Long, long ago ... in what seems a lifetime away, I got a bit of bad news and my life began to change. Over nine months ago, I was reeling from a diagnosis of breast cancer and living the surreal life that comes with it. And when I found out the date of my surgery, I posted And Here's the Wind-up because, hey, what better analogy for cancer treatment than baseball, right?
Both seem to take for frick'n ever and include long periods of boredom only slightly mollified by food and drink along with a series of side-shows attempting to entertain you as you wait for each pitch, waiting for something inspiring to occur. Or, as the player, you try to keep your eye on the ball, some seem to fly high and wide, others nearly take your head off, so you dig yourself in deeper, take a deep breath, and wait, hoping to crack that little m******f***** out of the park.
My personal trip around the bases included a dash towards first with my lumpectomy, then a frantic dash back to first as an infection required a second surgery. I scrambled next towards second base - mired in chemotherapy - and took some nasty hits that continue to bother me today. Someone should really knock that second baseman on his ass, maybe fine him for unprofessional conduct. I limped toward third base - radiation - and started to see the end in sight. A horde of third-base coaches stood waving me on home.
And here I am, straining to make it to home base, that initial ball o' triple negative breast cancer still (hopefully) flying out into the blue to be hopelessly lost forever. Pretty sure I broke the bat on that one. My long, soon-to-be 11 month rounding of those cancer-ball bases will continue this November 11, 2016, when I go into surgery again.
This is the "matching set" surgery I was so excited about in the wind-up post. After the lumpectomy and the "revisioning" surgeries last January and February, Frankenboob continues to recover. Now it is time to re-create some symmetry between the girls.
No, I won't suddenly be needing to don DD-sized brassieres. Let's leave Frankenboob alone, shall we? She's literally just gone through the fires of radiation for goodness' sake. Her game is over - send her to the showers. In fact, let's send in another runner for her, okay?
After some tussles early on in the game that included multiple mammograms, ultra-sounds, and a particularly nasty MRI-guided series of biopsies, Righty has been sitting the bench, resting.
Now it is up to her to finish this game. She'll start for home November 11th and she won't emerge unchanged.
Recovery will take roughly three weeks according to Dr. Livingston (I can't make up ALL these names). Dr. Andrew Livingston will handle this last surgery for me. As I reminded him that it only took me two weeks to recover from the creation of Frankenboob (and another 1 1/2 weeks following the "revisioning" surgery), he wisely directed my attention to the months of chemotherapy and radiation in-between and suggested that it just might take a bit more for me to bounce back this time around.
Right. True. Players feel a tad different at the end of a game than at the beginning.
I'm nearly three months out from chemotherapy and one month out from radiation. Already, I find myself looking back on those months and wondering how on earth I made it through it. We are SO much stronger than we believe. I don't believe anyone truly knows their own strength until it is tested. My hair is back - full and thick ... and gray - and grew as if it had been struggling wildly against a barrier that has suddenly been removed. The persistent cough that plagued my end of chemo ended in early August. My nails are slowly (agonizingly slowly) healing and growing.
Treatment has certainly left me weakened, with scars and continued pain, but the important part is that it left. Treatment is over. Each day, I look for new ways to hasten recovery. Currently, that means trying to figure out what I can do for the continuing pain of neuropathy that will not involve medication. As you can imagine, I'm kind of tired of medications, of putting anything in my body that includes some long list of possible side effects that invariably ends with ... "oh, and death." The pain and my fatigue should continue to improve over the next weeks and months.
If I were to ask one more thing from all of you who have been so incredibly supportive during this year, it would be for prayers, good thoughts, and hope that by next July (or sooner .... so much sooner), I will be free from the pain of neuropathy. I am told that if I continue to have pain a year after chemo has ended, it will likely be lasting pain.
And, yeah, that would suck.
But first, it will soon be time for a transformation - the creation of Bride of Frankenboob.
[Yes, I know I'm silly. I prefer that to whiney.]
I know I've said it before, and I'll continue to say it: Thank you. Thank you for your support. For your prayers. For your notes of encouragement. You overwhelmed me with support when I needed it the most.
If only every person who faced this deadly ... game had such fans. Such teammates and coaches.
[See how I steer this back to an American pastime? My least favorite American pastime.]
I'm going to cross home-plate even if I have to dive for it. And then I'm going to rest, ice down some joints and muscles, and head to the after-party.
Reminder: if you've stumbled across this through a search for breast cancer, chemotherapy, radiation, neuropathy, or any other such word because you're looking for answers, for hope that you can do this or that a loved one can make it through treatment, please feel free to contact me via comments or email. There is immense hope. You CAN do this. Your loved one CAN handle it.
As a dear friend said long ago: Life is Good.
If your search was for baseball, well, there is hope for you as well.
It's called basketball.