On Nov. 1st, 2010 I was diagnosed with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer with the “mets” meaning they found it in my bones. I was a fresh 32-years-old at the time. My mom had died almost exactly a year before my diagnosis from cancer.
For the past four years, I have seen, like a mirage in the desert that distinct hope of making it five years. I have known the outcomes if I could just stumble to that five year line. Maybe it’s more a mental thing than a scientific one. All I can say was on that fateful day in 2010 percentages for my survival were not in my favor, but they drastically changed if I could live, without major recurrence, to five years. The years have gone by and I have had a solid maintenance treatment plan, one that had me crossing my fingers, knocking on wood, to get to five years. Unfortunately, that time was witness to the devastating loss of my dad and my little brother, Joe, to yet again, cancer. Cancer, it was all around me, in fact not just around but inside my body as well. But, with all that loss, each scan allowed my heart and mind to grow a little more settled. I tried to embrace change and living in the now every. single. day. In my mind, I was just one scan away from my house of cards feeling a breeze! Whether it was vacations with the kids, a hike when I really didn’t want to go, a bike ride when I was tired, I embraced it. I embraced it only to think it could all be taken away at any time, make the memories with the kids because if tomorrow a bad scan comes up, you know they are going to have awesome memories. Take the trip, eat dessert first every now and again, leave the laundry in lieu of heading to an amusement park. Breathe in and appreciate all that is around you right now!
The new year, 2015, came roaring in and from the very first day of the year my mind was ahead to Nov. 1st. Crazy to skip right over glorious summer in Wisconsin and set my sights on Nov. 1st. But, I had a plan, my big five year “Cancerversary” a trip with my husband. We would celebrate this major milestone and essentially a “rebirth” with a grand trip somewhere fantastic! We were secretly plotting, not wanting to say anything too loud, wouldn’t want Cancer to find out our grand plans. Wouldn’t want to jinx this momentous event. The New Year found me with a new oncologist, my beloved Dr. B was hanging up his stethoscope after many years of fighting cancer. It wasn’t easy thinking about how celebrating that five year with any other doc could possibly have the same joy and accomplishment? Could it?
Moving forward my first meeting with Dr. G went well, he spent a ton of time reviewing every piece of my medical record. He was extraordinarily intelligent and very thorough. My first maintenance infusion went well. I missed Dr. B, but maybe, just maybe, Dr. G would work out. Plus – -I still got to see all those wonderful nurses, schedulers, social workers, etc..these were my people. They had been with me like family. I can’t really explain the bond that is forged when you have cancer and you continue to live, they see you in your good, your bad and your downright ugly! They are the faces that you remember and you know what? They remember you too, they remember your kids names and how your brother passed, they show up at funerals and go above and beyond when you NEED test results sooner, PLEASE. They call you to make sure you are ok. These, these are my people. Maybe headed into 2015, this make or break year would be okay after all?