From one moment to the next, your entire world can change.
In early October of 2012, I spent my lunch one day laughing and talking with friends and co-workers, with nothing more than the every day cares of a wife and mother on my mind. As I came back from that lunch, I became short of breath - and my whole life changed.
That was the beginning of my diagnosis - that moment when I realized how short of breath I was, and knowing that I shouldn't be. It led to me googling ovarian cancer symptoms, then making an appointment with an ob/gyn that was able to start the diagnosis process. Just like that - I stopped being just a normal, slightly overweight forty-something, and became an ovarian cancer patient.
It's been a crazy couple of years. I mentioned last time I wrote that my new oncologist was switching chemo drugs since the taxol had quit working. I had two rounds of topotecan, and my CA-125 kept rising. So last week, she switched me to gemzar with avastin and we once again started knocking on wood and desperately pleading with God to just let this one work. Please. (Ok - that was just me desperately pleading)
This morning, I was told that my white blood count was way too low to do chemo. The plan was 3 weeks on with gemzar, then one week off. Being told this morning that I couldn't even do a second dose devastated me. I felt like my body had decided to take cancer's side - like it wouldn't even help me to save my own life. It's silly, I know, but it's weird how after a certain amount of time you start to think of your cancer as a cognizant entity, separate from yourself. You give it its own identity - evil of course. Because only something evil could put you through so much pain and fear.
The truth is, cancer is just mutating cells, with no mind of their own. They divide and multiply because that is what they do. They aren't actively trying to kill you specifically - they just multiply over and over again because...well...they don't know how to do anything else. Our job is to find some way to stop the cells from replicating, and to kill them out.
It's scary to realize that you may not be able to tolerate the drugs that can save you - the drugs that might get your cancer under control, or eliminate it completely. I had a major melt down this morning, completely unable to control my tears, sobbing to my husband asking why? Why is this happening? I try so hard to be a good person - to say my prayers, to be kind, to not cause anyone pain, to be fair, to be an example of how a woman of faith handles this type of diagnosis - with grace, and dignity and without bitterness. I'm not perfect. But I try - I really do try. I have a good heart. So why is drug after drug put beyond my reach? Why is my body betraying me? Doesn't it want to LIVE?
I do. I want to live. I *want* to be a warrior. A warrior queen, fighting off the evil cancer from my body. I may no longer be able to pull off a Xena outfit. And I can't do that if my own body won't tolerate the treatment. In a moment this morning, my whole world view changed, and I felt like I was facing my own mortality for real.
Scary shit, my friends. Scary shit.
Once I was settled down, and we were able to get my fluid drained off (had a minor blockage when trying to do it last night, so we had to do it at the cancer center), the hubs and I left the cancer center, and after running a couple of errands (ok - he ran them. Due to my low numbers, I was forbidden from leaving the car), we headed home. While he was running errands, I posted a plea on Facebook - asking for prayers from the prayer warriors, and positive energy from everyone else that my white cells would rebound so I could have treatment. My awesome friends responded. And I started trying to think of how we would keep fighting - would it be a new chemo? Should we start looking ahead to going back to MD Anderson? I got myself back into fighter mode.
I have never been much of a victim.
Thirty minutes later, on our way home, the cancer center called and told us to come back. My oncologist had decided that I was to have shots to boost my blood marrow into making more white cells today, and for the following four days. So I can have treatment next Friday.
Another answered prayer. Another moment where my world changed in an instant. From the depths of despair (or at least on the second flight of steps down) to the return of hope. Hope that I will be able to have this chemo drug - maybe not 3 weeks in a row. Maybe every other week. Maybe with the shots I can have it two weeks on, two weeks off. Hope that I can still fight this horrible disease.
A return of faith.
(The last two times I've drained, the amount has gone down. That would point to the gemzar working. I won't have my CA-125 run again until September, but I'm hopeful that it might go down at last. It's nice to have hope. It's nice to have good news again.)