I’ve been too busy living to blog or FB, but tomorrow is my first Ipi infusion. Wish me luck!
I was going to make a list of top ten things never to say to a cancer patient, but I ran into someone at my reunion that saved me the trouble and rolled it all up into one.
“I didn’t follow your little Internet cancer adventure thing, but I’m so glad you beat that.”
Wow. Winner-winner chicken dinner.
Cancer is not an adventure. It’s a nightmare for me, my family, and all the friends open-hearted enough to get involved. Cancer is losing old friends who can’t handle it and my body disappointing me despite my iron-clad desire to beat this thing.
Cancer is pain, nausea, vomiting, hair loss, itching, fevers, chills, exhaustion, having parts removed and implanted, memory problems and trying to miss as little as possible of what’s left of my life.
Waiting to get appointments. Waiting during appointments for the sound of shuffling papers outside my door, like staying up for Santa. Listening as they talk about me in the hallway like I’m not even there. Waiting for call backs and test results. Always more waiting.
Worrying. Who will pick up the kids, feed them, let the dog out, or how will Alan make it to work that day? What happens if I get sick on vacation or who will help raise my kids when I’m gone? When and where will the cancer come back?
Watching the clock at night, worrying about my heart and brain. Wondering if I’ve seen my last sunrise. Discussing my DNR the one night I was hospitalized this year. Making sure my medical power of attorney is on file at the hospital tomorrow. I remember my Dad on life support. I don’t want that to be me.
Cancer is acceptance. I cannot control my disease. I gave up my dreams of our retirement together, seeing my kids graduate and get married. Grandchildren. I released them like balloons into the sky and watched them float away. It was too painful to cling to them. Besides, who guaranteed me any of those things anyway? There are no guarantees. I’ve accepted physical and emotional limitations I never expected at 42.
Cancer is clarity on the important things in life. Everyday blessings you never noticed. Incredible generosity of spirit and time from family and friends that restores your faith in the greater good of humanity. Amazing joy in unexpected places. Caring people saying awkward things and the ability to smile and hug and know they meant the best. Becoming angry or insulted less often, forgiving quickly, and being more honest.
Cancer brings joy in each sunrise. The opportunity to know Him better. Seeing Christ in others. Strength, hope, and faith I never knew was within me. Psyching up for another round of treatment and finding the will to fight, Fight, FIGHT!
Really Celebrating Birthdays!!
But a “little adventure”? Nope.
I trust my oncologist. He thinks Ipi might be a good thing and this is the best time to try it. Ipi is not chemo either, it is an immunological therapy. It’s supposed to ramp up my immune system to keep the melanoma in check all by itself. They don’t know how long it works, when it works or who it will help. It’s tricky. It can take 6 months to kick in. Things can get worse before they get better. It can’t be undone. It’s not a pill I can stop taking if I feel ill.
Some people have stable or no disease 7 years after finishing Ipi treatment. It can resolve brain mets (ahem… there, I said it ). Many patients can’t handle all four rounds of Ipi. The one friend I know who tried it was hospitalized several times after two rounds and is still suffering. But alive. And we hope, cancer-free.
Tomorrow is Ipi Day one. Blood work, dr appt, 90 minute infusion (IV), 1 hr wait and watch, and lastly more blood work. It will be a 6 hour affair. I’m nervous. Who wouldn’t be? No guarantees.
For 2012 The National Cancer Institute projects that 76,250 people in America will be diagnosed with melanoma and 9,180 will die. I really don’t want be 9,181. As always we hope and pray for the best and keep moving forward.
Please say a prayer for me Monday.
Peace to each of you – Amy