Thursday, November 29, 2012

Inspiration: On Courage, via Viscott, Lennon and Thompson

This David Viscott quote recently swirled around my Facebook page a couple weeks ago, and immediately became one of my favorites. 

I was right off a couple more big weeks of new tests, procedures and pokes. Quite frankly, it hadn't all gone quite as planned, and I hadn't shown up quite as loving and compassionate as I like. In fact, I was a mega-raging b!tch on at least one occassion. (Girl, don't smack your lunch in my face after leaving me in a windowless room waiting for 30 minutes!) But I digress...

On 11/21/2012, I wrote this in my journal, right as this quote started to really percolate in my brain:

It’s been another big few weeks. Monday was my post-port placement check in and MRI results with Dr. C. 

Then a pre-chemo education session and my first port access for a blood draw with the fantastic Nurse Brooke, over at Dr. B’s. (Good news, we learned the port would not immediately rip out if I did have a good day and got to do something fun like go skiing. Bad news, if I got hurt doing anything crazy like that, my clotting would be most likely be decreased, so I’d want to think strongly about my desire to bleed out on the slopes before attempting any feats of strength. And, I definitely have to wear a helmet and take it easy. Ah, well. Maybe we'll stick with the short walks!)

Bummer, we got some unexpected info out of the MRI results. It honestly hadn't even occurred to me that there still might be more to all this. I was living in my little fantasyland that because my mammogram only showed right breast involvement, and the surgery went so well, with no lymph involvement and clear margins, and because my genetics came back with no BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations, there couldn't possibly be any left breast involvement. I've been so focusy-focused on what's left of my little right boobie, murmuring sweet nothings to her and rubbing Vitamin E oil on my scars, I kind of just have been gently appreciating and quietly ignoring the left, hoping she'll just hang in there for me!

Now, while the doc says all the initial signs are promising, it still means more tests, more wondering, more waiting. Honestly, it's not as bad as round 1, because hey, I've already been diagnosed with the can't-sir, and have been given my initial treatment plan of 8 sessions of dense-dose chemo and approximately 7 weeks full-breast radiation, so it's a little bit less stressful than the first time hearing, "The tumors are cancerous." It could mean some slight changes to that treatment plan, it could mean more surgeries, it could mean any number of uncomfortable things... but it's still not like hearing the big C-word for the first time.

The MRI findings were honestly just a bit of a bugger. This is one of the known problems with breast MRIs right now. They’re really sensitive and so what they’re seeing may or may not be anything. So, while Dr. C luckily felt like we could ruled out the "floaters" in the right breast for now as benign and nothing to worry about, she still thought I should have the left ones checked out. Turns out they were super small, so under ultrasound, they were only able to biopsy one.

Either I'm getting more pain-tolerant (highly likely at this point), or it really did hurt less than my first biopsies (since that was also a double-hitter), but it still ain't a walk in the park to have a vacuum-aspirated needle stuck in your boobie, flesh sucked out, and a titanium marker inserted in its place. Sigh. And quite frankly, it was just an enough-is-enough moment. I wasn't quite ready for a surprise biopsy on the day I had only planned to be psyched up for chemo #1. Too bad, girl! As a friend reminded me this week, it's like Mr. Lennon said: "Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans." And gotta love my hubs, who so sweetly said, "Honey, only you would have the guts to go for a biopsy in the morning and chemo all afternoon. You go, girl!" God, I love that man!

So, Monday was MRI results, chemo education and blood draw, and Tuesday was, indeed, an ultrasound and unexpected biopsy of the left breast, plus Rousing Round 1 of A/C chemo. And Wednesday, I wrapped it up my first Neulasta shot. 

Chemo day itself was, as promised, pretty uneventful. No big highs, no big lows, during my 2-hour treatment. Actually, it was an amazingly sweet time... texting with friends from afar, re-connecting via Facebook with others. I felt so loved and supported over the miles. It was a fantastic use of technology. And the treatment itself wasn't too bad. No huge pain or excitement. Later in the evening, I got a little nausea around 5pm, but it went away with a anti-nausea med and some food. It was the headache that was the worst... I think it was from the Cytoxan, and it lasted til about noon Wednesday. Finally started to recede, came back a bit, and then later on Wednesday, I took a Claritin-D to help wth the potential bone pain from the Neulasta shot, and that resolved the headache really well. And so far, no bone pain, so yay.

I just had some mild fatigue Wednesday morning, so I took it easy and saved my energy for the afternoon’s doctor appointment and a short visit with some dear friends. And, yes, I wore my Michael Jackson mask for our friends' visit, since I’m technically not supposed to see folks this week, and they'd had some flu going around in their circles, so just as an extra precaution. Pretty awesome. With my pink wig, I looked like an anime nurse assassin or something. Just needed the sword.

Food-wise, I have a light appetite but nothing tastes very good. I think the best thing all day was my banana smoothie this morning and some cranberry juice this evening. First round of chicken noodle soup was good too at lunch, but late dinner, nope, totally gross. 

Now, back to the quote. I just love it. And you can start to see why, I'm sure. This can't-sir ride is a constant stream of learning to be flexible. Things change moment to moment. Just when I think I have the guts to do one thing, and maybe even do it really well, like with some modicum of grace and dignity, another thing comes down the pipeline, and I'm left a little shocky, and typically somewhat maimed and bloody, to pick up the pieces. And go again.

But if we have the courage just to begin a thing, yes, I think it does make sense: we have the courage to keep beginning it. To keep picking up the next piece, and the next piece, and the next, one at a time, until they're all done with. I love the certainty this gives me. The feeling that I really can handle anything, as long as I just take it as it comes, honoring my own courage, knowing that all is truly well. I began it, which means I have the courage to see it through to the finish. How powerful we are, when we choose to "buy the ticket, take the ride"...

In fact, I kind of freaking love it.

What do you see about having the courage to begin a thing? 

Where have you already taken that first step in your own journey, enabling the next to peel away almost seamlessly?

Share your comments. Share your voice.

P.S. Have you had a week of surprises too? Feeling a bit done with introspection for a bit, and just want to laugh? If so, may I recommend an oldie but a goodie? And also this one.

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