Tears and Cheers: Today Was My Last Day Being Treated For Breast Cancer
Nine months ago my doctor called me and the first thing she did after quickly dispensing with the usual hello, how are you? pleasantries was ask if I was in the car driving. I knew in that instant that she was going to tell me that the lump I'd found in my breast was cancer. And so began the long journey of trying to kill triple negative breast cancer before it killed me.
Today, with one last blast of radiation from that massive machine you see in the photo above, the cancer treatment journey that I embarked on in August 2014 is officially over. You see me cheesing with my graduation diploma, but happiness is not the right word for what I'm feeling. It's like this:
AND A GOOD DOSE OF THIS TOO
Sigh, if I take my wig off, he still has more hair than me.
But forget my hair, I am having a hard time emotionally processing all that I've been through.
Six rounds of chemotherapy: One infusion of poison every three weeks. That hole of hell lasted from August-December.
Surgery: A lumpectomy and lymph node removal. PAIN. January was not very fun.
Radiation: Every week day for seven weeks. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. Vomiting on myself in the car after my appointment because of the nausea, severe headaches where I felt like I was being stabbed, serious fatigue, blurry vision, and pain like crazy. This is what it looked like two weeks ago. It's definitely more charred now. It hurts.
It's going to take awhile for me to feel "normal" again. Sadly, no magic wand got wafted over me that will enable me to run a mile in the morning. But perhaps the nadir of health is past me. Other than checkup appointments that I'll have in a couple of weeks to make sure my skin is healing properly, and then ongoing monitoring, I am in the clear.
It feels really good to type those words.
I cried today thinking about kindness and love. Kindness from all the many friends who have called, visited, texted, emailed, sent presents, and hugged me. Love from those who have taken the time to worry over me and encourage me take care of myself, even when they have so much going on in their own lives.
I cried because THANK YOU GOD that I don't have to spend eons in the car driving to Santa Monica every weekday for radiation treatment. (A good day was an hour drive one-way.)
There are also tears for so many women who have had breast cancer and did not have such a positive outcome. Not because they weren't fighters. Not because God didn't have a plan for them. Nope, it's because cancer motherf#&#)%^ sucks.
Can we PLEASE stop blaming women who do not survive cancer for succumbing to the disease? Seriously, I did not win a battle with cancer and those other women are not losers if they died. I know I was lucky to have some brilliant doctors at UCLA and my response to treatment was maybe a little miraculous. But it could have gone the other way. While my two sons kept hugging me today, their sweetness made me think about all the other women whose children will not get to hug them.
And I'm tired. I'm so tired I feel emotionally dead most of the time. I mean, Martin Gore of Depeche Mode released a solo record a couple of weeks ago and I was kinda like, IDGAF, if he can't make the pain I'm in stop, WHO CARES?
So here I am at the end of doctor interventions, still ready to punch anyone in the face who tells me that the Medical Industrial Complex probably injected cancer into me and then used their drugs on me to cure it—all so "they" could make money. Please. I'm not here for it.
I AM ALIVE BECAUSE OF SCIENCE.
By all means, do your homework and read up on treatments, but I have zero patience for anyone who tells cancer patients to go sniff hemp oil instead of actually being treated with medical interventions that can work.
Now I have to figure out how do I take care of myself so that this disease doesn't come back. There are no guarantees. I could down juiced kale non-stop and it could still come back. It will be a challenge to keep fear and worry from eating up my soul.
And finally, it's an incomplete phrase for what I feel for all of you who have loved me and wished me well from the virtual world, but thank you. I'm glad to still be here alongside you on planet earth, as we all do our best to be of service.