I wrote this a couple days ago and meant to post it but when I finished writing it I was interrupted and had no time to proofread or edit it until now.
When thinking about my life I can’t really say I’ve had a really bad one. I know it isn’t what it possibly could have been however I also know it isn’t as awful as other people’s lives have been, so complaining about it many times feels like I’m being ungrateful, even now when facing chemo and radiation treatments.
I was standing in the shower thinking about all of this and as usual I had no way of recording my thoughts so I could repeat them in my blog or journal so I lost most of the really good flow of non-censorship and connectivity that comes with just relaxing and letting the thoughts flow.
It is hard to think about what chemo and radiation are going to do to me. I know I’ll be a nervous wreck at my first treatment. I expect I’ll just let them drug me enough so I won’t care and possibly not remember a whole lot about it. Some of you who have been reading my blog are probably wondering what ever happened to my determination to not let them give me chemo or radiation treatments and how firm I am on natural products instead of pharmaceutical drugs. I don’t remember if I said it but accepting chemo or radiation would be my last resort, so maybe that gives you an idea of where I am right now emotionally.
A long time ago someone reminded me that all things have at least a single natural source otherwise it could not exist. What is done by man with that natural source and how it is combined with other things is what makes it unnatural. I was then reminded that there are some substances that if taken too much of can kill us and in fact anything that is good and healthy for us if taken too much can kill us. Just think about water. We can drown in it. We can drink too much of it which can cause serious problems in our body. There are also cases where a tiny poisonous substance can help us heal or destroy something that would otherwise kill us and in that the poison then becomes a healing substance.
I’ve had an internal argument with myself over the past couple of months as to what I should or should not allow to happen. The bottom line however came down to what I MUST do in order to be around to raise my daughter.
If you believe in God. If you believe in what is written in the bible then you must also believe that we were created in the image of God. Adam and Eve had a choice. They had a choice to either eat or not eat the fruit from the tree God told them not to eat. If we were not meant to manipulate natural substances in order to make other substances to help or harm, then we would not have been given the choice, and we would not have been given the brain capacity to do what we can do and in that respect we would not have been elevated above the common animal and given the responsibility of taking care of them and nature. Some may think altering nature is not taking care of it. I honestly can’t say I agree or disagree either way. Without this manipulation I could possibly be looking at only living a few more years instead of living beyond ten years as the statistics imply I will do with the treatment options being offered.
Financially I cannot afford the alternative treatments I’ve read about by some of the doctors who are trying to find other ways to get rid of cancer. If I could, I would try them, so my choices have been limited by my situation. This by no means has put me in a defeatist attitude. I believe things happen for a reason and for whatever reason I accept them. That doesn’t mean I’m not scared to death of what chemo and radiation will do to me. I am also one who does not like taking pharmaceutical medications however I have also come to accept the fact that for now these will be necessary to get me through this. If necessary I will accept the medications to numb me emotionally if my nerves become too much on edge and make it difficult for me to function.
For now, I know this is temporary. Depending on the treatment, I’m looking at 4 to 6 months of chemo followed by radiation and then for the next 5 years on hormonal therapy that shuts down or blocks estrogen. I am hoping my medical insurance will approve the 4 month treatment even though it means me giving myself or a friend giving me injections at home. The injections will boost my white blood cells. It is called the Victory Program. However, it is very expensive, so I’m waiting to hear if I’m approved and if so then what it means for me financially. If I can’t afford it I was told there may be some financial help for me. If not then I’ll be looking at the 6 months of treatment instead.
I learned all of this at my appointment at the Cancer Clinic Halloween day. A good friend went with me and I recorded the consult with the oncologist. We were there from 10am until about 1:30pm, no break for lunch either. I have more appointments facing me before treatment starts. Lab work has to be done, a CT scan and a special heart scan to check the strength of my heart muscle. There is one medication that puts a strain on the heart muscle and they need to make sure my heart muscle is strong enough to handle it.
