Monday, July 21, 2014

And Then I Didn't Blog For 6 Months

Well hello there internet world of blogging! I'm still here!! But I have been lacking in the "write-out-your-feelings and life-story" department. And really, that is probably a good thing because I haven't exactly known how to formulate things these last few seasons. Hence my long silence.

So, how are things?

Well, life is good. Then it's hard. Life is good again. Then it's difficult. Life is good. Then it's stressful. And then it's good again.

Sounds like everyday average human life, right? And in some ways it is. I do a lot of everyday average things these days. I run. I do yoga. I meditate. I eat well. I go to work. I clean house. I garden. I go camping. Have Netflix marathons. Pay bills. Sing in the shower. Cuddle my cats. Get together with family and friends. Read the occasional book. Find myself overwhelmingly busy at times but I generally have been adjusting to what life looks like now post-cancer. (For the most part.)

And so an average normal-ish evening will begin when Mike and I both get home from work.

"How was your day?"
Good, but both of us are tired.

"What should we do for dinner?"
Halibut tacos. We've got avocado and there's cilantro in the garden. Yum.

We will enjoy getting dinner prepped whilst listening to good music and discussing weekend plans. "Do we go camping again?" "Go on a hike?" "Drive up the Coast and go lake swimming?" ... Hmmm... "Laundry needs to be done." "Did you take the recycling to the depot yet?" "Thanks for getting the cat food today." "We really need to re-do our front deck." "And win a large sum of money to pay for it." We smile at the thought and then begin devouring our homemade feast.

Then a simple question: "How does your stomach feel today?"

This is not Mike asking if I feel "ill" but actually how bruised and sore do I feel. Because two days earlier I had The Harpoon (aka Zoladex) injected into my lower abdomen. The one that suppresses my ovaries and has put me back into a sudden induced menopause. The pellet that was injected 4 times during chemo as an insurance policy to protect my eggs. The one with the massive needle that even the nurses cringe at the sight of. The "Plan B" of on-going estrogen-suppressing treatment for breast cancer due to the fact that Tamoxifen was getting to be a little too difficult for me to manage. The 'drill bit' shot that causes dime-sized bruises, throbbing pain at the injection site for 2-3 days and a multitude of familiar and NEW! side effects. (yay me!)

It was injection numero 3 of 40-ish-something last week. Yes. 40-ish-something. I am supposed to do this shit for 3.5 more years to complete the five year standard of care for hormone-blocking therapy after ER+ breast cancer. Yep. Super great fun times.

And then our conversation takes a pretty big shift from there. Mike and I discuss my pain and my side-effects. The reactions that increase my anxiety and number of panic attacks since I stopped Tamoxifen. The headaches. The brain-fog. The moodiness. The increased fatigue. The hot flashes. Bladder function issues and other fun lady problems. The joint and bone pain. The benefits of continuing the drug (LIVING! LOWER RECURRENCE RATES! LONGER LIFE! HELLO!) but the long-term consequences of it too. Bone loss and the increase risk for heart disease. What about quality of life? What about the option of trying Tamoxifen again instead? But then there's the risk of endometrial cancer, blood clots and cataracts. And the joint-pain, anxiety and girly issues were no better on that. What about stopping it all completely? But then what if cancer returns? Then there's the secondary drug my oncologist recommends we introduce in addition to this current regimen.

Oye yoi yoi.

And of course there is having to wait so long for kids (if we are blessed with that being an option) >>> Not surprising news flash: I'm a little baby crazy lately! As one might be at my age... I could do a full post on this subject alone... Sweet little babes and kidlettes make me want to gush and cry simultaneously. Radiant pregnant mamas seem to be at every corner! People that don't know our situation ask if we have children and reassure me "it will happen soon" when I say that we don't. Others are not even aware that I'm still being treated assume we must be trying. So-and-so is pregnant with her third. And babies are everywhere! Do we really want to be 35 and 39 having our first baby? It feels like such a long time to wait! What if it's too late? What if this. What if that.

Mike and I are now equally dismayed and our lovely dinner turned serious convo has led us to a place that we reach periodically ever since the cancer shit hit the fan.

Why couldn't we have had a normal life like everyone else and just be doing this au natural sans IVF and sans the worry of needing to block-estrogen and sans fear of putting my life at risk? Without cancer having dictated when we could start a family. Without oncologists, follow-ups, ultra-sounds, mammograms, menopause, crappy side-effects and monthly reminders that I am still doing treatment when I get this blasted injection. Without breast cancer having disrupted our lives. Poor Mike having to put up with this stuff. Sometimes there is guilt about the fact that he didn't just end up with a 'normal' girl. (Apparently a common theme among us young ladies with amazingly devoted men.)

By the time we finish dinner we are both a little more than exhausted. Talking about this IS exhausting. Cancer, during and after, is exhausting. Living this is exhausting. Heck, hearing about it is exhausting. I try not to whine and complain too much but this is our reality and cancer really sucks. This is what we are going through, dealing with and living each day. Life after cancer. A second chance to which I am grateful for when I wake up each morning.

I celebrate turning 31 today and am thankful for another year. (Although it really does feel like I should be celebrating 29 today since it does feel like I lost 2 years)

But despite the set-backs and "stolen" time from cancer, I am proud of how far I have come and how I choose to live life ever since. I challenge myself. Make bucket-lists. Live as fully as I can. Dream. Plan. Do regular everyday type stuff. Fall apart some days and pick myself up and move forward others. Adjusting to what life now looks like for Mike and I... Harpoons, appointments and side-effects included. Trying hard not to dwell on the past, living in the moments that feel good and looking forward to days when cancer, follow-ups and treatments are just that much further behind us.

Cancer does suck. But this life is good.


  1. SoI relate to pretty much everything in this post, except the fish tacos. Zoladax is giving me anxiety, and babies . . . well, they are like a dream only now. For the Zoladex - do make sure it a 30-40 degree angle and ice the area before so that it is good and numb. These two things help me.

    Nice to read you again! :)

  2. I am so happy to read another post of yours. I missed it! I miss you! I get local anaesthesia with my Zoladex shot! It really does wonders! I didn't feel anything last time! I am still feeling sad and upset a lot of the time.. but I also have better days. I can only hope there will be more and more of those! Even though it is with ups and downs and you are still tired... your story is hopeful!

    Don't get me started on the baby thing. Everybody is having a baby over here as well! It makes me very sad... but then again this Dutch girl that I know through breast cancer quit tamoxifen and is now pregnant! Pretty amazing eh?