Thursday, August 25, 2011

Top it off

It took me about 48 hours to get my head around this, but I wanted to let you all know that I am back in the game. Got my head on straight again. Standing up. No longer lying in the soil.

It suddenly dawned on me this morning that, hell, there's only one way to think about this: Just keep on living. Just like I was before I heard the news. Enjoy this day. Go out. Play with kids. See friends. Why shouldn't I? None of us know how long we'll be on this earth. I can't predict the end game here. Chemo might work fabulously for me once again. So, nose to the grindstone, do it. But in the meantime, enjoy what you've got. Try not to let fear paralyze you, or spin you into a deep funk. It might ultimately be wasted energy. (If history teaches me anything, I could be in good shape again in less than a year.) Be strong. Let friends help you and love you. Love them right back. Appreciate everything, as much as you can. Have faith in the treatment plan that has been set up for you. Recognize your tremendous physical and mental strength as the gifts that they are. Be patient. Be brave. Be happy, even. Glass half-full. Glass 3/4 full.

Oh heck, let's go a little crazy here and fill that glass all the way.

Then let's try to stop using corny idioms altogether.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Robin Deadbreast

A collective shout-out to everyone who has contacted me in the last two days. I have responded to precisely ZERO of you because my mind is reeling and I don't really know what to say or think.


It's hard to hear news like this when you feel, look, and seem 100%. You just keep shaking your head and furrowing your brow. "How could it BE? How could something grow from NOTHING?" You look at your abdomen, disgusted something so evil could be lurking, even flourishing, inside.

After my last foray into the upside-down chemo world, it took me a while to get out of the "sick" mindset and return to "old Shelly". Where you start to look around at life and feel like, yes, this could all be yours once again! "A new car!" You almost don't dare to hope such a thing could really be true. Around 3 a.m. last night, an image entered my mind of a bird soaring freely in the sunshine, lost in its reverie. Then suddenly it slams into a glass window. I could practically feel the dirt under my own back as I blinked up at the sky, confused, clutching my own broken body.

And I did not take any drugs last night.

It's going to take me a while to get used to being a patient again. To get back into the chemo groove, of being sick and tired and hobbled some of the time. This time, too, I'm going to have to let my savvy little daughter (and son, I suppose) in on the story. It's got to come from me, so I'll deal with this soon.

I feel a lot of things: discouraged, confused, scared, furious, indignant, sad, shocked, wary, exhausted. And moderately hopeful, but sometimes not.

So the way I chose to deal with it today was just do my best to forget about it. To take the kids to see the Caspar Babypants concert, meet Neil for lunch, cook dinner, water the plants, look for homes. Maybe later we'll take the kids up to the pool, though I know Neil is utterly exhausted.

This post may seem a little indulgent, yammering away about my muddled feelings, but I figure some of you are wondering how the ol' gal's doing. I think the answer is: Fine. Dealing with it. Letting it sink in. Trying to figure out what's next. Fully aware of how sucky this all is.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


PET results in.

The cancer is back. CyberKnife didn't seem to work completely. A new liver spot, as well. Starting chemo again on Friday. The same Folfox as before. Every two weeks I will spend two days hooked up to chemo. For... 6 months?

It worked last time. It should work again. My doc has seen people require a number of courses of chemo til they finally go five years cancer-free. I have hope. And I have some work to do.

Friday, August 19, 2011

No news yet

Hi all,

Just a quick note to say that I haven't heard back on my PET scan results yet. I promise to post it here when I do. I am not sweating it, to be honest. I have a good feeling about it.

Happy weekend!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Peanut butter and fish

After a glorious summer of health, happiness, and normalcy, tomorrow I return to the shit-for-brains cancer world for a PET scan. Just heading in that damned building makes my quills stick up. That place SMELLS like terror.

This scan will prove if radiation I got in April and May worked. And, just as importantly, that the rest of my body remains cancer-free. If the latter proves to be true, it will be almost TWO YEARS since any NEW cancer has been detected in my body. (Apparently, the spots they burned earlier in the year were old cancer, cancer they already knew about, and that's significant and different than if new spots were growing rampantly in new places.)

I am not a numbers gal, FAR FROM IT (has anyone seen my solar calculator?), but in this utterly senseless cancer dimension, things are completely uncertain and unpredictable, so you gravitate toward anything concrete. In this case, I look at survival rates, WHICH I KNOW, I KNOW, I should completely ignore because I am just one spot on the spectrum and what happens to "most people" doesn't apply to me. Hell, I shouldn't be in this group in the first place. But still, it's hard to ignore those dreary numbers.

And yet, shitty stats being what they are, if this scan comes up clean, my long-term survival percentages will rise dramatically. It will be almost two years with no new cancer. I will be a respectable distance down the survivor road. It's almost too much for me to think about. How can I possibly allow my hopes to rise, when I know all too well how devastating it feels to have them dashed? The results will be what they will, and I am placing myself in a protective "cross that bridge" mindset.

I'm hopeful. If I were sitting at the Vegas Sands right now, I'd put all my chips on GREEN. (Dad, I know. You raised me better than that. That's not how gambling works.) But it's my not-so-swift-in-the-cranium way of saying, I think I'm going to pass the scan. I just feel too damned normal and good for it to be any other way.

So today: the PET scan diet. No carbs. No sugars. No fruits. Only proteins. Nuts. Cheese. Lean meats. PTTTTTTTH.

And tomorrow at 8 a.m., the PET scan. Then, I am going to let my doctor call me with the results whenever he gets them. I am not going to hound him and live in a state of desperation, where the sound of the phone ringing fills my entire being with utter terror. It's too taxing. I'll let you know when I find out the results.

Love, Shelly
B.A., drama