc. I don’t think it stands a chance!

      • Linda says:

        Hello Denise
        I have been reading a lot and finding amazing things about tumeric and flax seed oil. Tumeric helps to reduce the symptoms associated with chemo and radiation. I got pills at Joanne’s health food store.
        If you ever need to talk I am here. I have just finished my 23rd of 30 radiation treatments after completing 126 days of chemo – yes I was counting.
        Hugs (of the gentle sort)

  2. mslook says:

    You are amazing!! I am so happy about the M0 part!! We miss you so much here!! Looking forward to that moment when you will be back!! Love you!

  3. KAREN KEY says:

    Ah, Denise! You write beautifully. Black holes are hard to avoid with cancer. At least you know now that you can climb out. The chemo is going to be tough and the radiation painful. You know it, but you are going to kick the ass of C. So happy you have a strong support group there to hold your hand and head. So keep climbing out of those dark places and come back to Panama stronger than ever! Love and miss you.

    • Thank you Karen – you are so sweet. I’m so grateful for the support team I have, both near and far – you are all amazing and inspiring. Love and miss you too gf! xo

  4. Phyllis says:

    Sweet Denise, it is such a blessing for you to have so many close to you in Petersborough to lift you up during this crazy time. Your writing describes so well the pit and the way you write of coming out of it is breathtaking. You are on the other side! Love the M0m diagnosis and even though the chemo and particularly the radiation will hit you hard, you will prevail! Love, prayers and hugs from El finca de fenix on Calle Las Perlas!

    • Thank you Phyllis – you are awesome. I have to constantly remind myself to not worry about days to come, but the enjoy the day I’m in. One day at a time is the key right now I think. And seeing myself healthy and flourishing once again! xo

  5. Tracey says:

    Love and admire your strength…black holes are no place for a woman like you!

  6. Karyn says:

    I know the hole as you well know and know that it does serve its purpose and is often a very very comfortable place. I am thrilled you have found our way out of it as you will need to walk that path I few times I am sure as you continue through your journey. I am now caught up on all of your blog posts…..keep on keeping on mi amiga!!

    • Thank you Karyn, and thank you for your Facebook comment that you wrote. It means a great deal to me to receive feedback like you have been given – in more ways that you know! Gracias amiga – and stay clear of that hole!! 😉

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