Thursday, July 28, 2011

Worry, and Panic, and Fear, Oh My!

I was waiting for a bus last night after having dinner with friends. As the cars drove by, I thought to myself 'If a car were to run off the road and hit me, all of my hard word since March will have been for nothing and will be wasted on a car accident.' That thought led to another; I wondered if my life's ending was predetermined. Will I die at 45? Is cancer at a young age a recipe for an early death? I'm not afraid of dying due to this cancer diagnosis but now that I've had cancer I have an increased chance of getting it again. I'm worried that next time it won't be detected as early, next time the lump will be more internal than my breast, next time it will be cancer of the blood or the brain or the lungs. Once I hit 30 will I wonder if I'll see 40? If I am able to have children after my ovaries take this beating from the chemo, will my kids be motherless before their tenth birthdays? Will Keith be a widower before he's 50?

On weeks that are not filled with nausea, vomiting, anxiety and needles, I seem to over think the future. I've said this a number of times, 'Tomorrow I could get hit by a bus...'. But if I don't, the odds are great that my cause of death will be cancer, it's just a matter of when and what kind.

I'm not trying to be a downer, I just never realized the worry, the never ending fear, and the continual questions that one has once they've been diagnosed.

I have a new found respect for Jack Layton, not as a leader but as a cancer survivor. The horror of a second diagnosis must be immense and potentially worse than the first. The first time you hear 'you have cancer' the fear of the unknown is what is so overwhelmingly unmanageable but hearing it for the second time, you unfortunately know exactly what to expect.

I'm assuming that my obsession with cancer will lessen and at 26, as I prepare for my fourth (and what was supposed to be final until test results showed the aggressiveness of the cancer and it got changed to six) treatment tomorrow, it's hard to imagine my life as a retiree or grandmother or the recipient of the senior's discount.

I can't stop living because I'm nervous about dying. Cancer isn't the death sentence that it used to be either. I've heard so many stories of hope and determination, stories of survival and strength. But, sometimes I get so overwhelmed with stats, facts and suffering that the thought of losing this fight is consuming.

As I said, tomorrow is treatment #4 and I spend today trying to mentally prepare myself. We went shopping today for water and Gatorade so I can try to flush out the chemo as quickly as possible. Yesterday, I saw my oncologist who said that Taxotere (the name of the chemo cocktail that will be administered for treatments 4-6) is easier than the first 3 treatments (called FEC) when it comes to nausea. The new side effects include, water retention, increased chance of an allergic reaction to the drug, thrush and mouth sores, a chance of nausea and vomiting, your finger and toe nails can crack down the center, bone pain (like arthritis in my knees isn't enough), numbness in your fingers and toes, fatigue, hair loss (too late), diarrhea, and the list goes on and on...

I am in good spirits. I don't consume myself with the thought of dying and the 'when' too much but sometimes when those thoughts start, I find them hard to stop. Your mind is a powerful thing. I'm writing this entry because I'm not sure of the next time I'll be able to write. I'm also not trying to 'freak' anyone out by writing these thoughts either. If I've learned one thing about having cancer, it's that if I've had these thoughts, others have had these thoughts and being validated for how I feel, for me anyway, has been extremely satisfying.

Good luck to all of you who are currently going through treatment.

P.S. I got my last saline injection into my expander. So 'YEAH!' for no more needles in the chest and "YEAH!" for kind of having a breast again. I go for surgery in January to get my expander switched for my implant. I did it!

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