Returning to Chemoland

My 39th Birthday lunch with Auntie L & Miss M.   Looking swollen already.

My 39th Birthday lunch with Auntie L & Miss M. Looking swollen already.

I’ve been sucked into a vortex.  A seemingly endless space of sadness, self-pity, and pain.  It’s no fun living in this space.  I’ve been here before.  I don’t want to be here again.  And yet I can’t seem to pull myself out.  Out of the endless crying, the emotional eating, the depression, the self absorption.  I feel i’ve lost my spark.  My fight.  My mojo.  My inner warrior.

Sigh…

Three days ago I made the decision to move forward with more chemo.  I start today.

I’m not thrilled about the decision but feel it’s necessary at this point.  In the last 3 weeks the pain has gotten out of control.  My tumor markers rose from 90 to 245.  The circulation is practically cut off in my shoulder and arm.  Most mornings a few of my fingers are numb.  When i went to put up Miss M’s hair in a ponytail for ballet class the other day I couldn’t twist the elastic with my left hand.  My entire left arm is swollen.  Cancer swollen.  Swollen that reminds me of my mom’s body when the cancer took over and she was spiraling toward death.  I need help.  Hopefully chemo will be the help I’m looking for.

So off we go again to chemoland…

I had a new port surgically inserted into my chest Monday morning by a wonderful radiologist who did her medical training at NYU (instant brownie points).  As they wheeled me into the operating room, I felt the love, support, and prayers of everyone surrounding me and it brought tears to my eyes.    I was awake for the whole procedure (which I actually preferred) and the pain has been manageable with lots of good ol’ extra strength Tylenol.

Yesterday I went in for an echocardiogram to make sure my heart is strong enough to handle treatment.  Which has never been a problem before so I’m assuming it won’t be a problem now either.

Now this morning I meet with my oncologist and start chemo.  I’m set to do 2 of the 3 drugs I took the first time around (almost 2 years ago) – Taxotere and Herceptin.  I’ll be taking the medications through my port once a week.  We haven’t discussed end dates yet.  Right now I’m just trying to get the tumor load reduced before December so I can take my trip to Europe without being in pain.

Because let me tell you, being in pain completely sucks!  After living with chronic pain for the last 3 months I can sympathize with those suffering from painful chronic illnesses like fibromyalgia and arthritis.  My lord!  The pain just wears you down.  Takes away from your enjoyment of life.  How can you enjoy anything when your body is constantly screaming at you.  I just want to tell it to “shut the f*~k up!  Leave me alone!  Let me enjoy my walk in the woods, my meditation, my family dinner!”

And while I know it’s well & good to feel our feelings I also know that staying stuck in them is not healthy.  I know that negativity, stress, fear, and depression compromise my immune system and feed the cancer.  I can’t get stuck in this.  I’ve been here before.  In this depressed place.  I wrote about it on my blog here.  And I’ve pulled myself out before and I will do it again.

I watched a couple of clips from Oprah’s last Super Soul Sunday show with Kris Carr and Mark Nepo and their experiences with cancer last night.  You can watch the whole episode HERE, or just check out a couple of clips here:  Kris Carr and Mark Nepo.  I realize I need a lot more of this.  I need to surround myself with lessons, and wisdom, and gratitude, and acceptance, and spirit.  I feel most alive when I’m learning, growing, or connecting with other spiritual folks.  This is integral to who I am.  I need to make this a priority.

Although I have my doubts about the effectiveness of ALL forms of cancer treatment the one thing I never doubt is the importance of the mental and spiritual piece of healing.  I don’t think anyone can truly heal until they address the truth of their lives and come to a place of acceptance and understanding of the universe and their place in it.

I know I need to make life about living again and not just about avoiding death.  As Kris Carr said, I may never be “healthy” on paper but I can still be healed, healthy, and whole at my core.

Hopefully this chemo will kick my cancer back to the curb.  But i know I am the only one stopping myself from achieving my dreams and truly living life – for me.  Not for hubby, or Miss M., or the cancer.  For me.  It’s time I get out my own way.  Put the excuses aside.  Step out into the fear of the unknown.  And truly live life.

Here’s to living!!!!  – T