Life Outside Cancer

Dr. K and Dr. Brooks decided I should go in for a colonoscopy to be certain that my cancer hadn’t started in my colon, though neither felt it had.  I wasn’t about to say no; all I wanted was answers and to start treatment.  The sooner, the better. Sooner happened to be the 12th  (at least for the colonoscopy part.)

I wasn’t really nervous about the colonoscopy; it’s pretty much the same as an EGD except for the location the camera is visiting (and as Milo points out, hopefully a different camera too.)  Since I knew what I was in for and how the drugs would work –for the record big meals after propofol will make you vomit—I knew that this was something I was going to make it through just fine.  I didn’t expect negative results either, so I was fairly relaxed.  When I woke from the propofol dreams with a stuffed monkey tucked in my bed (from my parents), , there was a note from Dr. K that said “Colonoscopy is normal!!!!” (Yes, there were four exclamation points; he was that excited.)  So, no colon cancer.

That afternoon, Dr. Hutchison called to tell me that we weren’t going to do an egg harvest.  I was seriously surprised and disappointed.  Alice had told me it was all set up for September 13th.  I was planning to start chemo after that, secure in the knowledge that there would be baby Milo and Janines waiting.  Apparently, Dr. Brooks had other plans in mind for me.  He was concerned that waiting a month would be a detriment to my treatment.  I suppose he was right; after all, it’s not as if we knew how quickly this thing was growing.  The new plan was an injection called Lupron.  It is normally used to force a woman onto the reproductive cycle that works best for the fertility specialist when he wants to do a harvest.  We were going to use it to put my ovaries into a hibernation period of three months, cut down the blood supply to them and render me cycle-less.  This, he said, worked with other women to protect their ovaries from the chemo.  I decided to trust him; I had no choice.

For the first time, I felt like things were moving forward.  I finally felt like I had some semblance of control back in the situation.  The hardest part of a disease like cancer, for someone like me, is that the control is stripped away.  Doctors make decisions for you, though they are kind enough to make you feel as if you made the decision yourself.  I was taking my life back one step at a time.

Then, I got another surprise.  While lying around cuddling with Milo, he made a comment that brought up sex.  I have to admit, since the diagnosis I hadn’t really thought much about it.  I didn’t fee particularly sexy, I was occasionally in pain and I simply hadn’t considered it an option.    We weren’t trying to get pregnant anymore and it felt like a step backwards in our relationship for some reason.  I also hadn’t expected Milo to be interested; I was cancer girl now.  Not that I don’t love my husband and that sharing that experience with him isn’t amazing.  It is and I do.  I just hadn’t really felt like it.

He didn’t pressure me; he never would do that, but it did make me realize that there is more to our lives right now than chemo discussions and fertility preservation.  Before all this started, I was someone else.  Someone with plans and dreams for her life.  I wanted a family, to advance my career.  Beyond even that, there is us; a couple that loves each other and is committed to each other.  A couple planning a future outside of chemotherapy and cancer.  There’s more to life, so much more.  It guided me to changing my focus on something beside the thing growing inside me.

My Thoughts That Night (per a journal I was writing in):

I don’t know what’s worse sometimes: the vomiting or the dry heaving.  Maybe it’s the sad look on my husband’s face when I’m doing either.

He doesn’t cry in front of me, but I catch him sometimes with red rings around his eyes and a broken look about him.  Mostly, I miss his smile.  I don’t think he realizes that sometimes I can see it’s faked; the light doesn’t reach his eyes.  He has a beautiful smile.  When I get a flash of a sincere one, I savor it.  I’m certain they’ll be less frequent as we wade deeper into the treacherous cancer waters.

The downside of people knowing I have cancer is that look.  The “you might die cancer girl” look.   They tiptoe around, trying not to ask questions and to appear at ease about the situation.  They’re not; we both know it.  The look is still better than the feigned sympathy though.  It’s amazing the people who are using my disease to ease their own guilt.  I don’t want any regrets, just in case, so I’m doing my best to accept anyone into my life who wants in.  I only hope I don’t end up hurt when all is said and done.

It’s been almost a week and I still don’t quite believe I have cancer.  Denial is an excellent coping mechanism.  I never realized I utilized it until now.


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