No matter where you are
There is always beauty in the delicate unfurling of the morning as
It and its inhabitants come to life for the day.
A chair scrapes on the floor upstairs,
An electric bed adjusts,
An IV pump sounds,
A shade gets lifted to see the twinkling city.
A soft voice enters the room,
Two pills in a plastic cup down the hatch without disturbing a keystroke.
Vital signs are taken, the velcro cuff rips.
Vials of blood from my port,
The soft tapping of the tubes as the tech manipulates them deftly in one hand to keep refilling constant.
An IV pole whines like a morning toddler standing in her crib, anxious for first attention of the day.
Breakfast orders placed.
Young doctors starts to trickle in to find out how each patient’s night went.
And then some of the real business of the day starts.
Decisions made each day about life and death.
Who has surgery today,
Or a chemo change,
Some will go home, some will not be ready.
News will be given.
Each person has a life unfolding here today. But remember it is a life.
Not a diagnosis, not a body part.
But just as the tide goes in and out,
Gives and takes,
So does metastatic breast cancer.
It progresses, taking more,
You hopefully have an arrows left in the quiver to try.
You tame it back and do the dance again. And again.
Leapfrog through treatments trying to stay one step ahead.
There is always adjustment.
It is a shifting target. You’d best be on your toes.
I am at the beginning of what treatments are available for me.
Don’t you count me out yet. Far from it.
Just because this disease can’t be cured doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of life left in me; there is still so much for me to do.
I am living with cancer.
I want to count the days until I can be home and me again. But we do not know exactly how many are left. Getting closer I hope.
When I get back home it will be a different me, but that is not the point.
This is part of metastatic breast cancer and now I’ve had my first introduction.
It’s been 15 months since I received my diagnosis.
This is the first time I’m needing any type of radiation.
I will have to pull out some more aggressive weapons in chemotherapy options.
She and I took this photo last night in my room as we talked about what the treatment plan will be for this week to get me out of the hospital. Once we have a short term plan then we will know what the next few months will look like. There is defiance in setting out on a new path.
The first step should be a confident one, not a toe dip into the shallow end.
For now the hospital is where I need to be as we finish evaluating exactly where the cancer is how to best target it. Additionally, we are still are fine-tuning pain control via the pump. It is a process to convert from using IV pain medication (rapid and adjustable help) to oral ones. The excruciating pain that comes from the tumors in my hips and spine demands serious pain management until we can allow time for the effects of radiation and chemo to settle in. That’s been a main focus. The pain will get worse before it gets better in those spots it seems. Radiation pain will precede improvement in many cases like mine.
The discovery in the past two weeks of more metastases was a curveball. But it’s standard practice for metastatic breast cancer. Totally typical.
I have quickly come to care for the people who work on the floor. There is so much care and assistance and tenderness every day. I look forward to sharing some of those stories in the weeks and months ahead. I could not be more grateful for the daily affection mixed in seamlessly with medical care.
Each room has a story.
My room has smiles and laughs and love. It has tears and anger and bewilderment. It has every part of life.
As I attack the cancer cells in my body I must always search for ways to bridge to the outside world. My family and friends have made that easy. They are my heart and soul. The supporters I have online help so much too. Your words of compassion and care keep me going and remind me why what I’m doing is so important. Using the time I have now while I am able to be functional is precisely the point… continue to give those too weak or unable to share the true experience of daily life with this disease a voice. To teach, to enlighten, to share, to support, to fundraise for research… and to always honor those who have died.
As always I could not do any of this without my oncologist Dr. Chau Dang. I love this photo we took last night in my room.
There’s always so much more to say. But I’ve got some time to do that.
So for now, my dad is here for a visit and I’m going to go have a cup of coffee with him… thanks again for the support I receive from so many of you. You know how much I treasure it: it’s my beauty.
Find a bit of beauty in the world today. Share it. If you can’t find it, create it. Some days this may be hard to do. Persevere.