Thursday, January 31, 2008

A Visit From Hope

Yesterday, I had a visitor. Her name was Hope. She said she'd been travelling for 28 days to get to me and was tired. She wanted to crash on our couch, I said sure.

Quite beautful she is with her talk of sentiment and joy. We talked about healing and about spontaneity. She gave me some special glasses so I could see better, and said I'd only need them for a while; until my eyes adjusted.

She's a bit pushy though; she reminds me of me. Down girl, down!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

My Response to Her Response

Hi Christina,

Thank You, your words mean a great deal to me; I can hear the birds chirping again.

I know that this is why you took last Friday off; you didn't quit though; thank you.

I appreciate the stats on poorly timed hysterectomies. To be clear though, it's not just the talk of hysterectomy that burns me. Since August, I shared with you my "triangle" of pain and discomfort in my belly and pelvis; you said not to worry. I shared with you the show of mucus and spotting; you asked if I wanted an antibiotic. I shared with you that it felt like I was getting my period, of cramping and of my gut problems; you were not alarmed. I shared with you my pain and anguish and knew there was something wrong enough to request to be scanned again. You scanned me again and this is where we are.

I believe that if I were heard, we may have come to find the cancer had spread in the cervix only, and not to the lymph. We could have nipped this in the bud in September. But now, I am very sick. This is what burns me. At one point I even thought there might be a dead baby inside of me. How weird is that? Not so weird, my body was telling me something was horribly, horribly wrong.

I know more than you about how my body feels; you know more than me about other things. Promise me that you'll listen to the bodies talking to you; telling you that something is not right. Promise me you've learned something from me; that you will add this to your successes.


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Meer Mying are Mest Moo Mo

I think I need to break up with my oncologist. She says she tries her best; I say her best isn't good enough! My God, how do we begin to define "best" with this before us? I'm beginning to despise her and mock her under my breath; "we're trying our best you know..." "meer mying are mest moo mo...!"

Could she be teaching me something that I should stick around for? Perhaps I am supposed to learn forgiveness. If only I'd gone to Church every Sunday; maybe I'd have something to fall back on; maybe this would make more sense; maybe it would get me through.

When you get diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer do you:

a) wake up and fight
b) go back to bed

Monday, January 28, 2008

Gargling with Giggles

Today, my tears sting like lemon juice when it gets you in the eye. They're plump and they're jumping off my face.

I love Max; I want to eat marmalade off his toes and gargle with his giggles. Lately, he cries when I put my jacket on; he must wonder where I'm going and if I'm coming back.

Her Response

i am truly sorry
i am sad that you don't trust me anymore.. but i understand
i tried my best to explain to you and your husband in the spring that the optimal treatment at that time was not a hysterectomy. i truly did not and still did not believe that it is/ was. Perhaps you have already discussed this issue with Drs McAlpine and Swenerton. Because of the size of the cancer in the spring, chemotherapy and raidation therapy is the proven optimal treatment. A hysterectomy upon completion of therapy in the absence of known residual disease have never been shown to benefit the patient and actually has been demonstrated to be detrimental in some cases.

i would like to see you, anytime.. . if you can come in this afternoon even..
I don't know what else to say
i too am devastated with the situation and feel terrible about it... and in fact that is why i took last friday off... to be with my husband...and to review priorities
i am available to see you anytime

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Letter to My Oncologist - January 11

Hi Christina,

Kelly once told me that he imagined his death would be by saving someone's life; like a dear friend or a son. I wonder if he ever imagined dying while trying to save his own life. This it seems, is the very predicament that I am in.

After a week of strange love, anger, sadness and near psychosis, we've decided to invest our energy in being positive and functioning from the assumption that I will not die. Being positive for more than three or five minutes however is so very difficult. There are no words to describe this tug of war. There are visuals however; those of rope burn and muddy faces. As with anything, the restraint and discipline required to stay true and positive comes with practice; thankfully, we've decided to take the challenge.

I wanted to take a moment to share one of my problems with you. I believe that my ability to fight and to heal is directly linked to the trust I have in you and my other doctors. Sadly, I do not trust you anymore. I dont' trust you because you didn't listen to me and let's face it, I'm loud. Something between us is very different and I am very afraid, angry and tied in knots over it. I wonder (among the many patients you have feelings for), how you're feeling about the turn of events for me?

I need to know. I think I may even need an apology to move on. I might even need to hear from you that you didn't listen to me and that you made some mistakes. I may even want you to say something very special to me; something that provides some insight and some strength for me. I wonder if you are up for this challenge? I hope so, because I need to trust you to fight this. I can trust you when you demonstrate some of your most visceral thoughts and words; the kind you're not supposed to show your patients.

We are due to meet again on the 16th and I believe that there is nothing you will say to me that will be more difficult or more painful than what I've had to say my son, my husband, my mom and my closest friend. Have I got you all wrong in this? If so, please tell me, I will listen. Let's have a candid visit. Let's do it my way.

