Friday, January 20, 2012

I'm Out of Estrogen, and I've Got A Gun

Okay, the first part of the title is true, the second part isn't. I don't have a gun. Don't want one.
So the next stage of cancer treatment has begun. I mentioned in a past blog post that there is this amazing test that can determine the genetic makeup of the tumor, and all kinds of details about it, including what it likes to eat. This tumor fed on estrogen, ate it all the time, liked to consume it even more than I like to consume fine chocolate.
Obviously beneficial treatments are surgery to remove the tumor - done - and radiation treatment to kill off cancer cells in the tumor area - done. Now we get into a statistical wilderness. I might be in the 84% of women who have this kind of tumor and this kind of treatment who will not have a recurrence in 5 years even with no further treatment. Or I might be in the 16% of women who will have a recurrence unless I do further treatment.
More tests, more scans, more discussions with doctors, more questions, more prayers. Any follow-up option includes being on medication for 5 years. The one that is most effective is considered a long term chemotherapy that would shut down estrogen production from my adrenal gland. That combined with surgery to remove my ovaries would shut down the cancer food source and starve any remaining cancer cells. So when I gather all this in and learn about all the possible horrific side effects, and find out that this will lower the chance of recurrence to 6%, I must admit to having some "My Brain is Melting!" moments.
I considered just risking a recurrence, but I found out that when cancer recurs, it does so with major attitude. It comes back with a vengeance. I would have a better chance surviving a whole new cancer than a recurring one.
Several times a day I meditate and pray for strength and guidance. I have learned to be open to that coming in any possible way. While I was trying to process all this information and make some choices, I was meeting new patients at treatments each day, and they would share their journey with me. One amazingly positive woman is on her 48th round of chemo. Another woman is dealing with her second recurrence. This is taking on life in the trenches. Then I woke up one morning and realized that if taking on this next stage of treatment will give me even one more day with Mike, and with my kids, it is worth it.
I had the surgery 2 weeks ago, and started on the medication the next day. Unlike easing into menopause, this is like taking a high dive off a cliff. The worst side effects might take a while. Since I am healthy, and more active as my strength returns, I am hoping things won't be severe. For now, instead of hot flashes, I seem to be having extremely warm spells. If suddenly feeling like the world is going to end and  sobbing uncontrollably for 2 minutes, then feeling fine again counts as a mood swing, I've had a few of those.
Poor Mike.
My current mantra is "There are worse things". I need to remember to just say it to myself. I think I said it to others too often when there were 30 of us gathered at my mom's house for Christmas and anyone happened to complain about anything. Oh well, with family it's all relative.
That was a "Mommy Joke".
Anyway, I hope I can learn to be as patient with others as people are being with me. I have come to learn that everyone is waging their own battle.
If I act weird for the next few years, this is just one of the fierce battles I am waging.
And I promise I won't get a gun.


Big Bahama Mama said...

I'll get you a squirt gun. It could relieve some stress without sending you to jail.

greenfrog said...

Glad to have you in my world.

(And I wanna see a mood swing... ;-))

Barbara Bee said...

Interesting blog and interesting decision. Our prayers are with you.
You are a survivor. I know you will be guided to the right choice. God bless...

Daphne said...

Well, there are upsides to this...since you're having "warm flashes" you can lower your heating costs. No more monthly cycles. You've just been given the biggest Get Out of Jail Free card - anything you do, you can blame it on the mood swings! Seriously, I love you and pray for you my dear friend. This too will pass, although it may feel like a major kidney stone at times.

Valerie Lee said...

Thank you for sharing your joys and stuggles. It gives perspective and strength in our own issues. The Lees love and pray for you.