It Just Dawned On Me

Today is my sister’s birthday.  She would have been 55 today.

My sister’s battle with Ovarian Cancer ended in February of 1999.  She was 41 years old.  She was diagnosed in October 1998, in remission by December 1998, and dead by February 23, 1999.  Treatment for cancer of the lady parts has come a long way since then.  I thank God it has.

Betsy was a one of a kind.  Beautiful, intelligent, and she had a laugh that could light up a room…loud and high pitched and happy.  My sister loved the beach.  My sister loved agriculture.  She loved Neil Diamond, Carley Simon, George Thorogood, and her kids (not necessarily in that order).  She had laughing brown eyes, and frizzy hair that she let me play with when I was little.  She loved chocolate.  She vaccuumed obsessively. 

I will be 41 next month.  The same age she was when she got her diagnosis and subsequently passed away.  I am alive today in part because of the research techniques they launched during my sister’s illness.

Today, I honor my sister’s memory.  I honor all those who have gone before me into this elite club called “Cancer Survivor.”

Happy Birthday Bets.  Love you.  Miss you.  Every single day.

Nothing Quite Like Hot Flashes and Night Sweats…in August.

So, here we are, a year out from my hysterectomy, and things are still, well, not quite back to normal.  I guess they probably never will be.  Surgical menopause IS different from natural menopause because you are thrown into it.  And it kind of sucks.

I was hoping by now that the hot flashes would kind of calm down.  And during the day, they had.  Night sweats, well, not so much.  But lately, this past week, they hot flashes during the day have stepped up their game.  Nothing like being in in a feezing cold office only to be struck by a hot flash and feel like you are going to combust from the inside.  Then you get all sweaty, and just as quickly as it starts, it’s over.  And you are sweaty, and once again in a freezing office.  So you are even colder.

Boo.  Boo on that, I say.

Other things are still not what they should be.  I have been stretching the old vajayjay as prescribed, but it is still tight and scarred down there.  Gyno exams hurt, and I tend to tear.  And they keep asking if Bob and I have had relations.  Um, no.  Haven’t tried it yet.  First of all, with the big old lack of hormones floating around, the desire isn’t really front and center.  Plus, deep down, I’m scared it will be painful, and I don’t want to throw him off and have him feel like it’s his fault.  Plus there is that whole “My mom is in the next room thing” which was exciting in highschool, but now that I’m nearly 41, not so much.

I am trying to take steps to make the menopause go easier.  Cleaner eating (not totally clean, as I don’t buy into that, and neither does my oncologist), a lot more exercise, and trying to get back to “normal.”  Plus, Bob and I are going to try to “get away” a little more.  Just some time for us – date nights, week ends away…

I guess this is my new normal.  Wonder how long it will be until I’m actually used to it?

Post Chemo Hair

image

My hair has come in thick and full and c.u.r.l.y.  I had curly hair before, but now it is even more curly.  I am hoping when it finally grows long enough that it will stay this kinky.  My husband is loving the ringlets.

image

image

Let’s Get Mathematical

1 year.

A year ago today, I was going in for a hysterectomy.  With a diagnosis of pre-cancerous cells.  A hysterectomy was the cure for what I had, so in I went.

4 Quarters.

I woke up in the recovery room, and my husband was standing over me.  Sobbing.  I’ve never seen my husband cry.  Never before that day.  The crying, the look in his eyes, it told me more than any doctor ever could.

Cancer.

12 months.

Endometrial Adenocarcinoma.  Stage III 2C.  4mm into my uterus.  Spread to 19 of 21 lymph nodes.  My surgical oncologist said, “I got it all, but you’ll need treatment.”

52 Weeks.

Three weeks after my surgery, I began sandwich therapy.  3 Rounds of Paclitaxal and Carboplatin (3 weeks apart) followed by 25 external beam radiation treatments that radiated from my breastbone to my vagina.  Followed by 3 treatments of Internal Radiation.  Followed by 3 more rounds of Paclitaxal and Carboplatin.  When it was all said and done, my last round of chemo ended on March 18th.

365 Days

I have been in remission for 365 days.  NED.  No Evidence of Disease.  I’ve had six CT Scans to prove it.  I’ll have no more unless symptoms present.  In 365 days, my life has forever changed.  I will always be a cancer patient.  I have been through medical hell and back.  Mentally and physically tested.  I have won my first year battling a Stage 3 Cancer diagnosis.  I am still recovering from my chemo treatments that ended six months ago.  I have lost any hope at ever becoming a mother naturally.  I have learned so very much about myself over the past 365 days.  And I have come out stronger, more assured of myself, and what I want from my life.  I have been lucky enough to have my life partner and soul mate by my side…loving me unconditionally, supporting me, comforting me, holding me, and growing closer than I ever knew possible.  I have learned the value of true friends.  I have repaired relationships.  I have let go of unhealthy ones.  I have learned what it truly feels like to live.  I’ll never ever take that for granted again.  I have learned not to sweat the small stuff, and you know what?  Everything is small stuff.

I am a survivor.  I am strong.  I have forged the hardest battle of my life.  I have won that battle.  And I am confident I will win this war.

1 year.  4 Quarters.  12 months.  52 Weeks.  365 days.  And Counting.