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Friday, June 16, 2017

Friday From the Heart: A Year Ago Today

Invasive breast cancer recurrence. It was a year ago today that I got the news over the phone. The summer plans were changed once again as I was blindsided by a cancer that was supposed to be 98% sure to never come back. A year later and I am working my way back to normal.

I was in the oncology office this week getting set up for the clinical trial for the drug Ibrance. Funny, I saw a commercial last night on television for the drug. If there is one pet peeve that I have when I watch live (or DVR'd) television it is that drug companies have commercials. David and I were watching some Colombo on the ME channel that I had recorded. It is amazing how fast your thumb hits the stop button while you are zooming through commercials once you see a word that is newly familiar to you. Yes, there it was Ibrance...the name of the drug I am now taking. I hit play and watched the whole commercial. It is given to people who have had metastasized cancer as a treatment to stop the cancer growth. They are now testing it on people like me who have had a recurrence that was caught before metastasis to help stop the growth of anything that might have been too small to detect.

Wednesday morning they randomized me and I am taking the drug in this trial. There was a lot of education for me as this is a chemotherapy drug. No grapefruit or grapefruit juice for me, take it at the same time every day and wash your hands with soap and water after you take it. I will be honest, I have been perusing the packet of information on the drug since my first day of chemo last fall when the very friendly and fun nurse that works with the research group came and told me I qualify for a trial we will talk about when the chemo and radiation are done, here's some information.

I do remember once while reading thinking "wow, these side effects seem a lot like the chemo, I am not sure I want to do this. But then the other part of me says, "well, the trial will keep me under close watch of the doctor if anything were to happen in the next ten years". I was good with that. It wasn't til this week when it hit me, oh my, this IS a chemo drug! (I am a little slow, I know...I guess I wasn't paying much attention to the drug commercials before!)

My blood counts will be looked at closely as they have a tendency to go down while taking it. I have already had some lightheadedness and fatigue after two days. If I don't run into any complications I will be taking this for two years on 28 day on 7 day off cycles. Many of the typical chemo side effects can occur except I won'd lose keep my hair, it could thin some.

I am also getting used to a new hormone pill. The one I have been taking for the last three months made me feel like I had 90 year old joints. Shoulders, hips, knees, fingers, everything ached and it was hard to get anything done with all of the pain. So far I have been taking the new one a little over a week and although it takes a bit to get the old out of my system and the new working like it should, I have had a few better days as far as moving goes.

I am thankful to people who still ask how I am doing and sincerely want to know how they can pray. I don't necessarily love when the main topic of conversation becomes my hair. It is growing back nicely although I would love my bangs to speed up to the rest of my head. Time, it will just take a little more time. My main problem is mental right now I think. Life can be a little overwhelming and I know that is true cancer or no cancer. I am thankful for things to do.

So that is just a little look into how life is going a year later. As the "from the heart" part of this I have to admit I went through a few of the first posts I wrote the first week after hearing the news. I was reminded of some things I feel like I have forgotten or not pondered for awhile. That always helps me, going back in my journals or writings. Sometimes I feel like I was stronger in those early days than I feel today.

Mental...last time I went through treatment for my cancer, I was given a 98% chance that cancer is gone and won't come back. I didn't waste any time thinking about cancer coming back. That thought didn't cross my mind once. Until a year ago. Now that it has returned and been treated, I do think about returning cancer. It could. It did. I don't obsess with it at all. I know still to this day that God is sifting the things of my physical existence through His loving fingers. He has promised me so much. Long life though isn't necessarily one of them.

I am still doing everything that I can physically to be around for many more years to be with my loved ones, but I am also aware of who He is and how He loves me. I will always go back to a song I remember my grandma loving..."one day at a time, sweet Jesus. That's all I'm asking from you". I only need to ask for daily bread to face today. He is a faithful Potter who shapes each day of my life if I let Him. Strength for today with bright hope for tomorrow. I do want to make each day count and if this is the way that God uses to give me that perspective I will be thankful in this...all of it.

Pulling from a year ago...I share again:

I Corinthians 4:7-10 "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body."

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