Friday, August 24, 2012

Its a Lose-Lose -- or is it???

Its been a tough week, I won't lie.  I'm pretty sure my red blood cell count is at rock bottom - we will have it checked Tuesday but until then its a major effort to accomplish the simplest tasks.  Tired doesn't really describe it - its not like I go to sleep at night & wake up in the morning & feel rested.  Taking  a nap would make no difference.  Its a fatigue deep to my bones.  Its the kind of fatigue that makes me lean on the counter to peel potatoes.

I think I've finally reconciled why this is so hard.  I have this constant mental war going on.  I have to make this choice all day every day - choice one is to do what I need & want to do physically like go to work, make dinner, take care of the house, cook breakfast, etc.  The downside of choice one is that I am left so physically drained I can barely function - and I take that out on those around me unfortunately so we all end up miserable!  Not a good situation.

Choice two is to physically take it easy which means basically sitting in my comfy chair on the porch and do nothing.  The downside of choice two is that I end up feeling guilty because I'm not accomplishing what I think I need to!  This doesn't make me take it out on the rest of my family but it does make me feel like I'm not contributing at home or at work.   And I've realized thats where a lot of my self worth comes from.

So, here's the reality.  This feels like a lose lose - and its not something that anything in my life has prepared me for.  But, like my sweet husband told me, I have to play the cards I'm dealt - at least for another month or so until the effects of the final treatment round wear off.  And the cards I'm dealt dictate that I have to accept I cannot get stuff done.  I can't be at meetings at work and in the office 8 hours a day and go to the grocery store and cook dinner and clean up the cat litter and do some laundry and make a full breakfast for the family and make the beds and bake cookies and line the cabinets and all the other stuff I feel obligated to do.  I just physically cannot do it - at least for a while. 

So I'm going to try to force myself to take it easy.  I need enforcers around me - people to remind me that I've committed not to overdo it.  Thats definitely a lasting lesson from my experience with cancer - that I sometimes need to rely on those around me to "make" me do things.

I think a lot of people think that I feel obligated to do so much in a day because I want others to see me as an overachiever.  Its not about that at all - its about me and the satisfaction I get from being able to do more than other people can in a given day.  I've got to let that go.  I'm going to let that go.

So, this is a pretty  introspective post - sorry if its TMI and too deep into my psyche. I'm really going to give it my all to NOT look at this as a lose-lose but rather a win-win. If I take it easy until my counts are better and chemo has worn off then I win because I will probably get better that much faster and my family and friends win because I won't (hopefully) be the wicked witch of the west.  It may mean I have to ask for more help than normal, but I am learning to do that too.

Tomorrow is EB's first triathlon - Kendall is going to taker her & I'll stay here & hang with Eri. EB did great at the first cross country meet of the season yesterday - I was so proud of her.  She did her 2 miles in 18:10 which is 7 minutes faster than her first meet of last season.  I told her, truthfully, that she ran it faster than I ever did even at West Point before I blew out my knee!  It was hot yesterday too which didn't help.  I also met a really special FRA Mom yesterday who has 3 kids ages 10-16 & has Stage 4 breast cancer.  She's grown her hair back but continues her fight with chemo - that seems to be working.  Looking at her, one would never know she was battling cancer - it was a good reminder for me that you never know what someone is dealing with.  I've kind of come to assume that if somebody has hair they aren't battling cancer but that is such a stupid stereotype!  Anyway I hope that EB & Grace (this lady's daughter) can become friends since they have something so big in common.

Eri is absolutely loving Kindergarten.  She has a fabulous, experienced teacher named Mrs Kaufman.  I think Eri would do anything Mrs Kaufman told her to do (why are kids like that with their teachers but not their moms?).  She bought her lunch in the cafeteria for the first time yesterday which was a big milestone.  They are on full days now so its full speed ahead.  I can't wait til she starts reading.

So thats what is going on here!  Next week I have a check up with Dr Holt (the surgeon) on Tuesday & will also have my labs checked.  On Friday I will see Dr Keedy & have labs again to get the go ahead for chemo to start on Sept 3.  Many people have asked me if I'm done with chemo does that mean the cancer is gone. Thats a really good question.  Here's how I think about it - I had a small tumor that was completely removed & had not spread so there is no cancer in me right now.  The fact is that my type of cancer is virtually guaranteed to return if chemo is not done.  So doing the chemo regimen has reduced my chance of recurrence from around 99% to around 30%.  After chemo finishes, my expectation is that I will have a CT of my chest, abdomen & pelvis in mid-late September.  That will confirm (again) that there is no metastases or new tumors anywhere.  This will be repeated every 3 months for a couple years (the recurrence chances are much higher in the first 2 years so the monitoring is very frequent).  I will also continue to be monitored every 6 months by breast MRI or mammogram as that risk from my family history is still there...  I'm going to try like hell to assume that this isn't coming back & not stress myself out every 3 months when the scans happen.  But human nature is that it will definitely be a stressor.

OK, you're probably tired of reading. Have a wonderful weekend!  If you're looking for me, I will  be on my porch or my couch for most of the weekend...

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