“Doesn’t your body know you’re done? Can’t it just be back to normal?” Tara and I mulled over how wonderful this would be as I laid on the couch following my nap. To just snap my fingers and be normal me again. Week 24 of chemo, week 12 of Taxol: done. Only it’s not the end I hoped for.
I know everyone wants me to be excited and to celebrate but I honestly don’t feel it at all. (Although I loved the congratulations card Tina gave me from my Goddaughters, including the Thanksgiving picture eight-year-old Nadia drew me that said “p.s. One thing I am thankful for is that you don’t have Taxol!”)
My body aches more than ever, the tingling and numbness in my feet and fingers has steadily increased and now I have phlebitis in my right arm. So in addition to starting radiation, I am heading back to physical therapy, too. Doesn’t seem like an end to me. I really wish I could be happy, but I’m not.
I did, though, appreciate how the nurse practitioner put it to me today. She said, “It’s just like you’re in a triathlon. You’ve made it through two huge parts: the surgery and the chemo. Now for the third part: radiation.” I liked the sound of that, but also can’t help thinking that it’s even more than that – then there is the implant surgery, which now won’t be until summer, then the two follow-up procedures to that, which brings us near the end of 2013. Then the five years of tamoxifen. As I said last time, it’s the never-ending saga. I need to just suck it up, accept it and stop whining about it – I’m getting sick of myself! And I will, I just have to get back on my feet and then I will start to feel better.
I think I just keep feeling like every time I take two steps forward, it’s followed by one step back. Like the pain that’s been growing in my arm the last couple weeks today turns out to be phlebitis and so I now need to add PT back into my regimen. At least it’s coinciding with being able to take ibuprofen again, now that the chemo is over! And then I was excited because I signed up for the Jingle Bell Run in mid-December thinking ‘Of course I can be running again a month after chemo!’ I didn’t realize how bad my feet and legs would get – and today the nurse said it probably won’t go away for a month, maybe more. So yet another race I paid for but won’t be able to run. (Note to self: no more signing up for races until I am actually fully back to running!!!)
I know I need to give my body time to rest and heal. I just get so impatient with it and simply want to be normal again. And look half as good as Giuliana Rancic.
Giuliana and Bill were on Katie today, as I was dozing on the couch. My ears perked up as I heard them start to talk about her breast cancer. I knew she had, like me, a double mastectomy. But, even though they said she had an aggressive form of breast cancer, instead of chemo and radiation she opted to go straight to the five years of tamoxifen. I don’t get it: why and how??? That certainly wasn’t presented to me, I thought as I looked at her beaming at me from the TV, looking so beautiful with her long dark hair. (Yes, that is jealousy you sense.) I just don’t get it – how can you go through that major surgery and not do the other things to lessen your chance of recurrence? I know it’s a personal choice, but I guess I never felt like there was really much of a ‘choice’ at all.
Jealousy will get you nowhere – and it’s not like I lost my hair so Giuliana could keep hers. And hey, my hair is starting to grow back – it almost covers my head, so soon I won’t look like a middle-age balding man anymore. The aches, pains, numbness and tingling will go away. I will be able to run again. I will lose all the weight I gained. Yes, radiation will have its own challenges, but they will be less than the chemo. If I made it through 24 weeks of that, I can make it through 25 sessions of this. And then I’ll be that much closer to the finish line… and maybe then I’ll feel like celebrating.
Update, 9 a.m., Nov. 21: It’s amazing what a good night’s sleep can do! I woke up with a new perspective and felt the need to update this post. As I just posted on Facebook, “Today I am thankful for mornings where you wake up with a new perspective! I feel better – more energized, determined and like my old self. Crappy cancer can’t change me!”