|I know this probably doesn’t look like
an evil place to you, but the infusion center felt
like it was the end of the road for my
Blogger’s Note: I am participating in the A to Z Challenge for the month of April. In my last blog post, I mentioned that I had come across this challenge. Actually, I’ve since remembered that I didn’t just stumble on it – my co-worker, Diane, told me about it several weeks ago. I remembered this as I was reading her A and B posts … so maybe you should read them, too, at In My Own Words. Thanks for the suggestion, Diane!
During my nine month blogging absence, I tried to write once or twice. I even started a few blog posts, but I would just get so overwhelmed by what I was writing, I would stop. This is really quite different from my first cancer blogging experience in 2006, when I would just pour my heart into a post really fast and click “publish” before I thought about it very long.
My attitude then was, “people need to know about this.” I felt (still feel) really strongly that our images of cancer are terribly skewed: the beautiful celebrity who goes on the Today Show with smiles and says she is just “feeling so positive”; the advertising for cancer drugs featuring beautiful women with their hair, eyebrows and eyelashes intact; and the pink-filled campaigns that tell us if we just get everyone to get mammograms, we’ll all be cured.
When the second time happened last summer, I did not want to be a poster child for breast cancer activism anymore. I just wanted to pay my bills and take care of my daughter. I wanted a damn life. I did not want to spend my time on cancer. I was really tired of trying to get through to people. Cancer blows. The media sells us a line of shit (well, about a lot of things – perhaps a future “s” blog). We do not spend enough money on cancer research, treatment or prevention in this country. If you don’t know this, you are a freaking idiot. I don’t have time for you. I have to go fix dinner.
Every time I would write, I would get overwhelmed with these “I hate everyone” feelings. I just couldn’t do it. I don’t really hate everyone. I didn’t feel like dealing with that kind of a thought process.
One day, though, I started a blog post while I was sitting in the oncology center waiting for a Lupron shot. Lupron is an ovarian suppression drug. Since I was still a young woman, still menstruating, still had those ovaries pumping me full of estrogen, we had to shut that business down. I have/had estrogen-positive breast cancer and those rotten cancer cells were gobbling up the estrogen and fueling the creation of more cancer cells.
This was the day of a second shot. Andy was with me at the appointment, but I thought I was in a good place. It had been a month since the first shot and I was handling things ok. We were waiting for a long time, so I suggested he go to the library where he could get some work done and wait for me. As I sat in the infusion area, I wrote:
A string of young, bald people are walking by. Fridays must be for young adults in the infusion center. I’m fighting the urge to run. [Seeing all of these otherwise healthy-looking young adults being bald was bringing back too many memories. I wanted out of there.] I didn’t realize it would be like this today. I shouldn’t have allowed – no, suggested – my idea – that Andy to go to the library. This sucks on multiple levels. At my oncology visit last month, the news was the very best it could be, under the circumstances. Cancer in two nodes. (Bigger than I had hoped.) HER2 negative. Treatment would consist of radiation, ovarian suppression and a drug called an aromatase inhibitor. No additional chemo, thankfully, for now. (I had chemo in 2006.) Radiation scares me, but it’s completely necessary given the conditions. Ovarian suppression is the one, though, that just blows up my heart and kills my self-esteem.
A month earlier, on the day of my first Lupron shot, I had walked across the beautiful indoor bridge connecting the oncology rooms to the infusion center with a growing feeling of dread. Each step and my legs got heavier until I reached the other side and slowly moved into a corner to hide. I couldn’t go any further and I couldn’t stop crying to the point of hyperventilating. This was it. A few more feet and I would get the shot that marked the end of my hopes of having more babies.
Saddest day ever.
You see, I knew what ovarian suppression after a second time with cancer meant – the only outcome of ovarian suppression at age 40. My doctor hadn’t talked to me about it that day – other than the need for immediate suppression. But I knew.
Tamoxifen – the drug I was on for five years after chemo and the surgeries – had failed me. The cancer had resisted it. With a first time ER+ cancer, you can get past it with your ovaries. They will try tamoxifen first. It’s the only drug on the market for pre-menopausal breast cancer patients. But if you fail tamoxifen, well, kids, you enter a remedial breast cancer drug routine and your ovaries don’t get to go with you.
He didn’t have to say it. It was ovarian suppression that day, but in order to be on any other cancer drug, I was going to have to be ovarian suppressed long-term – and monthly shots don’t make sense at age 40 – particularly since with estrogen-positive cancer twice, no doctor was going to say I should have another baby. I was going to have to have the ovaries removed, just as soon as time would allow it.
So, I practically crawled to the infusion center, as my legs had decided to stop working. Andy hid with me in the corner and patted my back until I stopped crying and we could venture into the infusion waiting area.
Ovarian suppression is the one, though, that just blows up my heart and kills my self-esteem.
My heart broke into a million pieces that day. Even eight months after that shot, even though I know it’s physically and financially impossible, I want babies so much. It hurts to talk about it.
This is one area where it’s really hard to keep my spirits up. I just keep hoping that, with time, these feelings will go away. I had high hopes the ovary removal and hormone plummet would kill those feelings, but it didn’t work. It’s the same as always. I just try not to think about it.