Life with cancer doesn't move in a linear motion. There are ups and downs and steps taken backward and huge leaps forward. From day to day, it is hard to know what to expect.
14 months into this journey, with hopefully only two more months of active treatment, I should be excited, living with expectation for my future. But I've found myself battling depression. I'm lonely, but find myself struggling to reach out. I'm out of shape but continue to face obstacles, both emotional and physical, in trying to address this issue. I hate looking in the mirror- I don't recognize the person I see. I feel a real disconnect from the world and the people around me.
I've tired of writing. I've wanted to give up. But when I reach those low points, something always seems to happen that reminds me why I am writing about my battle with breast cancer.
When I was regularly getting IV chemo, there was a man at the check in desk that I saw at almost all of my appointments. He would recognize me and I wouldn't even have to give my name when I checked in. But since then, another person has started working at the desk. She is incredibly friendly, but since she doesn't see me as often, I wasn't sure if she knew who I was (after all, they must see hundreds of patients every week).
A few weeks ago I had an appointment. I smiled and said hello to Amy*. I proceeded to give her my last name, so she could look up my account. Then she asked me if I wanted to hear something weird, and since it was right after I'd given her my last name, I assumed she was going to tell me how she knew someone with the same last name. But instead she said,
I was on the NYOH (my treatment center) Facebook page last night, looking for people I recognized. I saw you and clicked on your profile. I ended up finding your blog and reading the whole thing. It was wonderful getting a different perspective. You should write a book.
I was blown away. Here is a woman who sees countless cancer patients, day in and day out, and yet she was thanking me for giving her a different perspective on the cancer journey. I felt so blessed that my little story had reached her.
Another day I received this message on Instagram (I was given permission to post this):
Hi Stephanie! I have been meaning to message you for a long time. I was diagnosed with stage 2 TNBC in my mid 30s. We have so many similarities that your blog (probably intended for friends and family), has provided so much info, guidance, therapy and support to me. I’m also a Christian, my tumor was on my left side with one lymph node affected, I did AC, then taxol but switched to abraxane [and] I have to start Xeloda soon. I’m writing to thank you because you say everything that I’m thinking and all the fears, frustrations, hopes and everything else.
[Your blog] has been such therapy for me and a guide during such scary times with all the ups and downs and at times shattered dreams ... I would love to learn more from you! I know you didn’t expect to help strangers as far as CA but you have! Thanks for writing everything I’ve been thinking.
Wow. I was speechless. This journey is never one I asked to go on and it is not one I would have ever thought I could manage. And yet God ... God has provided me everything I've needed. God has seen me through my worst moments. God has used this year to grow me. God has used my story to help other people. God. I do not know how I would have made it this far without Him.
So while I have found myself in a fog lately, I know I am not alone. Sometimes I just need God to give me a little reminder.
This process has been difficult. It has been life changing. It has been long. And it isn't over. My life is permanently altered ... my future includes regular tests and monitoring that others may never experience. My body is scarred. My journey to become a mother won't follow the most traditional route. There are so many ways my life has forever been changed. But I believe this is all part of my story. As someone who dreams of writing a book, I have amazing respect for authors. And while this may sound completely cheesy, God is the original (and best and most creative) storyteller. He is writing my story. How can I not find hope and joy in that?
This song has been on repeat in my head. I pray that it is an encouragement to you, wherever you are in your story.
Updates and Prayer Requests:
I met with my oncologist on September 27th. For the second time in a row, my HGB was up! I am now at 13.7 and the normal range is 12-16! I was only at 8.5 back in August, so this is fantastic news!
As my blood counts are looking better and my energy is up from the iron infusions, my oncologist chose to increase my dosage of Xeloda. This past week I started on 1,500 mg in the AM and 1,000 in the PM. I definitely noticed an increase in side effects but the goal is still to get me up to the ideal dosage of 3,000 mg/day.
My white blood cell count was down last appointment and I am definitely feeling nervous about the cold season. Please pray I stay healthy.
I will start cycle eight of Xeloda Sunday, October 13th.
My next appointment with my oncologist is October 21st.
My fourth wedding anniversary is October 23rd!
My six month follow up mammogram is Friday, November 1st.
October is shaping up to be a busy month but it also happens to be my favorite! I hope you all are having a wonderful autumn.
All my love,
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