Monday, 12 November 2012

The elephant in the room

Some days the questions and general chit chat are awkward and it really feels like conversations are being censored.

People skirt the 'cancer' , while others go so far and are quite direct in asking me my prognosis (here I specifically mean mortality).

We had the same questions and issues with my husband who had a very rare malignant tumour removed 2 yrs and 6 weeks radiation. 

I have Early Breast Cancer stage 2 grade 2 .
Last week a nurse mentioned to me they are treating me 'aggressively' - though as far as I am aware it is standard treatment for patients at the Sydney clinic I began my chemo at, but slightly different protocols to the new clinic and new Drs (they are specialists from a different Sydney hospital who fly in /fly out once a week)

I don't have a crystal ball for the future but right now things are good .
They don't know why some people go on to develop metastatic breast cancer.
To clarify I don't have any evidence of metastic breast cancer though I had one lymph node positive (local spread from breast to one lymph node - 31 were removed from under my left arm 
I am trying to stay positive and keep abreast of every bit of info I see tweeted or shared.
It is really easy to be scared by the information but I'm more scared of not knowing it.

I'm grateful I don't look or feel terribly sick , though some days I feel like I look terrible.

I am healthy but some days I do suffer side effects of the now weekly chemo.
You can't see them , I tolerate them without much problem.

A close relative (aged 62) has terminal cancer stage IV , a rare malignant brain tumour - (they can't even be sure which one). They were talking 14 months earlier this year, now with Christmas fast approaching , they (but not in her presence) are talking possibly about it being her last Christmas. It breaks my heart when they say this, how unwell she is becoming, that she can no longer drive and they have concerns about her memory and the uncertain plans for her future.

Though no-one knows when they or another else will draw their last breath.
We, I , always live in hope. Each day that I wake up is like winning the lottery ... though I've never purchased a ticket -you know what I mean ! It is another day, another chapter to write in my life book as I quietly kick ass and get on with it.

Each time I go for chemo (like today) and they say  
" I'm running it slowly because I don't want you to have a reaction" 
I can only nod ...!
It is always a fear in the back of my mind but last week it was infused faster...
Everyday, I fight a 'battle' of fears , "what if'" and unanswered questions in my mind. I have moments where I feel overwhelmed by the potential short and long term side effects. The moments pass quickly most of the time.

On the subject of questions - I'm not asking anyone to censor things and conversely I shouldn't feel like I have to either. I don't mind answering questions or talking about my cancer , the elephant in the room. Of course I don't want friends and family to feel they need to focus on the elephant my cancer every time we interact.

I don't go into details with strangers or people I've just met.

My - our - life is continuing as normally as possible in between treatments.Though I have a year of one treatment to go, 8 weeks of chemo and 5 years of an anti oestrogen tablet medication once I finish Chemo.

At the moment even when I forget for a few minutes hours, my head, my body, and even emotions remind me. I have a constant feeling of tightness/pulling in my left armpit / to the underside of my chest. It isn't painful, mostly a slight discomfort. I can easily forget about my 'breasts' for hours.

The hardest thing is feeling the need to act like everything is the same as it was before my diagnosis, because it's never ever going to be.

In the big picture there has to be a balance between acknowledging the elephant , accepting and ignoring it. I'm learning fast.

PS I love blogging and I am grateful I can continue to attend events and still be invited. It was so lovely to meet and hug so many of my favourite bloggers at the Bloggers brunch.