Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Playing the Fives
Every cancer patient loves the number 5. After five years our rate of reoccurance or metastasis is greatly reduced - like by nearly 90%. It's a magic number. It's one we wrap our entire treatment around. It's woobie. It just is. So naturally I am excited. I am almost at three and upon talking to the Dr this week about treatment plans (NONE!) and follow ups (every 3-6 months!) and I dropped my excitement on her. Not sure what you mean by 5 years she says...what do you mean? Of course you know - at 5 years, my rate of reoccurance and worry tanks, right? OH, she says, you are speaking about other cancers such as colon and liver and some breast - but not yours. huh? Started getting dizzy after that - most oncologists lose their train of focus following "what the fuck does that mean?" So here it is - I am hormone positive breast cancer - also known as Her2nu+. It affects nearly 20% of breast cancer patients. In laymens' terms, it means cancer on steroids. It uses its own blood supply to survive so it doesn't need me, it doesn't want me, it really just decides what it wants to do and does it. All I could hear realy was no five year celebration. In fact, my rate of reoccurance elevates at 5 years to 10. Why? I stopped listening. I was pulling away from the tunnel vision that started. Of course, she says, she can offer a pet scan. "it can find cancer cells...but to be honest, we don't do anything really different as there is no cure for metastatic breast cancer but at least you will know"...yes, I will know. But do I want to know? That really is the biggest question. So what would I do different? Eat Vegan? Eat Taco Bell? Move - where? Be nicer to my mother, adopt a few cats...seriously, why would I do anything different knowing my forehead has an expiration date on it...or do we find out if I have six months to live - that's always fun. We can do the Make a Wish Foundation trip to Disney and Justin Beiber can sing me a love song by my bed; maybe Channing Tatum can take me to the prom. I am making light of this but hell yes, it was a blow. NO ONE deserves to know they may or may not die at anytime from cancer and please...before I get the "no one really knows" lecture...stop yourself. This is different in a way you can't imagine. A truck can hit me and it's over - no thinking, no pain. But when you have gone to battle for nearly three years, given up everything you can think of including the mother and wife your family needed only to have it taunt you at every corner, every test, every medical visit and then maybe you just die anyway? Yeah - so please... So while I intend to make a bucket list - because let's face it, we should all have one, I haven't decided if knowing is better or not. Every cramp or twitch or burn I feel I do wonder...Most of us think headache, I think brain cancer. Knowing means I won't change anything - my kids will still know I have major crushes on them and my husband will always know he is the first and greatest love of my life but will I tell them more? MORE...if I tell them more, someone's calling the police. I already tell them a lot - like stalker style. I am very angry, I am sad and I am scared to death. I do not want to die. I can't even think about my kids or my husband facing this home and our life without me. It's not what I signed up for and it's not in my plan. Joseph will be fine because he is that kind of man but he will be broken, my older girls need me, my two little ones will barely remember me. So yes, that's a lot of pressure to give cancer. I don't know that I would have fought any differently - I went toe to toe with cancer and feel like I won but like those old scary movies I have talked about - just when you think they are dead, the bathtub comes splashing up and there it is, holding a knife. So I am going to live in 5s myself. 5 will be my new lucky number. If cancer won't give me 5, I will. I'm bringing 5 back - it's a magic number because I say it is and if I say I want a scan because Joseph wants to know or I do, I will do it on the 5th. Just because.