Thursday, September 1, 2011

Turn that Frown Upside Down

I'm sure we all have our moments and days where the bad outweigh the good and the dark overshadows the light.  That has been my week this week and I can't seem to figure out exactly what is going on or how to snap out of it.  But, Labor Day weekend is coming up and that means it's the last weekend of sunshine and boats and water and I am going to force myself to enjoy it.

Chemo on Monday was the same - nothing new to share.  While I was at chemo, I asked for my results from the echocardiogram I had last week.  I was disappointed to hear that the results were the same - my ejection fraction remains at 40.  Had I been in more of an optimistic state of mind, I would have celebrated that my EJ hadn't gone down any further.  But I was frustrated and upset that on top of treating the cancer, I also have to treat heart damage.  I had talked with my dad about how the heart is a muscle and it seems like you can repair a muscle when there is damage (this is now a conversation about medicine taking place between two non-MD's).  Even on my tired days, I have been trying to just walk a little bit, do one of my workout DVDs or get to the gym. I'm committed to fixing my heart so I don't have to deal with that in the long-term but as of now, it seems like it is another obstacle to overcome.

I am always really tired on chemo-afternoons because they give me so many pre-drugs that make me tired.  I did my zombie-thing where I stayed on my bed most of the afternoon and was pretty much in a daze.  Yet, by the time bedtime rolls around, I can't sleep a wink.  This is when the steroids from the day kick in.  I made Evan's bottles, folded the laundry, ironed a little bit, signed up for some pin-board thing on the Internet, tried to figure out how to use Twitter, fed Evan, watched RHONJ, Giuliana and Bill, and then finally settled down for the night with some Ambien and Ativan around 4:45 am. I woke up at 7:30 am after hearing Brian and the boys but just couldn't get myself going again.  It was one of those days where I was just sad.  I am sad that my fuzzy hair is falling out again and I am going back to being bald again.  You wouldn't think losing fuzzy hair would be as bad as losing long hair but it just feels like it's going to be FOREVER before I'm back to normal.  I was sad because my maternity leave has been kind of rough.  It hasn't been about me bonding with Evan.  It's been about me bouncing from one side effect to the next and getting through treatment one week to the next.  Now, I am 12 days away from going back to work and I am very anxious about it.  I am anxious that my chemo-brain has left me incompetent and dumb.  I am anxious about trying to get back into work and making an impact before I have to go out for surgery in October.  I am sad because sometimes I get tired of fighting.  I long for the days of being a normal 30-year old again, where my biggest decision was what plans to make for the weekend or what to do to entertain the boys on a rainy afternoon.  I had a really big talk with Brian and my mom about my treatment plans going forward.  After surgery, I am scheduled for radiation five days a week.  After I finish my Herceptin (which will be in June 2012), I am scheduled to be on Tamoxifen for five years.  Tamoxifen is an estrogen-blocking drug which has the capability to throw me into early menopause and obviously would disable my ability to get pregnant.  Tamoxifen comes with a lot of side effects, including high liver and ovarian cancer rates.  And on Tuesday night, when I'm tired and overwhelmed, my resolve to take all of this on diminishes.  Fighting starts to feel like a burden.  People taking care of me starts to feel like a burden.  My mom and Meghan left Fenton early on Sunday to come over and help me with Evan because I was so overwhelmed from the weekend.  It's hard to constantly have everyone in my life make arrangements for me and accommodate me because I'm not the same independent person I was six months ago. 

I know this is a downer post. It took me a while to figure out if and how I wanted to share what a bad week looked like for me.  I try very hard to stay positive and optimistic and be grateful for all that I have.  But sometimes, the challenges get the better of me and it's a few days of crying it out before I can try to get my head back in the game.  I am making the decision that today I will be back in the game...but if you see me and I have a few tears in my eyes, just know that I am fighting against my heart this week, along with the cancer.


  1. Erin, this isn't a "downer post", but an honest and raw reflection of what you're feeling as you fight this battle. It's also a signal to your friends, family and loved ones that we need to step up and supply the energy and support to help get through this. Let's face it, from one view you've been dealt a pretty lousy hand right(cancer), from another you've won the lottery(Evan). All of us will help you deal with the first, and be there to enjoy the second.

    Love Dad

  2. hey erin - great post. in the words of destiny's child, you're a SURVIVOR. seriously you should blast that song every morning when you wake up and shake your booty to it. you are an inspiration to everyone. especially other mommies out there on the internets who are going through the same thing, and feeling the same emotions you are. thanks for sharing your stories.