Friday, March 30, 2012

You can't have a rainbow without rain......

You know the old adage "When it rains, it pours." Well, that is how I feel sometimes. Especially living in this soggy place we call the NW. But really I wouldn't have it any other way. You see, we get a lot of rain, as many of you know. But because of this rain, we get to live in a place that is green all year. We have the most beautiful days of summer. Our early fall days are so pleasant, you can almost see the leaves changing in October sunshine. And in spring, yes it is spring now, when we get a break from that rain, we see a rainbow as the sun shines brightly on the blooming flowers and trees. You know you have all seen this. You've smelled the fresh cut grass (and then sneezed) and then smiled. It is because of all this rain that we have really do have glorious seasons here in the NW. It is what makes living here so wonderful. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.

When I was in high school I was part of a Catholic Youth Council. We met every few months in Seattle. We didn't see each other often but when we did we always started our meetings with a weather report. Well, just like outside, it has been raining in my life quite a bit lately too. And although, I thought it was pouring in February, the rain is coming down a bit more right now. I have had some partly cloudy days and some partly sunny days. (If you are from the NW, you know the difference). Today, partly cloudy and rain.

I will admit some days it gets really hard to wait for that break in the sky. We just want a little sun to shine down. It is very easy to get wrapped up in the solemn feeling that a gray, rainy day can bring. Sometimes, it is hard for me to not feel this way emotionally. I have had a few real rough days or moments because as you know our weather can change so quickly. Some days have been great. I have gone to work. Had a great day, but just come home tired and so emotional I just want to sleep...or cry. A few times it has been both. It is just so important for me to go on as usual to the best of my ability. I don't know sometimes if this is strength or denial. But it is living and that is what I want to do. 

This cancer has made me feel hope and feel helpless all at the same time. I am not always in control. This I found out pretty well recently. There is definitely some sunny patches in these gray days.  I still can't believe the number of people who are supporting me. I am in awe of the support page, the offers for help, the fundraising and everything else. I have truly appreciated everything. Especially words of encouragement. It is through all of this that God is reminding me that I am not alone. Proverbs 27:10 says "Better a neighbor nearby than a brother faraway." Well, I am lucky to have both. Neighbors near (and that includes Castle Rock) that I know will truly be there. And since many of you know I don't like surprises or asking for help, you did all this with out me. It is still hard to accept why and feel worthy of it all. I think because I have felt pretty normal so far. But after today I know that I will definitely need support. Because I can admit I have no idea what to expect form this cancer.

You see, I went to my oncologist today. I have been taking the tamoxifen for about a month now. The side effects haven't been too bad. Mostly hot flashes that come at the most inopportune times, like in line at Fred Meyer or at Evan's basketball game. But I had hopes that this drug would help shrink these tumors. Well, that appears to not be the case. I now have swollen nodes in my neck and the swollen nodes in my axilla (arm pit) and tumor in my breast are swollen to the point of it constantly aching. This estrogen in my body is fighting hard, enlarging not shrinking and apparently spreading to other lymph nodes. I knew there was a possibility of this. Things just haven't felt right. But I wanted to wait and get confirmation before any "freak out" commenced. 

So, I am ready to fight. Nick and I agree we need to be aggressive with treatment. My oncologist agrees too which is good. So, we are stepping things up a bit. Going forward with ovary removal, starting the IV therapy Herceptin next week. Changing drugs to one called Tykerb. Which is an aggressive drug for cancers like mine that over express HER2 (a growth factor with a big name that basically means my cancer promotes or encourages the growth of more cancer cells). And hopefully we will stop this estrogen from feeding these cancer cells and starve them. This drug will also come straight from the doctor as pharmacies don't carry it. 

Anyway, today I received a shot of Zoladex in my abdomen to begin shutting down my ovaries. The irony here is (and men stop reading if it is too much) is that I started my monthly yesterday. Yes, Aunt Flo is here for a visit. But hopefully (and here is the rainbow) this may be my last menses...ever! That will be weird, but I could do without it.  I had a chuckle with the nurse about this before she stuck me. At least I was numbed with lidocaine before the very sweet nurse Lena put the long needle in. Then I didn't feel anything. I sure wish lidocaine was always available for cramps. (She got quite a chuckle from this too). It was nice not to feel anything in my lower abdomen for awhile. But that didn't last long. 


What lies ahead? 

In the next month, I will have two more surgeries. One to remove my ovaries and one to place an IV port so they don't have to stick me every time. My IV therapy will consist of sitting in a chair for 2-3 hours having drugs pumped in my body every couple weeks and I will begin the new drug Tykerb. Then, if in 6-8 weeks when I have another scan, it better show these things shrinking. If not, we will discuss chemotherapy at that time. 

So things are still looking a bit cloudy but definitely some sun breaks and rainbows ahead. Just need to hope for the best and ride this out. Even Noah rode it out. All those rainy days and nights. But he saw his rainbow and I will too :)

"I have set My rainbow in the clouds." Genesis 9:13.

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