Yes, Vomiting on Yourself Is Totally Worth it if Cancer Dies

There got to be a point during my cancer treatment when, in the grand scheme of horrible side effects, vomiting on myself didn't seem so bad. Maybe it was the first time the chemo drugs burned through my veins and I got life-threatening blood clots. Maybe it was when I fainted in my dining room, or when I realized that bicycling three blocks made me feel like I'd just run a marathon--which made me wonder if I'd ever run again. Yet, since last August when I began the first of my six rounds of chemotherapy I've been telling myself that if the treatment killed my triple negative breast cancer, all the side effects would be worth it. Ten years from now, the misery would be nothing but a faint memory--if chemo killed the cancer before the cancer killed me.

I told myself this last Friday while I waited to have surgery to remove the tissue where the lump was and the few lymph nodes that were positive for cancer cells back in July.

I reminded myself of this as I took two Vicodin pills this afternoon. I don't like how the Vicodin makes me feel, but the awful, sharp stabbing pains in my right breast and underarm where the tissue and lymph nodes had been removed were getting to me.

As I dozed on the couch, one of my doctors unexpectedly phoned. She had my test results in front of her and she was so happy she had to call me. My body has had a "complete pathological response to chemotherapy"--which means that those horrific infusions of carboplatin and taxotere did what they were supposed to do. There are no traces of cancer cells in my lymph nodes or in the breast tissue that was removed.

I was kinda like Oprah when I was on the phone with the doctor. I cried, but I managed to hold it together as I listened to her talk. The minute I hung up...well, I hugged my sister and my 13-year-old son and bawled like a baby.

I have drawn on my eyebrows and worn wigs and smiled when people asked me how I'm doing. I realized that no one wants to hear someone reply, "Actually, I'm not doing so hot and I kinda feel like passing out under a table."

At the end of most days I have collapsed the minute I got home from work. I've been in such terrible physical shape that I have often worried that I wouldn't wake up alive when my alarm clock went off in the morning.

The numbness in my fingers has made typing feel like I'm being stabbed with tiny needles. I have seemingly endless hot flashes because chemo drugs put you into menopause. My body is a swollen mess because of the steroids I have had to ingest to keep the chemotherapy infusions from killing me. A month after the end of chemotherapy, the side effects are hanging in there. I've been so worried that the doctors would say sorry, we didn't get all the cancer, you're going to have to do more chemotherapy or more surgery. They didn't say that. 

To make sure that the cancer doesn't come back I still have six weeks of DAILY radiation to look forward to. (I wish I could preemptively slap every single person who has never had cancer who thinks they should tell me that daily radiation is no big deal.) I'll have to wear a medical alert bracelet for the rest of my life on my right arm since due to my lymph nodes being removed, I'm at risk for a horrible condition called lymphedema. That's no fun. But it's worth it. I don't have cancer anymore.



pumpkiny said…
Oh! Tears of joy for you and your family! Big love and strength for radiation and the days ahead.
Mandy Needham said…
OMG Liz! I've followed your journey every (published) step of the way and am beyond thrilled! - YOU DON'T HAVE CANCER ANYMORE!!

Let's celebrate the fact, that we've seen the back, of another black day!

Mandy x
This is the Greatest news ever! I love you so much now let's celebrate!
Lane said…
Congratulations! I've been sending good thoughts your way every time I hear a Depeche Mode song :)
Aisha said…
Yeah!!! So happy to hear this. I hope you feel 100% as soon as possible.
Erin said…
That's great news. The fight is so hard, but if it means you get to stick very well worth it.
Tonia said…
I thought about how you were doing recently. This news is beyond fantastic! I am so happy for you and your boys!
Donna said…
I am so happy and relieved for you.
So happy for you! May God continue to bless you.
Tamara said…
So happy for you and very thankful that you've shared this journey with us. Every blessing to you and your family!!!
Lisa Blah Blah said…
WOW! So, so happy to read this! Radiation sucks, no lie. Can't sugarcoat it. But keep your eye on that calendar and know it will be over and you can really start to recuperate and feel better. So happy for you! Much love from my little (long-quiet, unfortunately) corner of the Internet! xoxo
Superha said…
Awesome! Praying for you.
I'm so happy for you and your family! I know you will make it through the next stage of this journey strong in your spirit and ready for your body to heal. Thanks for the update!
BlackLiterature said…
Wonderful news. My Dad had his radiation and surgery 12 years ago and I am so so so thankful. Thank you for sharing. I will continue to pray for you and your family and put whatever good energy I can out into the universe.

Popular Posts