Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Life is measured in months

Who knew that post cancer life was measured in three month increments?  I go thru every day looking forward to the time when it will be measured in six month increments.  Its an interesting psychology & not one I had ever thought about before I had cancer.
I find myself drawn to writing on here around the time of each quarterly check up.  Last Monday was scans & I saw the orthopedic oncologist.  Thursday I saw the sarcoma oncologist.  All was well, thank god, but there is no feeling like that wondering what they will say.  Every quarter is all comes flooding back - just going in the cancer clinic makes me want to vomit - thank goodness I don't have to go by the chemo clinic.  I don't even get off on the 2nd floor where chemo is - I go to great lengths to avoid it.
But sitting in the belly of the beast waiting to see my intelligent, sweet, kind oncologist is absolutely hell on earth for me.  I feel guilty that I'm healthy looking at the other patients, some of whom are very clearly NOT healthy.  I feel thankful that I have, so far, managed to keep my cancer in remission.  I feel happy that I don't have to see the doctors and nurses a couple hundred times in a one year span.  I feel sad knowing that only the sickest of the sick are at Vanderbilt and many won't make it.  Quite the roller coaster.
I always go alone to these check ups and sometimes I wonder why.  I think its so that if there is bad news, I can process and digest it before I have to share it.  One of my biggest fears is having to call Kendall & tell him its back.  I don't even consider this a possibility until its time for one of the check ups - so I measure life in those increments.  In six more months I will be at the two year mark - that means two more sets of scans with clear outcomes & I go to the six month frequency.  My chances of recurrence, while still there, drop dramatically after year 2.
The first quarter of 2014 hasn't been the easiest one ever - but the challenges we are facing at home and work pale in comparison to what I was dealing with at this point 2 years ago.  I always have that as perspective, which is definitely one of the positive side effects of my experience.
A friend told me a couple weeks ago that I need to find a way to use my cancer experience as a positive force in others' lives.  I am hopeful that one day I will be strong enough to do that, but for now its mine - I am not ready to share it because its so personal, so painful, so hard.

In other news from the Musgrove family, my Dad has moved over to Jupiter living in a really nice retirement home near my brother.  His health isn't great - last week he had bypass surgery.  Talk about a double whammy - bypass surgery for Dad & cancer scans for me.  No wonder I was eating donuts last week!  My brother & his family are wonderful - we went & stayed in their beautiful home at Spring Break.  Kendall is great - still running.  The girls are good.  Eriana is crazy & makes us laugh nonstop.  Her parent teacher conference last week was a delight - evidently she is not only funny & entertaining but she is sharp as a razor!  Raising a teenage girl is almost as hard as chemo.  Middle school is a tough gig - I am looking forward to high school!  EB decided to go to Father Ryan High School - a Catholic school near us.  Its larger than her current school & therefore offers more opportunities.  Back to having two kids at two different schools.  Our nanny right now is Dana, whom we all love.  She has 2 little boys who will steal your heart.  She fits in so well with our crazy family and sure does make our lives easier.

The summer will be busy, as always in the Musgrove house.  The girls are in various camps & we are hoping to have our nieces come & stay for a week or so.  We are trying to work in a cruise with my Dad & my brother's family - schedules are so hard though.

Work is good - the housing market hasn't been going great guns in the first quarter between the weather, the issues with transportation, and the fact that our company transitioned to SAP on January 1.  Hasn't been the most fun quarter ever.  But it mostly keeps me out of trouble!

I'm back on the healthy eating & exercise bandwagon.  I've lost a few pounds so far but mostly I'm focused on just eating healthy foods, exercising for enjoyment, and living my life.  The drive & will power I had before cancer has evidently been replaced by something much less effective.

So thats the quarterly update from 938 Oak Valley Lane!

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Thursday, January 30, 2014

I hate cancer

Sitting in the waiting room at Vanderbilt, the "belly of the beast" as I think of it. Just a routine (hopefully) three month check up for me. But even being here makes me nauseous. Looking at all the people waiting to see their doctors and get their labs checked brings back so many memories. Some have physical components like feeling sick or my hands sweating. It's just awful.
Monday is the worst day here when everyone comes to see their doctors and start their chemo which they call "infusions" like that makes it better?  I'm glad I'm not here on a Monday & I make it a point never to schedule Monday appointments. Thursday is a slow day & there is still a line to check in.

At Vanderbilt the chemo room, or "Infusion suite" as it's called, is on the second floor. So is the cafeteria which has a panda express. Still can't eat that food or go on the second floor here. I can't avoid the main clinic for check ups tho. Without fail every time I come here I see fear on every face. It takes different forms, sometimes tears, sometimes sleep, sometimes blank stares. It's all fear though. The providers do their best, they really do but it feels like they are fighting an unending & worse, unwinable battle. Why?

I guess I'm one of the lucky ones. Yes sure cancer has left marks on me - physical ones like scars, weight gain & swelling but the ones that really matter are the emotional and mental ones. You can't see them & most of the time I try not to feel or acknowledge them. But they are undeniable. There is pride that I survived. Fear that it will come back. Anger that I lost a year of my life to this shit. Sadness that I am unable to recover my fitness level. Joy that I learned so much during the journey. Compassion for everyone else touched by this.  I could go on all day with this list but that flies in the face of my suppression strategy.

In an hour I will see the doctor and know what the latest status is for me. In two hours I will be back at work like nothing happened. It's all kinds of jacked up, but it is my life.