Saturday, October 29, 2011

It's Always Something New

It has been hard to come back and write in my blog this week. Everyday is a different emotion, different feeling, different level of pain and different level of optimism. I'm not sure if this is the life of a cancer patient or just the life of one in treatment.

As I mentioned before, my recovery has been a bit more intense than I anticipated. I wasn't expecting the level of pain in certain areas and the fatigue that would accompany it. My red blood cell count is the lowest it has been (8.9); they do transfusions at level 8.0. That makes me particularly tired throughout the day. It is frustrating because I will have a good day when I am able to run out and do a few errands and then pay for it the next day by having to to take 2-3 hour naps.

I think this week has really highlighted my fear and anxiety for some reason. I associate this with not feeling as energetic or optimistic as I normally do. Even though I had a positive path report, what if the tiny bit of cancer that is in my lymph nodes starts spreading? What happens if at my scheduled scan in three months the spots on my lungs turn out to be something? What if I am one of those unique cases where everything seemed shiny and happy and in six months I find out it's eating through my bones and liver? Because of the current pain when I sleep, and my inability to sleep on my back all night, these are the thoughts that keep me up at night.

I know there are a lot of prayers being said and words of encouragement being sent my way. And I truly appreciate them. But sometimes, I have to look at reality. I was diagnosed at 29. There is no history in my family. My cancer is fueled by estrogen in my system. This is probably TMI, but today, for the first time since having Evan, I got my period. That means that the chemo put my estrogen on hold; now chemo is over and my body is regulating itself. Estrogen is sourcing through my body - does that mean my cancer is too? 

And then, every now and then, I think about how this isn't fair. Of course life isn't fair, but I had some good plans for myself. I tried to put other people first and be thoughtful. I thought I could be the wonderful duo of working woman and super mom. Make play-dough at night and give presentations to the Regional Executives in the morning. Puree vegetables for my baby and dine at fancy restaurants with colleagues. Work hard and be able to spend time with my wonderful family on fabulous vacations. Now I have to recognize the thought in my head: what happens if  I'm not here? What will happen to my beautiful baby boy? Will he know how much I wanted him and loved him as soon as I saw that positive pregnancy test? Will he know that I dream for my relationship with him to be as close as my relationship is to my mom? That he grows up with two loving siblings the way that Brian and I both did? If I die within my five years to freedom (when you are considered in remission) will Brian be able to cope and move on? Will my parents embrace my brother and sister instead of shutting down emotionally? Because sometimes that happens. What will I have learned from all of this? Because I don't know that I've been embracing the moment and living life to the fullest since my March diagnosis. I've been struggling and I've been fighting and I am so so afraid. I am afraid everyday that this is not the end of the road but only the beginning. When does the grieving and anger and bargaining really end, so I can move on to acceptance and loving every minute I have?  And when my mind is finally ready to embrace and love, will my body be on board, or already moving on to Stage 4?

I hear from my doctors and nurses that they can always count on me to have a smile on my face.  I hear from friends and family that I seem to be taking all of this in stride.  But this week, when I finally broke down to my mom (and Brian sees this on a weekly basis at night) she asked why I didn't show this side more.  And again, it's because of fear.  Fear that if I'm not optimistic, I will turn in to a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Fear that if I voice my real concerns, I will hear, "You need a good attitude".  Fear that I will just bring all of my supporters around me down and make them worry too.  Plus, no one really likes to be around Negative Nancy.

So, this is as honest as it gets.  And this is where my head is.  Tomorrow we are celebrating Cohen's 6th birthday (it is actually on Wednesday) and then Monday I am going to watch the Halloween parade at school and volunteer at the Halloween party.  I asked for the lightweight job, so I think I'm handing out donuts.  Then I will come home and watch Dr. Gavin, Zombie Cohen and Duckie Evan get all dressed up for their big night out.  This week will be a better week, although I am nervous for my radiation consultation on Friday.  Though I did hear you get tattoos - something I've yet to do. 

Will post our Halloween pictures this week!


  1. HOPE a tiny word that holds a lot of promise.
    FAITH another small word that holds even more potential. TRUST! Erin trust that the doctors did their job and did it well. Trust that the chemo did what it was supposed to do. Trust that God has much in store for you.
    Faith, Hope, Love...none of these can truly exist without trust. Believe in your self Erin. You are truly amazing.

  2. Erin, I just found your blog through the site. I seriously could have written this post. Well, not the surgery part as I am still in the beginning stages of treatment, but the part at the end, the part about being honest about your feelings. I too have been afraid to feel those things, to think those things, for fear of "self-fulfilling prophecy". It's like you took the words out of my mouth, or rather, the thoughts out of my head as I have not really been able to speak them aloud either.

    I want to thank you for sharing your truth. I know it must have been scary to be so transparent about those feelings, but you let me know that I am not alone in having the same thoughts. So thank you, thank you so much for that.

    It's also great to see how well you are doing now as I will be following a similar treatment plan/ schedule. Again, thank you.