I also have to attend what they call a Chemo Teach that all cancer patients have to attend. I will be going to that class tomorrow which will be followed by my heart scan.
I did find out as part of my treatment the Cancer Clinic offers counselling for me and my family. I was surprised to receive a call from one of their doctors the following Monday. After some discussion about me and my daughter, he assured me that all I have to do is call them when I want to set up an appointment. I asked if following the chemo class I felt the need, could I just stop by, since I wasn’t sure if anyone would be able to go with me and he said most definitely. In fact, he told me many patients combine their chemo treatments and counseling sessions on the same day.
On the same day I was contacted by the counselor, I was also called to set up the appointment for the heart scan, which is scheduled the same day as my chemo class. I was then also contacted by my short term disability representative. We talked a lot about what would happen over the coming months for me in regards to my being off work and pay. A couple weeks before Christmas I’ll be facing the fact that my full time pay will be reduced to 66%. Then in February when I go on long term disability, it will change to about 66.6% but then it will not be taxable so this should at least be of help. I asked her if being on short term or long term disability meant I could not work at all and she reassured me that no it did not mean that and would not cause an issue if I should have to go on full disability. They would need a release from my doctor stating I could work and what limitations there might be. I was glad to hear this because at times I have felt working would have been better than just sitting around watching television, knitting or just doing a few errands but then sometimes I’ve been surprised by just how little will tire me. Most of my pain is gone at least the worst of it is. I still have some discomfort, most of it is due to the limitations of my right arm movement as I push it to stretch it and exercise it. My work isn’t strenuous just can be stressful and they want to eliminate as much stress as they can from my life because the treatments I’m facing can be rather stressful. For now, we are waiting to see how I tolerate the chemo, then we’ll talk about the possibility of me going back to work if only part time.
I’ve been working on trying to make my home as comfortable as possible so if I’m sick from the treatments I will at least be as comfortable as possible. I’m also working on trying to set up a corner of my room as a comfort spot and inspirational and creativity type area where I can be alone or if someone wants to visit with me, sit and chat and have tea, or create together we can do so.
I’ve been taking our new dog for walks most mornings and sometimes in the evenings as well. With my friend living upstairs I’ve been doing a lot of walking up and down stairs. I haven’t kept track of how often but by the end of the day I can tell when I did a lot of it and I can feel the strain on my legs. This can only be good for me at this time since it is helping me become stronger.
I’ve been driving a rental for almost two weeks now. Two Monday’s ago I took my car in to the collision repair place to be repaired from the rear-end collision that occurred a while back a few days before my first surgery. I should have it back by Friday. The rental is nice but I miss some of the features my car has. The reason it took so long was because there was some underlying damage and they had to replace the whole bumper and repair some of the structural damage or something like that.
So things are moving along. I go through periods of just waiting and then being swept up in a whirlwind. They want to start my treatments within the next four weeks and will start them as soon as they have approval for the 4 month treatment and all the lab work and scans have been performed. I’m still waiting on finding out when the CT scan will occur. I had a call yesterday from someone from the Victory Program who is spearheading it for me, trying to get everything setup by helping me contact the provincial medical and pharmacare and my private medical coverage through work to find out how much coverage I have for the treatment so we can find out if I need financial assistance. I have never in my life had so many people just tell me to sit back and let them take care of getting everything set up for me. I truly do not believe I would be treated this way in the U.S. where I used to live.
Friday, Halloween, ended up being one of the best days I’ve had in a long time. Knowing my first appointment at the Cancer Clinic was on that same day sounds like I must be out of my mind, but in all honesty, it felt good to finally get things moving and the oncologist I spoke with was very supportive. Then all the Halloween activity when we got home between our two families was like a mad house, then a trip after the trick or treating was done to L’s friend’s house, people I’ve met who put a party on each year, and ran into a new friend there who has been both gracious and offered to help if she could. It is amazing how things that can seem so bad can bring such good into a person’s life. I’ve been blessed in many ways.