Third line defense? Hell – I hope that isn’t like third string defense? Because I don’t have a whole lotta faith in third string defenses? Ha.
I sat in my post-op appointment with Dr. G eagerly awaiting the news, any news, the path forward, the plan. (I should mention I sat semi-comfortably with the drain removed!) This is certainly a man with a plan, always a plan. So, there I sat and when he said we are on to our “third line now” and we think a monthly injection is the way to go. Hmm, okay back up, third line? What does that mean exactly. He quickly brushed over the fact that we had exhausted two other treatment methods/drugs or types of drugs at this point. Now, I sat there a bit perplexed? Should I be happy about this? Should I be sad? Disappointed?
I should note that the day before this appointment – officially marked FIVE years. Yes, five years ago – I heard that I had cancer. It seems like an eternity ago. So much has happened during the past five years. So much. So, when I look at things that way, well “third line of defense” seems like great news. One has to understand five years ago (go ahead and insert that whole eighties sit com flashback garble here) understanding the words “I had cancer” it had so many meanings. I had cancer, I had three little kids, I had a husband, I had my dad and my siblings. How was I going to tell any of these people this news? We had just lost my mom almost exactly one year earlier to cancer. How could I bring this damn thing back into everyone’s lives? It almost feels like two different lives, pre and post.
Five years ago on Nov. 1st – I was told I had cancer, the extent, well that would take until Nov. 15th. I will never forget that day either – the day I was told I had metastatic breast cancer, Stage IV – It couldn’t be cured, only managed, I was just 32. My chance of survival for five years? A whopping 22-25 percent chance. Yep, and let me tell you – I am not a gambler. A quarter or less shot that I would be sitting here right now. It seems impossible. Thank GOD I had such incredible people on my side over the past five years. From an incredible medical team, each nurse and doctor, each technician, receptionist and one extremely special social worker. From the really hard chemo, to the radiation, and eventually to the maintenance infusions, they’ve given me such incredible care, compassion and hope. And that’s just the medical team. My family and friends have rallied again and again. My husband and my best friends – the incredible JP and the amazing Miss K. But – Particularly my dad and my two little brothers, Pat and Joe. They supported me in every way. Whether it was sucking down smoothies and watching the Bears attempt to win a game or whether it was just laying around watching marathons of “River Monsters”. I can just never remember feeling truly alone. What an incredible gift.
Five years, in just five years I lost my dad and brother to cancer. Right in front of my eyes, they disappeared. Unfair, painful deaths as I sit here with my “stage iv diagnosis”. Two of the men that supported me, that fought for me, that picked me up when I felt like I couldn’t go any more – gone.
So the third line – Hell, I am just so grateful that there is a third line, a fourth line, a fifth line, etc…I feel so fortunate to be here. So fortunate, that I was able to ride the majority of my five years out on the same combination of drugs. A combination that statistically should have bought me maybe 2-3 years. But, here I am.
So, tomorrow I will head into Dr. G’s office for my first injection of this “third line” and I will pray that I will get another five years out of this line. I will hope to see my kids in five years at 17,16 and 15 years old. It seems so far away but, each day, each moment I am trying my hardest to drink in, to hope, to see, to love.