Cancer sucks... just like so many other things we are forced to go through. Life is hard. When it gets hard, that's when we find out what we're really made of. All of our strengths and weaknesses are revealed. We make choices. Some good. Some bad. All choices made have an effect on those who love us. Sometimes relationships are lost but sometimes relationships are established in the most unexpected places. When I first began this journey, I didn't feel a need to have a relationship with other women who have been through cancer... survivors. I didn't understand the need for a relationship with other women who "understand" until I actually connected with women who do. I have been so blessed by the survivors who were already a part of my life and by those who have come into my life because I am now fighting this battle. These are amazing women... my mentor and retired women's pastor of my church, my husband's cousin (who I have only met in person one time 11 years ago), two women from my church, a woman who started following my blog after reading the article on me in the local paper. And then there's this group of women who have been through and are going through treatment for cancer while pregnant. These women are like my little cancer clique. I've never met any of them in person. We are only friends through Facebook but I feel so bonded with them and invested in their lives and the lives of their precious little miracle babies. They also help me feel sane. Knowing that they are experiencing the same thoughts and emotions that I do has saved me from feeling completely isolated. I also have a greater appreciation for my friendships that have nothing to do with cancer. I have always loved and appreciated my friends but having limited interaction with my friends over the last several months has brought me to a place of deeper appreciation. After Christmas my friend Ember came into town to visit her family. While she was here we went out for a beer. It felt like it had been forever since I had gone out and just enjoyed the company of a friend. It wasn't about cancer. It was about friends getting together just because we're friends and that's it. It was so nice. Last weekend I met up with two other friends at the park with the kids. We just stood there and talked while the kids played. It was such a normal thing to do and it was so enjoyable. It's been so long since I've done normal things. It has made me remember how much joy friendships bring me.
I've realized that I've had my head in the sand a little bit through this process. I haven't paid attention to some of the details of my cancer. There is so much information and at first it all just felt like too much to process. Yesterday I got out the copy of my pathology report because I learned something new. Not only is there a stage for cancer, there is a grade too. Holy cow... I'm 9 months into this mess and didn't know that! I also don't even know officially what stage I am. According to my pathology report, I believe I am (was) stage 2b grade 2. Tumor size 4.2 cm with 2 of 3 lymph nodes positive. I could possibly be a more advanced stage due to the fact that there was skin involvement. I will be asking more questions at my appointment this morning just so I have a definitive answer.
After today I have only 3 more treatments left. I can't wait to be finished with chemo. The side effects are getting really old. I've had a continuous bloody nose for two weeks now. It's not a lot of blood but just a slow seeping that has to be addressed every 15 to 30 minutes. I know... disgusting, right? I think I've only had a bloody nose once or twice in my life before this. The other side effects are still the same. Sores in mouth, sore throat, throbbing and weakness in my forearms and shins, and headaches... oh and lets not forget the hair loss. I can't complain too much though. I'm not experiencing the neuropathy in my hands and feet like my sweet friend Sarah who is finishing up with taxol after her pregnancy too. Thinking of her makes me want to remind anyone reading this to please check your breasts. I was 32 when I was diagnosed but Sarah is only 25. Check your breasts. Schedule a mammogram. Do it!