I Must Have Been Meant To Cry Today

I saw the oncologist for the first time today since the end of May.  I don't mind these appointments, other than the fact that they never seem to run on time and I inevitably spend a lot of time sitting in a very cold (teeth chattering kind of cold) room wondering if they forgot about me.  Funny, today just at the exact moment I was wondering that very thing, the nurse comes in and says to me," We need to re-weight you!".  I admit, I was a little confused.  She said that "doc" was concerned because I seemed to have lost a lot of weight since the last time I was there (end of May.)!  This is good news, right?  

I had 15 minutes after being reweighed to laugh over the situation.  All through chemo, I hated being weighed. (And the oncologist knew that I was none to pleased by my chemo pounds!)  Those insane cravings that I had the whole way through chemo were not kind to the number on the scale.  Funny, now I don't mind being jumping on the scale (and letting everyone know exactly how I did it!)

Finally Doc appears.  On the agenda for today's discussion:

I don't really know what my future holds after my Radiation treatment is done.  My pathology reports came back very weakly ER positive. (Actually, the breast surgeon said she considered it ER negative.) What does this mean in cancer speak?  Well, it means that if they give me hormone blockers (more medication) after radiation, it will only kill 4% of any remaining cancer cells.  (Huh?  I thought that radiation was going to do that?  At this point, I am thinking that if chemo, surgery and radiation haven't killed them, they're probably not killable!)  Not very good odds, especially when we start talking side effects.  But, I'm going to hold off on making any quick decisions, and I'll let her explain her case to me when radiation is over.  Just one day at a time.  I've got 33 radiation treatments to get through first.

They're scheduling me for another echo-cardiogram to check and make sure that the Herceptin is not damaging my heart (this always frightens me- just the possibility that it's killing my heart... it kinda freaks me out).  They'll do these every 3 months....  So, by my calculations, that means only 2 more of those.  And then of course, she wants to do another PET Scan immediately following radiation.  Here comes the anxiety the everyone who has been in my shoes has told me about.  I didn't think they would do another one so soon, I just had 1 in May.  I guess that once the results arrive back in my lap, I will feel better for 6 months, until they order the next one, knowing that the sneaky little bastard didn't find his way to some other unsuspecting spot in my body.

My oncologist always sits down, and has a chat with me.  I always feel like she wants to know exactly how I'm feeling and what's going on in this goofy little brain of mine.  Today, we chatted a little bit about my energy levels, my weight loss, and how I was feeling in general.  Of course, she wanted to know what I was doing when I told her how good I was feeling.  

... And so. an hour and a half later, I was on my way to treatment.  I love to work the chemo room.  Everyone's got a story, or something interesting to tell me that will make me smile. And sometimes, it's my job to make someone smile.   Today was no different, although it was a whole new room!  I knew no one!  I did however get winked at by a 90 year old man- he was quite adorable.  His daughter apologized for him and told me he's a dirty old man. Great!   I found a cell phone in the bathroom, and thankfully was able to locate the owner because of the screensaver picture- she seemed quite shocked that I had returned it and not taken it!  I explained that one cell phone was enough, heck, there are days when I would gladly give the one away that I have.  

Then it happened.  It was somewhat inevitable I suppose.  In all the months of going to chemo, I didn't meet any patients that were terminal, stage 4.  But, it happened today, and it took everything I had in me not to cry.  Stupid cancer.  Stupid, dumb breast cancer.  Because it was breast cancer it hit me so hard.  I'm still feeling it 3 hours later.  Good God, I'm fortunate.   And what do you say?  I'm sorry doesn't really seem to cut it. I really didn't know what to say to her, but she was shivering, and shaking all over.  I got her a blanket, actually 2. I didn't have any words for this woman, but I could get her a blanket and cover her up. But I still felt horrible for not knowing what to say to her.  

Then it happened again. What are the odds?  (Apparently, the cards were stacked against me today!) I strike up a conversation with the woman sitting in the chair next to me.  (I had been trying to read, but I was completely unable to concentrate!)  Her husband is asleep in the corner with IV lines running into his arm.  She explains to me that he's got stage 4 mouth cancer that has spread to his throat, lungs, and lymph nodes.  She goes on to tell me that he's so sick from the treatment that he has lost 40 pounds- his only source of food is a feeding tube.   She goes on to tell me that she lost both of her breasts to cancer, part of her lungs, and some of her intestines.  She tells me that she's always been the sick one.  My heart really went out to this beautiful, old couple.  We talked for about 20 minutes.  As I was leaving, she hugged me and told me that I was going to be just fine, and told me to keep on fighting! 

I must have been meant to cry today.

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