A breast cancer survivor shares her experiences with the BRCA gene.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Thrill of It All

I see no need to ever ride a roller coaster again. Nor try bungy-jumping, skydiving or rappelling. No extreme sport can equal the death-defying thrill of being a cancer survivor.

UP...you have cancer...DOWN...treatment arrested it...UP...you have the BRCA gene...DOWN...surgery will prevent reccurence...UP...there's a questionable area on your MRI scan...DOWN...the followup MRI shows no cancer growth...UP...your blood test shows elevated markers...DOWN...your blood test is normal again.

It's the roller coaster hell of WHAT IF? that happens with every checkup, every blood test and every scan. 

Having to face the inevitable can be Good...you take nothing for granted and, hopefully, live each day to its fullest...and Bad...you worry that your life may be cut off sooner than later. 

After all the up's and down's of my ride with cancer, and I'd like to take a breather for a while.  Yesterday, I found out my markers were within normal range again.  Hurrah!  When I received the good news at the doctor's office, I broke down and cried. 

Waiting over a week for results of my latest blood test put me on edge.  Okay, over the edge.  On the surface, I thought I was doing fine, but my husband and parents noticed I was even more wired than normal.  Which says a lot, since I'm Type-A. 

I didn't tell them for the better part of a week, but finally relented when I kept snapping at everyone over the weekend.  Mom told me that harboring all this anxiety and not sharing my fears with others only makes it worse.  Talking about it with a few safe people can help get me through rough emotional times like these. 

Agreed.  But, the question is, do you drag your loved ones onto the roller coaster with you since it's a continual ride for the rest of your life?  This has been my dilema since being first diagnosed.  Why put my husband and parents through unnecessary worrying?

On the other hand, does "protecting them" by not allowing them to live through this experience really help them and me?

I don't know.  And until I resolve this issue, I can't promise that I'll handle it differently the next time.

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Quest for Less Stress

I hate when someone tells me not to be stressed or I'll get cancer.  That sends me over the edge, since they're saying that if cancer returns, then I'm to blame.  Just what a cancer survivor needs -- Guilt.  And saying that to a Type-A, high-strung personality is pretty much telling me to change who I am.  Or change my life.

To eliminate stress in my life, I would need to (1.) quit my job, (2.) end my friendships, (3.) ignore my husband and family, (4.) stop driving altogether, (5.) cancel my New York Times subscription, (6.) stay in bed all day. Essentially, quit living. 

Then, I get a call from my oncologist who tells me that I have elevated "markers" (indicating a possibility of cancer cell growth) from my visit a week ago...and you tell me NOT to be STRESSED?!

I ask you: What NORMAL human being wouldn't be stressed by all that?  We all live crazy lives and then ADD CANCER to the mix and, PRESTO!, you have my life.

So, off I went to the oncologist's office yesterday for more lab work (big needle in little veins drawing lots of blood).  

And now, the waiting game begins.  One week until I find out the results.  And you tell me to not be stressed.