Archive | June 2010

Can I quit cancer?

I was asked tonight (by a woman I met), “So are you cancer free now?”  I’m sure a lot of people wonder that about those of us who have had cancer and the straight up answer is, I hope so!

“No evidence of disease, or NED, is the new ‘remission”.  But there is no cure for cancer and a certain percentage of cancers will recur, and nobody really knows if it will happen to them. Statistics get thrown around, charts and studies would conclude that the odds are in my favor of remaining NED, but there are no guarantees as we would all hope for. Such a guarantee  is just out of reach.  If it were, then I could stop thinking about it on a daily basis and we could all just leave Cancerland behind us.

I woke up the other day and thought to myself, what if I just didn’t talk about breast cancer anymore. What if I stopped going to support groups, stopped visit the oncologist, stopped hanging out with fellow survivors for coffee and lunch dates, WHAT IF I JUST QUIT CANCER?  Maybe THAT is what would get me to move further along up the road. I’ve learned of plenty of people who did just that. They never spoke of it again, and they went on in their lives and stopped identifying themselves as survivors. But then later in the week I was working the volunteer hotline and took a phone call from a woman who has stage 4 breast cancer which has spread to her bones.  She really needed someone. I found it hard to relate to a lot of what she is going through, but then we found the common bond of our faith, and it was there that I realized my BEING here in Cancer is for women like her. Women who need a ray of hope.   A hand of compassion.  There is a sisterhood here that few can understand. I know that when I was in my darkest hour I needed the survivors whom I met and became my friends. I needed the help of those who had gone before me and came out the other side, happy and healthy. I needed them like others need me now and so I guess I won’t be “quiting” cancer anytime soon.

Satisfied

“No change”.

This was the word I received from my oncologist in a phone call today. Last week’s CT scan of my right lung noted no changes (or growth) to the nodule seen in March, and they want to re-scan it again in 6 months. An enlarged lymph node was noted as well. I guess I am suppose to feel relieved….”satisfied”….but somehow I feel, well, in limbo.  Like I am waiting for a bomb to drop. They wouldn’t give me the “all clear”…And maybe this feeling comes from having been through cancer and having a bomb dropped on me once before, without warning, without symptoms, vulnerable and scared.  A post traumatic stress disorder, of sorts.  Always feeling like I must remain on guard. Always on watch. Terrified of it coming back again, terrified of it killing me.  I’ve probably read w-a-y too many stories and heard far too many unfavorable outcomes, and so it’s easy to let myself fear the worst, but then I must remind myself that all too often its not the good outcome stories we hear about or the stories of triumph and survival, and I know there are far more of those than not .  But for the time being I must be satisfied with this result and consider it as my doctor said, “good news”. 🙂  I am taking an oral anti-cancer drug now which is suppose to starve off any lingering cancer cells that might try to grow, and I take this drug for the next 5 years so I am doing everything within my power to stay cancer free.  That is all I can do.  “Give it up to God” what I can’t do, as my son says!  Besides, there’s nothing telling us this that this nodule is cancerous,  unless it starts to grow, and so that is what they keep checking.

This coming weekend that son, Keith, graduates from high school and leaves 2 days later to work at Young Life camp at US Army Camp Darby, Italy, on crew along with a couple hundred other staffers.  We are busy getting him packed up and ready to be away for a month.  Needless to say he is a wee bit excited!

Fathers Day orders poured in last week and I have been busily stamping up my projects and trying to stay afloat! This, plus making plans for Tim’s retirement and booking all of the details for our England/Ireland trip give me little time for fretting! Now to go to a cupcake!

Here is a great song about how I know one can get through trials of any kind. It is called “I Get On My Knees”. It’s called prayer…crying out to the heart of God…take a listen! If you can’t see the embed video, click here . “Cuz I’ve learned in laughter or in pain, how to SURVIVE! I get on my knees!”

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Summertime

Memorial Day weekend behind us, summer has arrived!

Tim and I enjoyed 3 hours kayaking the Occoquan River this weekend, he in his new fishing kayak, and I in mine, along with about a hundred other boaters in and out of the marinas along the mouth of the river where it exits into the Potomac. Note to self : Don’t go boating on Memorial Day weekend near the marinas! Next time we will put in at the river where motorized craft are not permitted. Still, we had a nice time and the sun was bright and warm.

The weekend also involved planting new flowers and veggies, grilling outdoors with 2 of the 4 kids,  and meeting Tim’s cousin and family in downtown D.C. for dinner. I also was able to work on some of the retirement details for Tim’s retirement ceremony which will take place July 2nd.  We have family traveling in from out of state and a party being planned that weekend as well, so this will keep me busy over the next few weeks. Oh, and did I mention we have another graduation in 11 days from now? (Keith – from high school) He was awarded a full Air Force ROTC scholarship last week at his school senior awards ceremony. Woo -hoo! Busy times at the Hutchison house!

My business had a 200+ % increase in May over April, with the graduations, weddings and fathers day orders, so I have hired some outside help to get me through this busy period and keep my sanity.  My friend Julie is able to help with assembly and packaging, and soon shipping for me so that I can concentrate on crafting and marketing.

As for health and such, I am going to be fitted with a TNS unit to help alleviate some of the back numbness I have had for 6 months, caused (we think) by the reconstructive surgery I went through. The physical therapist doesn’t think that the massage and heat therapy is working. While it felt great going through it (I mostly just felt like I was a spa!), not that I would know, by the way – because I have never been to a spa, the numbness would return by the next day. The TNS unit should help to interrupt those blocked nerves and send a different signal to my brain (in theory).

With all the kids home for summer right now, it is sort of like Grand Central Station here, kids coming and going to school and work, and friends in and out all the time…but we wouldn’t have it any other way!

This entry was posted on June 1, 2010. 3 Comments