I haven’t been writing much lately. Instead of reflecting with paper and pen, I am finally at a point where I can do more and move into some areas that I’ve been prayerfully considering. I’m happy to be alive, with such a great quality of life besides.
Just one year ago, on August 25th, I was undergoing a blood transfusion. I was waiting for chemo treatment to begin, and had been told about my diagnosis: metastatic breast cancer in the bones and marrow. The doctor wouldn’t even venture a guess at a prognosis. He just said, “I’ll have to see how you respond.”
I’m so very grateful, that one year later I have far more energy than last year. I’m back to my old walking speed, and at times I just want to keep walking. I enjoy it so much.
I’ve changed doctors in the last few months. Since things have stabilized and a treatment plan has been established, I felt it would be a good idea to look outside the confines of the doctor who had treated me. At the encouragement of an old friend I looked into hospitals that specialize in cancer. When I began investigating, I realized that I was not only close to City of Hope, but UCLA as well. UCLA is considered the best in the State, and ranks 10th in the nation. I chose UCLA, and was scheduled for an appointment the same week! It was amazing that I could get in as early as I did, with an MD who does research in breast cancer and teaches at the medical school.
She confirmed that my treatment plan was appropriate, but did have other options outside of chemo if my body did not respond. Since I’ve been feeling so good, I thought it was best to make a change to a new doctor so he/she could get to know me as a patient. Late last year UCLA opened up a satellite office in Irvine, only 20 minutes from my house! So, I am getting the benefit of UCLA research and knowledge without the major trip into LA. I believe God opened the doors to make this change.
My new doctor has a different demeanor and it has been quite an adjustment for me. I’ve gone from a blood test every 2 weeks, to a blood test every other month. I’m still trying to get used to it. She assures me that more frequent blood tests are not necessary at this time, that the blood does not change that quickly. About 2/3 of her patients are breast cancer patients and she came highly recommended by her colleague that I met with in LA, so I think this must be okay. She has also allowed me to have the chest port removed, which is used for easy access to my arteries. Since other drugs would be used before chemo, she says that it is not necessary. This has been an especially welcome change of course. The port itself was painless, but tubing did run up my neck and that was very uncomfortable.
I praise God for all of these changes. I don’t have the constant sense that I am a sick person, which the repeated blood draws and accompanying doctor appointments did do. As long as I feel fine I don’t have to have this cloud hanging over me. My new doctor even remarked that this seemed like it would not be good for one’s mental well-being to be under such close supervision (and in her opinion, so unnecessarily.)
You can pray for God to give me wisdom and discernment with this new “approach.” I liken it to going from a 20 foot tether, to be pushed off a plane without a parachute. It is that shocking to my psyche. On one hand it gives me a better sense of well-being, but after so many months with no relief from blood tests and appointments, it is d i f f e r e n t.
On another subject…
With the passing of the famed astronaut Neil Armstrong, I’ve done some news searches on his life and the lives of other astronauts. This led me to a news conference with the Apollo 13 astronauts, and their firsthand account of their flight in space and miraculous trip back to earth. I googled the astronauts and read something that really hit home for me. Jack Swigert died early in life of cancer. The account I read stated that he was diagnosed with cancer in a nasal passage sometime during his political campaign for Congress. He won the election, but he was never sworn in. In December of that year they discovered that the cancer had spread to his bone marrow and his lungs. He died before the end of December.
It went to his marrow and within a very short time he had died. I think about that. Cancer in the bone marrow was an automatic death sentence in 1982. Last year cancer had overtaken my bone marrow almost to completion, and here I am today. It gives me pause; and it makes me glad that I am busy living life one year later.
It’s a lot to take in.
This is the day the LORD has made; We [I] will rejoice and be glad in it.