Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Hours Days Months Years

I am amazed that my last entry was late October! Where has the time gone? And how is it that my ninth and final chemotherapy treatment was three weeks ago already? I suppose it's a good thing. If you had asked me during the long days of mid-September or early October if the treatments were going by quickly, I would have said, "Are you kidding?" It felt like time stood still as I spent countless hours on the couch unable to focus on anything. Hour after hour I listened to soothing music on my iPod and stared at the living room ceiling, or looked at the treetops sway in the breeze outside the window behind the couch. Those were the days when the loneliness of cancer crept up on me like the water that leaked into our basement on our 35th wedding anniversary. We didn't see it coming but the impact left us in despair as we scrambled to cope.

Actually, in retrospect I suspect I was lonely by choice. I think I preferred being alone over entertaining even my closest friends or relatives on my worst days. Not sure why. Perhaps I chose to suffer in solitude to protect them from the heartache of watching someone they love suffer.

But I've made it through the darkest days. I survived chemotherapy--the most frightening aspect of receiving a cancer diagnosis for me personally. I watched my sister suffer through chemotherapy when she got lung cancer in the early 1990s. I watched her daughter, my niece, endure unspeakable suffering during her induction phase of chemotherapy after her leukemia diagnosis in 2006. I honestly thought I would never be faced with the prospect of those toxic drugs pumping into my veins! But it happened and now I'm on the other side. Unbelievable!

In a mere eight days, I will drive to Boston very early in the morning (on December 17th) and be admitted to Mass General for a lumpectomy. Yup, the Avastin (clinical trial drug) coupled with the adriamyacin, cytoxin and taxol has successfully shrunk the tumor and, thankfully, made it possible for me to have a simple lumpectomy instead of a mastectomy. In all likelihood, I will go to sleep in my own bed that night. I've never had surgery before nor been under general anesthesia but I keep in mind that millions of people have surgery every day and I'll be just fine.

On Christmas Eve our children, their spouses, and our grandchildren will gather around our Christmas tree and create a new year of Christmas memories. After the first of the year, I begin my rounds of radiation. When we celebrate my third grandchild's (Anna Mae's) first birthday on July 14, 2010, and perhaps have welcomed our fourth grandchild, I will have passed the one year mark since my diagnosis. And if time keeps ticking as quickly as the past four months have passed by, before long I will be two, three, four, even five years out from my July 1, 2009 diagnosis. Breast cancer will be a memory but, from what I hear from other survivors, the thought that it can come back pops up nearly every single day.


  1. Hey Donna:
    Thanks for making me aware of your blog. It is great to read your writing again and to receive this encouraging update on your journey.--Patrick Klingaman