'twas the night before chemo
Hmmm... the lyricism stops there, really. There are lots of creatures stirring, (though hopefully no mice), as I flit about readying myself for my first chemo treatment tomorrow and Shea is banging and crashing around prepping for a winter ski trip with mates. I can even hear my Mum's electric toothbrush buzzing away downstairs as she completes her nightly ablutions.
My children are, happily, snug in their beds.
Anyway, a quick update of some hard facts and then some happy observations:
Hard fact # 1: I'm now home in Whitehorse after my two weeks convalescing in Vancouver. Toward the end of my stay there, I really felt I'd turned a corner as my right arm became more usable and my left arm gradually felt less limited.
Hard fact # 2: My pathology came back and while the surgery obtained 'clear margins,' (cancer talk for them getting all the cancer and then some surrounding cancer-free tissue which means no more surgery), there were actually three lumps in there AND a whole lot of pre-cancerous cells AND it had spread to two of the five lymph nodes that they removed. This means that...
Hard fact # 3: I will have 8 rounds of chemo. The first four, at two week intervals, the next four at three week intervals and then I have an additional intravenous special drug called Herceptin, every three weeks for a year; all administered here in the Yukon. Thank goodness.
Hard fact # 4: I will have to have radiation (sometime in the Fall) likely for six weeks; all administered in Vancouver. This sucks.
Hard fact # 5: Cancer makes me fight more with my Mountain Man over much smaller things.
Happy Observation # 1: I adore my Mountain Man more than ever. He's welcomed the new breast into the family with acceptance and love. He doesn't make me feel self-conscious, but revels in all my body is and all it will be. Even if the non-cancer breast ends up down to my navel and the new one remains as perky as a teenager's. The other night, as I lay on my back reading in bed, I observed how the non-cancer lady likes to sag comfortably down into my armpit somewhere. The new lady, we've dubbed her Sheila, was still perkily pointing at the ceiling. Mountain Man barely looked up from his reading as he responded, "Oh yeah?" and lazily rest his hand on my belly. He's not phased. And for this, among many other things, I love him from deep in that same belly.
Happy observation # 2: Our kids are doing well with all this. Their teachers have commented that though they've needed a bit more attention (notably, more snuggles for Lox), they're very matter of fact about it all. One friend told me that she wanted to ask Laide about Brownies (of the Girl Guide variety) and began,
"Has your Mum talked to you about -"
and before she could finish the question, Laide jumped in with,
"Cancer? Yup, she's talked to me about it already."
It threw our friend for a loop, but she commented that Adelaide seemed very comfortable with the subject matter.
Happy observation # 3: I'm back skiing! I think my plastic surgeon got sick of me asking about it as every time I quizzed her, "when do you think I might get back to cross country skiing?" the timeline reduced. From six weeks, to four, until finally at my two week check-up she told me,
"Go now. You won't have the same stamina but you won't break."
And so I haven't. And the alone time and being in the trails of Whitehorse wilderness and the movement of my body have brought me euphoria.
Happy observation # 4: My house is filled with flowers! From friends and students and family. There's almost no space for the flowers.
Happy observation # 5: I realized today that I can put my jackets and cardigans on without flinching and contorting my body around the tightening in my left
armpit. The removal of those lymph nodes has given me more grief than the whole breast-work. But it seems that we're making ground.
Just in time for chemo tomorrow. Oh me. I hope to get out for a ski afterward and find some balance in my new normal. Wish me luck!