I was diagnosed with cancer four years and 10 months ago, but I knew long before the official diagnosis that something was very wrong. My gut told me, and it was right.
It’s been a little over five years since my gut told me that knot in my left breast was NOT something good.
It was right.
The storm is not over for me. It will never be over, but a week ago today, I saw Dr. O for my six-month checkup and was no evidence of disease…five years after my gut told me to get my ass to Dr. B for the knot in my left breast. It’s funny because last Tuesday, five years ago, is the day I first called Dr. B for an appointment. I was driving on the highway, and I’d made a deal with myself. I would call Dr. B’s office, and if the receptionist answered, I’d make the first available appointment.
There was no answer.
I hung up and smugly thought that meant all was ok.
It was not ok. I knew better than that.
Five years ago, so much about my life changed, and honestly, I didn’t think I’d live to be able to say, “five years later.” But, here I am. Five years later.
I waited until today to post because I had my yearly scan last Tuesday, and for Dr. O, no news is good news. It’s been a week. I would have heard from her office by now, so I’m cautiously believing no news is good news.
On Friday of last week, I went to the Sammons Center for my 6-month infusion of Zometa. Dr. O started me on it three years ago based on results of a clinical trial. Last Friday was meant to be my last, but now there’s more data from that clinical trial. While results are mixed on extended usage of Zometa beyond three years post initial therapy, Dr. O has decided I will stay on Zometa for another five years for a total of eight years of therapy. I agreed because she is Dr. O, and I’m just a 42-year-old woman trying to stay alive to see her kids grow up and to grow old with my husband.
It’s been a hell of a year, this 2020. My dad died in March 2020 on my husband and my uncle’s birthday. His death wasn’t a surprise, but it hurt. My mom has been in terrible health since February 2020, and just when it looks like she’s on the mend, her health goes to hell in a handbasket again. It’s been hard, but there are reminders everywhere that things work out the way they’re meant to do so.
Five years ago, today I attended the funeral for the pastor of my church. I’d left the annual AVID Dallas conference to attend the funeral. For a few days leading up to the funeral, it had been on my heart that where I was really meant to be was back in the classroom. See, two years prior, I had taken an instructional coaching job. I liked it. I know I did good work, but in my heart, I am a teacher. I was struggling with the thought of going back to the classroom. But, as I sat at the funeral, listened to the words, talked to people I’d grown up with, some I had not seen in twenty years, I knew. I went home that day and told my husband I was going to try and find a teaching job. It was nearly July. I didn’t expect to find one, but I was wrong. I found one, my dream job, actually. I was thrilled…so, so happy.
Three weeks after I took that job, I received a preliminary diagnosis of breast cancer. My world turned upside down. My husband had just started a new job. I had just started a new job. My son was seven and going into first grade. My daughter was nine and going into fourth grade. I remember sitting in my car by myself screaming I didn’t want to be a statistic. I didn’t want to be a number. I didn’t want to have cancer. I didn’t want to die. It wasn’t fair. Why me?
Five years later, my husband has a job he loves. I have a job I love. My son is twelve and going into sixth grade. My daughter is fourteen and going into an early college program where she will be both a freshman in high school and a freshman in college. I still don’t want to be a statistic. I still don’t want to be a number. I still don’t want to have cancer. I still don’t want to die. It is never fair, and I still don’t know why it happened to me.
I have good days and some really awful days where the fear of reoccurrence overwhelms me. It’s still not easier. But, I’m here and incredibly grateful for advancements in medicine and amazing doctors and compassionate people.
As awful as 2020 has been, I’m here to see it.
Five years ago, I didn’t think that would happen.