Anyone remember Disney’s “Pollyanna” movie from way back in 1960? As a 9-year old, I was at first annoyed by Pollyanna’s relentless optimism. But it was a good movie, it really was. And I became intrigued with Pollyanna’s creative thinking. I tried doing it myself for a while, for my own amusement. But I started to annoy myself and gave it up a few weeks later.
I’m sure my family was relieved.
Which brings me to a week ago, when I stopped feeling sorry for myself (well, not completely–my chest was still painfully decomposing) and got a grip. A semi-grip. As I explained to Banjo Man, I’d spent months referring to this time as the “Summer From Hell”. It had occurred to me–while tearfully sipping my second mug of coffee and thinking about my miserable situation–that I wasn’t being fair.
It actually had been the “Summer That Saved My Life”.
Oh, undoubtedly a lot of very unlucky things had happened: the tumor being three times the size the doctors thought it was, the malignant lymph nodes, the cancerous involvement of skin, the aspiration in the operating room, the many complications after surgery, the onset of lymphedema and the intense skin damage after radiation.
Shit bad luck.
BUT, as I told Banjo Man, I’d been lucky where it counted: the Oncotype number, meaning no chemo.
Two hours after our first visit to the breast cancer surgeon’s office, as I held my mammogram test results and wept with fear over what it all meant, Angela called me to say she was going to get us through this. Which she did, getting me into tests faster than the speed of light, relaying and explaining test results the minute (I swear) the pathologist read them, prescribing much needed medication and being with us through intense, emotional and often confusing “team meetings” with the breast cancer physicians. She researched the Oncotype statistics and studies for stage 3 cancer and insisted I have the test despite the other doctors’ objections. She had my back, as she’d promised she would. How lucky am I?!?
I’d been surrounded and cared for by a lot of kind and compassionate medical people. I cannot stress that enough. Kindness is so important when you’re terrified and falling apart.
I had so much love from family and friends. I don’t know how to tell you all what it meant to me. I was so grateful…and awed. I am weepy now just thinking about it. The cards and gifts and prayers and many, many kindnesses have been so appreciated. You have no idea how much.
I had Banjo Man taking care of me. How lucky am I?
So while it really was a Summer From Hell in so many ways, it saved my life. And I have stopped being angry and resentful (most of the time) and am looking ahead to being normal again.
I have decided I no longer have cancer. It’s been cut out of me and burned out of me, right? A brutal cure. According to all of the medical research and statistics, the five years of Arimidex should keep it from coming back. I wanted to ask my oncologist when I could say, “I had cancer” instead of saying, “I have cancer”, but she was so fixated on my radiated chest I lost the opportunity to discuss it with her.
It’s not completely over. I have one more physical therapy appointment. A follow up with the radiologist in October. A meeting with the oncologist in December. A check up and mammogram with the surgeon in February. I will be dieting and exercising and wearing my compression sleeve and doing “Yoga For Breast Cancer”. I’m a little nervous about this new medication and its possible side affects, but I’ll deal with whatever comes next because nothing involves a scalpel.
The “Summer That Saved My Life” is over and it is time to eat pumpkin pie and break out the tequila. I wish you could all celebrate here with me.