It is some times difficult all the information my brain needs to get through breast cancer in one piece. I am definitely a hoarder when it comes to information. When I was diagnosed I learned all I could about every aspect of my specific strain of cancer. I had no idea there are so many (approximately 15).
I researched survivability, recurrence rates, treatment options and expected outcomes. Some people should not research their conditions; I need all the information I can fit into my brain as understanding brings me comfort.
As it turns out, I now have signs of heart damage due to the medications. As some people are angry that doctors would be allowed to give a drug with such potential side effects what they are learning is that without this drug my boys would grow up without a mother. My grandchild would likely never meet me. Before this drug, survival rates were 50% at five years. As we did not find my tumor until it was 10cm and within a millimeter of invading my chest muscle I probably would not even be alive today already.
These are some of the choices cancer patients have to make…do I risk heart failure for the possibility of a long healthy life or so I cut my life short by refusing the medication?
The risk of heart damage from the drug we are thinking caused it is low (17%). Another one of my chemo medications taken earlier in treatment also has some cardiotoxic properties. The fact that my cancer is on my left side also means my heart was dosed with radiation treatment. Essentially, my heart has received a triple whammy.
There are conflicting reports about whether the damage is reversible. I am being extremely cautious knowing that it is not just one drug that could be causing this but instead a variety of factors.
What does this mean for my future? I’m not sure. I won’t know until I see a cardio-oncologist. That appointment is scheduled for Feb 1. It might mean heart medication, it might mean no more hockey coaching, it might mean my life expectancy is cut short, I really don’t know. If it’s reversible, it means nothing.
What I do know for certain is that God knows exactly what is happening. I know that He loves me so much that I am surrounded by people who will care for us in whatever way we need.
I’m preparing for the worst case scenario. Well, I’m preparing everybody else for worst case scenario. I know that if this is serious everybody around me will be ready for the news and I will not. It was the same when I finally heard officially that I would be starting chemo. I was not ready to hear the words, the reality.
This is the first trip I actually accepted an offer from a friend to join me. She said she will make whatever arrangements she needs to come with me. Up until now, I have made every Mayo trip solo. I’m hoping that it turns out things are fine and it’s just a bonding trip.
I won’t lie, I’m afraid. I think I was finished facing my own mortality. Knowing your heart might be broken from the inside is a huge gut-check.
What I do know at this point:
- God is bigger than my fear.
- Knowing people are praying is exactly what I need to hear.
- My family and friends are already circling the wagons to make sure I am taken care of.
- I am not yet sure how or what to tell the boys. I talked and downplayed it to Braylie already. She is just starting the second trimester of pregnancy, she does not need any extra stress.
- My humor right now is all a cover.
- I don’t want anybody to panic as much as I am. You can panic, I just don’t want to know about it.
- I am finally accepting the help people have been offering for the last year.
- I don’t think I can say “Cancer is really not that bad” anymore, and that makes me angry.
- Angry is just Sad’s bodyguard.
- I am cry a lot more than I used to when discussing the reality that is this journey.
- God will make sure we are provided for.
What I need everybody to understand though is that I am not afraid of dying. I am afraid of not living every minute of every day to the best of my ability.
Do I think this is the end for me? Not even close.
I am going to continue living my best life. Being the best mom I know how, loving people how God intended, moving closer to God as He comforts me and those around me.
I will no longer be pushing myself as I have been…I pushed like I was training for an event. The only way to build stamina is to push just a little more than is comfortable. Learning it may be cardiac related and not just healing changes things a bit.
I think often of our friend Gretchen…I want to be like her. So strong, so faithful, so full of love. I feel her close to me often. This last week she has been at my side almost constantly…she’s cheering me on, telling me she’s proud of me. I love that I can still hear her voice.