The Good Things
I love reading the comments that people write on my blogs - for me writing is a brain dump. Often I feel the need to dump when something is playing on my mind - usually these are the more difficult things to nut out. I less frequently feel the need to brain dump about the good stuff. It came to me though, as I read your comments that perhaps you see a skewed version of me. That's ok. I feel it is greatly important to share the downs and the ups of living with advanced BC, the realities of it because I spend so much energy of staying UP!
But there are so many good things in my life. I feel I am one of the lucky ones. I still have very few symptoms. I have no pain that regular panadol can't fix (it is all treatment related not cancer related). I tolerate my treatments with remarkably few side effects - the main one being fatigue but not the type that keeps me in bed every day - I just don't have the energy that I used to have and which is normal for a 40 year old woman. While cancer dominates my life - this can be a good thing too. It informs the way you live. You get annoyed with a tantrum or an incident and you think - well I could be dead tomorrow - what is true to me - how do I leave this?
I have learned so much about myself. I am learning about my amazing inner self - my intuition, my inner voice - this may sound a little woowoo for some but it is true for me.
I actually have not given up hope that I could get better - there is a little voice that laughs at that (the one that reads the drs reports and my history) but the louder voice is there too - it IS possible. I avidly research treatments, I jump onto trying something new when the other thing stops working- I hope without abandon it will work (and feel the letdown totally when it hasn't). I am not a stupid woman. I am very well educated - I have worked in the health sector, I have worked in marketing. I understand statistics (though that was something I was never good at either at school or uni) - I know the "odds" - but I am an individual. I also know that the statistics are based on old information, not taking into account current therapies. I also understand the tyranny of the median. Beyond the understanding of statistics, I also know that medicine is not infallible. I know that there are many other modalities, complementary therapies, unknowns that can play a role in a person's survival. The mind is a powerful tool - it can influence body chemistry - this is proven - to what extent is unknown. There is also power in the anecdotal story - there is power in meeting real "miracles" - those told they would not survive who are still here.
The power comes from within. I am known to not be fond of the word "fighter" or "fight" or "battle" as I refuse to get up each day and treat my life as something so conflict laden with a win or lose outcome. It is my life, the last thing I want is to battle every day. Regardless of whether I die from cancer or something else - I will NEVER be a loser! Sure to others it may seem I am fighting. I am giving it my all to survive. I am not sitting back and "accepting" my fate, having had the bone pointed at me. Most days I do all I can to defy the shitty odds - so I guess to some this seems like I am a "fighter/battler/warrior". To me there is no choice. I want to live and live well. I will not spend my time sitting back and accepting and walking off into the sunset.
Our life is pretty normal - mostly it is the life of an average family with three primary aged kids except Mum has medicine that she has to get regularly to keep her well. We also have help around the house as I can't manage it all and that gives me time to focus on doing what I need to to remain as well as I can. To my children, cancer is a chronic illness, which I manage the best that I can. Chemo is as common as vegemite. Sure, there are anxieties and stress that wasn't there before. Children are intuitive. All families have stress of some type - this is ours and we have our strategies to manage it. Each day we get up and we live. We argue at the dinner table, we laugh at the tv, we watch The Voice, we go to the markets on the weekend, we go to the beach, we go to the movies, I nag the kids about homework and music practice. I get upset if hubby is working too hard. We have date night every fortnight and movie, followed by our regular order at our local Asian restaurant. I still am not a morning person. I still grumble around in my dressing gown as I get a cup of green tea to read the papers on Sunday. It's all pretty standard stuff 90% of the time.
So there is a huge amount of good stuff. The belief that getting better is a possibility is number one, the belief that miracles happen close behind. None of those beliefs should hide how horrendous this can be for so many. I have not reached horrendous - I hope never to, but I know it may happen. It is true that I personally know 4 young women who have died already this year - that is real. It is also true that I have a very good friend who was told 5 years ago she had 6-12 months and she is cancer free and has been now for over 2 years. I have other friends who have had brain mets, liver mets, chemo induced leukaemia in addition to liver mets who are here 5 years on and stable or in remission. It IS possible. There is no formula - I am working out my own.
So yep - there is some really good stuff too. ;-)