Defying the Odds

Dorm Bath :-)

Has it really been a month since this surreal ‘dream’ started?  Tell me again that this is JUST a pinched sciatica nerve and that it WILL go away in just a few short days, like so many people assured me…… No, huh?

I received my diagnosis of Leptomeningeal Carcinomatosis (LC) on May 20th, 2015 – exactly ONE YEAR to the date that I had my double mastectomy surgery. How ironic is that? At the time of my return from Panama (May 18th), I had absolutely no use of my lower body and could not even wiggle my toes. I needed assistance for absolutely everything, but most especially going to the bathroom, moving myself even just a few inches on my bed – and pretty much most things that involved moving in any way. The first few nights that I woke up in the middle of the night after my diagnosis I went into full panic mode, as the echo of the doctor’s words reverberated in my head. 

Unlike a year ago, when I was diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer and I went research-crazy on the Internet, I haven’t googled LC more than a few times, as it appears that it all leads to the same path – a very unhopeful and short one. After about the fourth night of waking up, replaying my diagnosis in my mind, I decided to shut down those panic attacks, take the fear, and turn it into strength.  Now what I am doing is believing that I WILL be the one who will defy the odds

They told me right away that radiation was my only hope for potentially regaining any movement in my lower extremities, so I agreed to it right away. They explained there was about a 48-hour window for success and that they would be surprised, given the time that had already passed, if we would see much improvement . My first of five radiation treatments began the very next day from when it was recommended – on May 21st, with the final treatment being completed on the 27th. The purpose of the radiation treatments was to potentially shrink the tumours that have attached to and gotten within the membrane of the spinal cord. Within a very short period of time, radiation has surpassed what the doctors ever believed it would do to help me.

About two weeks ago, the radiation oncologist was shocked that could wiggle some toes slightly. Yesterday, I walked all the way around the hall using only my walker without stopping (yes I was accused of being just a little stubborn for refusing to rest part way)! My legs and lower extremities are getting stronger and stronger each day, although my feet are still prickly and ‘sleepy’ –  so I am constantly wiggling and rubbing them! Needless to say, the doctors are blown away with my newfound movement and abilities.

Today I had an amazing bath in the big soaker tub. The Turkish Bath Maid appeared to have sadly missed her shift, but my awesome student nurse, Emily was a pretty awesome stand-in. Photo credit above 😁. I have to say, it was an awesome experience and I’m feeling very spoiled with the amazing care I am receiving here!

I also got to have a hall pass today to go to my parents’ house to celebrate Father’s Day with my family, my sweet husband and a couple of great friends. Although I needed a couple of ‘naps on the spot’ it was awesome to escape the dorm room for the afternoon and experience more moments of ‘normal’.

I’ve been reminded by doctors that just because I’m regaining movement, it doesn’t mean the cancer is disappearing (they prefer to keep it real and I understand that). However what they don’t understand is that I’m not the kind of person who just listens and does what she’s told. I like to WIN. I like to be the one to defy the odds. 

I am not just sitting here waiting for it all to come crashing down around me. I am pushing hard with physiotherapy, trying alternative methods to kick this C and make it go away and intending to defy the odds which appear to be stacked quite high against me! Look out world – I’m not finished here yet!

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
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20 Responses to Defying the Odds

  1. John July says:

    It is very difficult to reply …. there are not enough words to express how you blow me away. You remind me what we are capable of. I can’t cheer loud enough … you are amazing.

  2. You are trully an inspiration Denise!
    You’re gonna make it, you’re amazing!

  3. Ellie Wharton says:

    Every day you are in our prayers. God is in control.

  4. Teresa says:

    Thank you Denise for you endless inSPIRITation – you are truly leading us all on your journey, assisting us to look at our lives in so many ways. The mind and spirit has such potential for transformation and you have it all together!! Follow it Girl, Rock it and kick it 🙂 We all love you dearly and keep sending that vibe to empower every moment. We are blessed to have you in our lives ❤ Namaste

  5. Annette zammit says:

    You are absolutely amazing Denise keep fighting and believing in overcoming this horrendous C , the body and mind have the ability to cure itself, pray hard as well because miracles also happen! All our love Annette and Charlesxxxx you are a true inspiration love reading your blog!

  6. Rick & Darcey says:

    You and I are so much alike. My wife Darcey was told by hospital staff to “gather his things a let his family know that he definitely won’t make it.” Through determination, stubbornness and staying positive and being surrounded with love and positivity, I’m still here!

    Nine years ago, a friend with advanced Prostate C was given four months. Today, he’s still as stubborn as you and I.😊

    You too WILL prove that doctors can be wrong!

  7. Melanie says:

    You are truly amazing YOU GO GIRL!! If anyone can beat this C you can!! xo 🙂

  8. Josh Kern says:

    Go Denise! Awesome update. Next post you will be doing squat cleans and burpies. 😉 LoveYa.

  9. Dave says:

    I had no idea that this was the current chapter in your story Denise. Thanks for sharing – I’ll be thinking of you and cheering for your WIN 🙂

  10. Maryagnes says:

    When did you start the Hemp Oil? I guess it’s difficult to separate it’s effects from the radiation vs the oil. I’m so impressed with your progress. Your words are encouraging for me. Thank you for all the sharing.

  11. Joy Novello says:

    You are capable of defying the odds
    You are a winner in all respects from star volleyball player to successful real estate salesperson
    Great friend,wonderful mother and supportive loving wife
    Let’s not forget intriguing fluent writer
    Positive thinker and creative networker
    We all love you Denise and are sending uplifting thoughts to you
    Keep that winning attitude

  12. Aleta says:

    Hi Denise, I am Thea’s sister, Aleta. After Thea shared your story with me a few weeks ago, it def made me very very sad, but mad too that you’re being robbed. I thought about how God loves to show up and defy the odds, make Drs question themselves and bring us hope…reminding us that He can redeem what has been taken from us. So I didn’t pray for you to have ease of chemo treatments and peace in your suffering- but for God to show up in a big way, and it looks like He has- keep the momentum of faith sister!

  13. Gayle Henderson says:

    Denise, you are truly amazing and I totally believe if anyone can defy the odds, you can. I am Judi’s friend and we met in Panama. ( remember when your dog took a ridiculous leap off of a cliff at the beach?). Your strength will be part of the medical records and be inspiration to those that meet similar impossible odds! You are in my thoughts and I am following your journey. Power on!

  14. Mack says:

    Denise, I know you from Panama, and I am now in Florida undergoing treatment for cancer. It was “sort of” diagnosed at the Coronado Costa Pacifico clinic, although their usual diagnosis involves prescribing pills that the pharmacists there may or may not have. I had to come to the correct conclusion and set up our trip to Jacksonville. Age-wise we are way apart – you are just a baby. Having had a wonderful and full life, I no longer fear the future we all will meet, but THERE IS NO REASON NOT TO STRETCH THE TIMELINE, and you are doing that. What amazes me about you is your determination and mind control. I so wish I could learn how you can move your thoughts into the positive, while I tend to spend most of my time in the negative. You inspire me more than anyone or anything, so please keep it up for the next several years.

    • Thank you for your message Mack. The key is to focus on the present – not the past and not the future. Enjoy each moment to the fullest. That’s it. If you dwell on all the negative, you will waste all of those precious moments that you have!

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