Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Never the less.....

“Persistence”.  I’ve been called (or told I possess) many endearing and formidable characteristics over this past 5 months: brave, courageous, noble, strong, powerful, warrior (my wife’s favorite). To each I am humbled.  But the one characteristic I believe says the most about those who fight cancer is persistent. 

If you don’t have persistence, you don’t get yourself out of bed every morning even though you know your day will be for shit, your body will feel like crap. If you don’t have persistence and no matter what the other side of your brain tells you, you won’t garner the courage to face yet another round of chemotherapy. If you don’t have persistence, you can’t – no matter how you feel about yourself personally or professionally – get up for work, walk the dog, and carry on with the rest of the healthy and functioning world. If you don’t have persistence, you aren’t able to face down your boogeymen – whether they be your fears of re-occurrence in the middle of the night or your fears of becoming a "pre-existing condition" statistic in the middle of the day. Every day in this fight, I have gained, garnered, nurtured, used, and cherished persistence.  I know it has buoyed me throughout my chemotherapy, it will play a crucial role during my surgery and recovery, and it will serve me well as I move into the next phase of my life. Lovingly called my “Option B”.

In other news…..as you may recall, a few weeks ago, I talked a lot about peripheral neuropathy – the numbness of one’s fingers and toes And you may also recall, I starting to develop tingling and now numbness in my fingers a few weeks back. Well, it seems that news has my oncologist concerned. Concerned enough that she decreased the amount of my Taxol by 25%.  Peripheral neuropathy is a known possible side effect of Taxol. Her concern is the numbness that I’m now experiencing (which can worsen up to six months post chemotherapy) may be permanent. She doesn’t seem to be concerned, however,  that in lowering the dosage of Taxol the drug may not do its job of killing cancer cells.  Ugh. Weighing the wonderful options…..It’s hard to button my shirts, tie my shoes, I have no sense of hot and cold on my finger tips and I’m betting I lose my right big toenail before this dance is all over.

I’ve had my follow-up with the cardiologist last week. My heart remains strong and healthy. And we’ve started the process of scheduling my surgery. My oncologist is OK with a surgery time frame that is 3-4 weeks out from my chemo treatment. Enough time for my body and my blood counts to get back to “normal”. So we are aiming for the last week in July or first week in August. Because nothing can be easy in this fight, we must coordinate two surgeons’ schedules. One will cut off my boobs, remove any remaining cancer (god-forbid) and biopsy my sentinel node (more on all that later), and one to put me back together all nice and tidy.  Complicated to be sure. In any event, I was hoping to walk out of my surgeon’s office today with a date, dang it. What’s that about cancer teaching patience?

I never considered myself a persistent person. I am a calm and nice person. Easy-going. Quiet, confident (most times), friendly, intelligent, likeable, perhaps even funny at times. But not necessarily “persistent”.  Cancer has given me “persistent” to add to my repertoire. I will be forever persistent in getting what I need, in saying how I feel, and in facing my demons.

What is that saying: “Never the less, SHE persisted”. Three more chemo treatments to go!

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