Sunday, June 7, 2015

The New Normal

Before I began this journey, I posted a blog back in October that 
featured a bridge over water and light at the end.  I had a prolific dream 
and was not yet aware how profound that dream would turn out to be.

Please bear with me, this will be a long post.  I've been meaning to sit down for a while now and bring many thoughts and emotions into words, but each time I try, I either walk away too overwhelmed or simply cannot find the words.  On May 18th, I had my surgery.  It was a difficult day, filled with emotion and excitement.  My chemo ended on 4/28 and was a surprise, as I was set to receive 12 weeks of  Taxotere treatment, but only received four.  My ultrasound a week prior to chemo ending was clean, with no signs of cancer, but it was the severe side effects from treatment that prompted my Oncologist to end treatment.  I was filled with joy and fear at the same time. Happy to be done, but fearful that it wasn't enough. Then, surgery came.  As I said, it was a day filled with mixed emotions.  We knew going in that the cancer was not visible on the Mammogram or Ultrasound. Therefore, the course of action was to remove a tiny titanium clip where the lump was, some surrounding tissue, and a couple of sentinel lymph nodes.  For those who have not followed my journey, I was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer in January 2015.  We chose an aggressive course of chemotherapy prior to surgery, with the hope that the tumor would shrink.  The thought process was to conserve the breast, but also be certain that the chemo was doing it's job.  Triple negative BC is rare.  Only 10 to 15% of the case of diagnosed BC turn out to be triple negative.  It is aggressive and often quick spreading.   Treatment options are not as widely available as those that are hormone receptive.  I was fearful of the cancer spreading, but I was more fearful of removing the tumor and breasts, and then beginning chemo.  For me, I would never know if the chemo was actually working, and I needed that validation.  I knew that if I started chemo first and could see that it was actually doing what it was designed to do, that I was healing.  Needless to say, we made the right choice; the tumor disappeared and surgery was successful.  We were told we would receive results within a week.  The next day, May 19th, I took to healing and resting.  My doctor called me on the phone and asked me how I was doing?   Sore, but happy, I replied.  "Well, I have some good news for you, Trisha," she said.  "Your tests came back and you are clean and clear of cancer."  Silence. I had to ask her to repeat what she said.  It had only been a day.  I thought I had to wait a week. She repeated and I began to cry.  I thanked her and told her I loved her.  She laughed, and told me to go rest.  I hung up the phone and went into the kitchen where my husband was cleaning up some dishes. I could barely get the words out through the tears.  "Honey, I'm cancer free!"  We hugged and cried. I then ran upstairs to tell my son.  Yes, I ran.  It is amazing the kind of energy one receives from this kind of news.  I felt I could go into the ring with Mike Tyson.  I told my son and we cried.  I then called my parents and we cried.  I cried a lot that day.  My new birthday.

It is now June 7th and beginning next week, I will start radiation treatment for the next 6 weeks. After that, it is follow-up visits with my doctors for the next five years to make sure the cancer does not return.  Five years is the benchmark for cancer patients.  Many see returns of the cancer and many do not.  If the cancer returns, it often does so in other parts of the body.  Obviously, this is a frightening concept for me.  I never expected cancer in the first place.  BC does not run in my family and it hit me out of the blue.  I have other health issues, which I feel may have brought about the cancer, but I've had doctor's poo poo my theories.  I still believe the connection regardless of what they say.  I'm doing my best to remain positive, eat healthy and exercise.  I know this is no guarantee. While I have a wonderful support system, I have found that having had cancer has changed the way I look at cancer in general.  I take cancer very personally now.  Yes, it has changed my life, and in many ways for the good.  I am a much more positive and centered person.  I do not take life for granted.  I appreciate all life and the beauty of each day.  I don't sweat the small stuff.  I have a much deeper connection to the Divine and my Soul purpose on this planet.  However, I do take cancer personally and I shall explain.  It seems that I'm surrounded by cancer everyday.  I have friends who are going through treatment, those who are recently diagnosed, those who are cured and those who who lost the battle.  I have found that I despise the terms fighting and loosing.  It seems to denote weakness on the part of someone who does not beat cancer, as if they gave up somehow.  To me, I never approached the cancer as a fighting situation.  I had many people say, I kicked cancer's ass, or I fought like a warrior.  I even have a shirt that says, fight like a girl, win like a warrior.  But, from day one, I looked at this invader in my body as a teacher.  It was there to teach me something.  I never hated it and I never looked at it with anger.  I did not see myself going to battle.  This may sound odd, but I remember laying in bed last January, with my fingers over the lump in my breast, and having a conversation with the cancer.  It went something like this....

You and I are going to be with each other for awhile.  I don't know you.  You are a stranger to me. I'm not angry that you are here, but I am confused.  I wasn't expecting you.  I know you have something to teach me, so I am hoping that we can get along.  Just understand, that you are not allowed to stay and that after I learn what I need to learn, I want you to go and never come back. While you are here, I will surround you with love, light and healing energy.  I will think of you with this light around you so that you will not go visit any other places in my body.  Are we clear?  

And, this is what I did each night for 5 months.  I also told myself each day that I was strong, in perfect health and cancer free. I asked for help from the Divine and angels. I knew I could not do it alone.  I had two things occur during this time that were very odd.  One evening, early into treatment, I opened my eyes to see a dark object hovering  a few inches to the left of me.  It had spiky arms that extended all around it.  At first, I thought it was a giant spider.  I reached up, moved my hand through it and watched it disappear.  A few weeks later, it happened again, but this time the spiky, black object was all the way on the other side of the room.  It was small and hovered in the corner.  I brushed my hand back and forth and it disappeared once again.  I have never seen it again.  I believe this was the cancer.  This is how I saw it and I was watching it drift away from me.

Recurrence is a very real concern.  Every ache and pain gives me a twinge of nervousness.  It can't be helped.  I'm living with the new normal, as a friend of mine told me.  I just discovered an online friend is now facing cancer for the third time.  I discovered her early into my treatment after she had been a year cancer free from the second go around.  Her strength gave me strength and hope.  She still gives me strength and hope.  If anyone can get through this, she can.  She has my heart.

People say that time heals all wounds.  I don't believe it ever makes anything go away, it just changes our perspective over time.  To me, cancer will always be a part of me.  It's like an addiction that you overcome, but is still with you.  I don't know if that makes sense, but I've learned to live life one day at a time.  I've learned to place my feet on the floor each morning and say, thank you.  I am grateful for this life.  I am grateful for the blessings of each day. What matters is what we hold close to our hearts, everything else is just illusion.    Be well, my dear friends.  Be good to each other.  Life is very short.  Don't fill it up with illusions of what you should be, what has to get done,  or what you have no control over.  Just be present, breathe and love yourself and those around you.

The light at the end is our creation.