I hate the concept that as a survivor I am going to make it because I’m strong, or I’m a fighter. This leaves those of us survivors who get metastasis as people who simply didn’t fight hard enough. Apparently, they weren’t strong. This makes no sense to me. I’m not overcoming anything because I’m stronger or fighting harder or determined to beat cancer. I’m ok right now because my cancer hasn’t attached to another part of my body. Maybe I am lucky enough that my surgeon and chemotherapy took care of any rogue cancer cells, but it’s not because I’m tougher than the next person. It’s because, so far, I’ve been lucky. In fact, today has solidified just how lucky I am. I haven’t shared my recent fears and troubles with anyone in my family because I didn’t want to scare anyone. Quite frankly, I think I was scared enough that I didn’t want to say the possibility out loud to my parents, brother, and other family members. On January 31st I came down with the most awful headache imaginable. The following week I went to see my physician who gave me a shot for a migraine and a follow-up pill in case it didn’t work. Four days later, I was back at the doctor, prescribed antibiotics for a potential sinus infection. Nothing helped. My headache hasn’t let up. In fact, it’s there right now. Monday, I went in for a Brain MRI at the recommendation of my doc. My amazing “pink” sister, Sarah and Shaners met me at Salem Radiation to sit for 45 minutes while I got the full-workup. This was the same place that I had my biopsy and MRI when I was first diagnosed. I could feel the fear rushing through my veins when I walked in. I couldn’t help but remember the feeling I had when I heard the bad news. I knew that it was possible for bad news to come out of this place. I also logically knew (and had stupidly Googled) that my symptoms were possible for brain metastasis. I had begun to believe that my vision was blurring and had even seen an optometrist before my MRI to make sure that my headaches weren’t being caused by vision issues: 20/20. I also knew that nothing else was working to fix this headache. Nothing. I waited all day Tuesday for my results and then came home to get ready for Valentine’s dinner with Shane. Just as I was getting ready to leave for dinner, I started spotting! This could mean that I am coming out of menopause…which could easily be causing migraines from the increase in hormones in my system. Most of dinner I couldn’t concentrate. The only thoughts going through my mind were how I was going to deal with going through treatment for Brain Mets and how I was going to break the news to my family. I called my doctor this morning at 10:30 am and was met with the welcome news that my MRI was clear! I’ve never felt such relief in my life. It’s likely that the pain I’m experiencing is a side effect of coming out of menopause. I’ll be following up with my doctor regarding ovarian suppression to reduce the estrogen surge and hopefully kick this headache to the curb! I apologize to my family for not sharing this mess with you – I felt like this was one time that I couldn’t let you lose sleep over my health.
My happy news, however, is bittersweet as I found out Tuesday afternoon that another sister has been diagnosed with Stage 4. Kim is an amazing sweetheart who has done everything right – she’s a vegan, a runner, a friend to so many, and someone who I desperately wish didn’t have to deal with this new phase of cancer. It seems like there’s no rhyme or reason to who ends up Stage 4 and who is able to leave this crap in the rearview.
Kim, you already know you are in my thoughts. I am sending hugs and love and healing vibes to you. If you’re reading this and you need to go out for a drink or ever need someone to talk to – you know how to get me.
Deep breaths and renewed hope as we move forward in this journey!