While it was over a year ago that I started showing symptoms, it was exactly one year ago today that I received the phone call from Dr. K confirming my biggest fear:
I have cancer.
I’ve uttered that sentence thousands of times since last August and I still can’t seem to believe it. There are moments it seems like a nightmare, like it’s surreal and any moment someone will tell me it has been some cruel joke or that I can wake up now. I know that isn’t going to happen and the truth remains that I do have cancer…
And it has been getting worse.
I am no longer a lab rat, at least not at Mayo Clinic. My last CT scan shows some mild ascities in the upper abdomen, a left pleural effusion and growth in the largest tumor (the one in my liver). I’ve noticed that I am using my narcotics more liberally, there’s been some swelling in my legs and I’m tired often. I definitely feel as if my quality of life is changing and when they told me that I was coming off the trial, I cried. I really hoped that the drug would have worked on my tumors.
Now, it might have. One of the results they were trying to study is would the PEGPH drug change the matrix of the tumor and make it more susceptible to chemo. This is what we start testing this week back with Dr. Brooks. I will be going back on the cisplatin and gemzar (I’m so not excited about this) and we’ll be doing doses of that while exploring other options: like specialists around the country and maybe I can finally convince them of some surgery. I’ve been insanely uncomfortable with the pressure in my abdomen; I can’t imagine not doing something.
I reflect back on the last year and it has been…so strange. Everything before cancer feels like a hundred years and another person ago. Milo will caress my stomach when I’m in pain and I’ll have the fleeting thought of, “But he’s supposed to do that when I’m pregnant, not growing tumors.” But trying to conceive babies and planning trips, that seems like another couple so long ago. Was it really just about a year ago that we were doing those things? Was I really a soccer player then? Was it really just a few months ago that I was working twelve hour shifts as a nurse?
So, for someone statistics said shouldn’t have lasted this long, I say Ha! I am going to keep pushing through as best I can, I don’t know how to do anything else just yet. Even on the really horrible days, when I want nothing more than for this to end so I can stop suffering, I can’t seem to give up. Deep down, I am not ready and have not accepted death. Until then, I press on and pray for a miracle.