Thanks for reading this and holding it close to your heart,Treice Backs

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Essence of Kelly

On Terrorism

This morning I'm very tired. My face is puffy and my brain is foggy; I wish it was my period. I miss her; the whining onset of discomfort in the pelvis, the constant managing of products and underwear, the plump deep red droplets in toilet water - the deluge.
I met her when I was 14. She taught me so much and she gave me Max. When she died, she took with her all of my unborn children; a true terrorist. But it was the cancer who started it all, the caner who gave the orders.

Thank God we got Max before that cancer started silencing ovaries and imbuing grief in everything gold!
This is my second diagnosis. Everyday I think about the first time I was diagnosed and how very, very different it was. By the end of my treatment; by the time I was told I was cancer free, I had post traumatic stress syndrome and had vowed to teach the ignorant about cancer.
The first time around was different in many ways; including the way I was responded to. People said things like "cervical cancer? doesn't everyone get that?" or "cervical cancer? is that about lifestyle?" or my favourite, "cervical cancer? oh that, well they just give you a hysterectomy and then it's gone." I chose to teach instead of resent, I think everyone preferred it that way; but man, did those comments dart and hurt and shock. I suppose, in every convoluted and painful scenario, a little tact goes a long way. But like I said before, it's more natural this way - this has got the verisimilitude of book studied in Lit class.

In my last series of treatments, I had essentially nine, count them - 9 doctors appointments a week for 10 weeks. 5 Radiation appointments a week, 1 chemo appointment a week, 1 blood lab a week, 1 radiation follow up a week, 1 chemo follow up. I worked and took care of my baby and my husband and I really don't recall not performing well.

It was during this first series of treatments, that I learned this was my battle; that I was on my own and only I could fight it; in a lonely kind of way. I was surprised at how many people forgot I was going through that. The phone would ring and I'd say hey and then off and running into a conversation that didn't have the word cancer or treatment in it. Most people didn't know what to say to person who appeared to be together. And for some reason, it wasn't "really" cancer. The odds were good, it was mostly always curable. I remember a friend of mine told me she wished I'd break down more often so she could feel like she was helping!

It's different now, everyone is right here and very close. That scares me.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Screaming Underwater

My Father called me at work to tell me he had cancer. He was given a prognosis of 6 months. I remember the elevator ride; the falling vertigo from within it, and then emerging on to Georgia Street, deaf. There was a sea of passerby and transport on the street, all silent, and blurry and in slow motion like we were underwater.

I have the misfortune of knowing what it feels like to have had a loved one diagonosed and then killed by cancer. And now, I have the grave misfortune of knowing how he felt in each of the minutes, hours and days after his prognosis.

My friends and family, and even my acquaintances, need to figure out what part of this cancer is about them, then they need to deal with it. As for me, it's not too hard to figure out what part of this is about me; and I need to deal with that. Cancer hurts everyone involved; every single one.

For those that have felt the pains of not getting a return phone call or email from me, they need to isolate how it feels to not get called back, how it sends them into doubt about who they are and what they said, and then they need to multiply that feeling by a billion; that's the measure of pain for what I've been feelilng; it disables me.

Someone asked me if it's okay to cry around me. I like people who hear sad stories and cry; my psychiatrist even cried when I told her the facts! If no one that I know was crying, if no one said the wrong thing and if no one didn't know what to say, it would be an awful lot like the Truman Story, wouldn't it? How bizarre would that feel for me? Everyone smiling and saying the right thing all the time, yuck.

The Anvil on My Head

So I've got this anvil strapped to my head (the cancer), and everyone is telling me that I should exercise more! Hmmm, let's see... The other thing I hear a lot about is staying positive. That's a new title "How to Stay Fit and Stay Positive with an Anvil on Your Head". It's true that many cancer survivors speak to the role of positive thinking in their healing journeys, I don't doubt this. I do doubt however that they're including the first few days and weeks after their diagnosis' in their memories of their fights. For me, I think I need to get used to the weight of the anvil before I can make a promise to be fit and positive. I need to become accustomed to the headaches it brings, the tears, the lack of balance, the pain, the nerves, the fatigue, the shaking, the shortening of the spine, the breathlessness, the stress on my heart, the why me and the unknowns. When this new stressed body emerges, than I can really see what I'm capable of.

I don't like my Oncologist today; I think he should be in Radio.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Stranded Minute

While Britney's on suicide watch, I'm fighting cancer. Maybe Dr. Phil can help.

Since the news on January 3rd, I've spent each minute waiting. I spend 30 seconds of each minute waiting for the next minute; the minute in which the facts will have changed for me. I spend the other 30 seconds of each minute stranded.

I can't seem to process this information; it's like someone's put an anvil on my head and said "here, process this!".

My baby is 18 months old and he is beautiful; I want to stay.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Shower Scour

I try to move, to the shower for example, to focus on the scour, to wash it away; I can't seem to refresh. I've showered and nothing's changed. Usually things change after a shower; like you're ready to go or get going, get moving; can't move.