Today was the last day before Christmas break. Yep, school's out for 2 whole weeks! What on Earth will we do? I'm thinking, sleeping in, snuggling on the couch, and eating our hearts out with all the goodness around sounds pretty darn good to me.
Oh, and I guess we'll celebrate Christmas, too. :-) My kids are 6 and 9, and mostly still believe. Personally, I hope they try for a very long time to make me think they're believers, because it's all so much fun!
I got the best Christmas present ever yesterday. I had my regular 6 month check up with my oncologist. Lovely lady, very smart and about my age, so we get along smashingly. Anyhoo, we did the blood work (which I had to go in twice for, with 4 pokes total!) and the clinical exam (you know, the part where you strip and they feel you up a bit) and then got to sit down and talk about the state of things. Blood work=normal. Clinical exam=normal. My complaint of being exhausted=normal with 2 small kiddos and tons of volunteer work. She doesn't have the magic bullet for weight loss yet, but I guess I'll give her a pass on that one. :-)
At this point in the visit, I always start asking tons of questions about this drug or that treatment or this test, and whether or not I should have had in the past or have it now. (Does any of this sound familiar, or am I just a nut?) Any breast cancer patient worth her salt counts down the days until her 5 year cancer free anniversary (or cancerversary, for those of us on YSC). Mine is due this summer. So, we started talking recurrence risks, etc. Turns out, for my particular type of breast cancer, the highest risk of recurrence has already passed me by! It helped that I had a bilateral mastectomy and all those horrible chemo drugs and radiation. So, on the bell curve, I'm on the tail, and that tail has a recurrence risk of 2-5%.
Not only that, but those yearly MRI's I've been forking out so much money for? Turns out they really don't do me much good anymore, and she didn't think I needed them. At least not on a yearly basis.
At this point, I'm seeing myself doing the hula on Hawaii with all that extra cash I'll have in my pocket. :-) Not really, but those darned things are so expensive! And now that I'm on an individual policy, those costs really add up. Yep, I was feeling pretty darn euphoric. A hug and a Merry Christmas, and I'm out the door.
On my way out, I shared the elevator with two lovely ladies who had just finished their appointment with my oncologist's partner. They were both older, but I assumed the older of the 2 was the one in treatment. Oh no! The younger one was. (Young being relative, as she had to be in her 60's.) She looked just like I looked when I first started this whole crazy rollercoaster ride-- nervous, worried, tired, confused.
We started talking on the way down. She had just completed her first chemo treatment last week. I asked her if she'd noticed her hair falling out yet, and she hadn't. The look in her eyes was one of such sadness. I remember that oh so well. Losing your hair is the surest sign that you are sick, whether you feel sick or not. It's such a defeat, or at least it felt that way to me. I told her to shave her head as soon as it started to fall out, and to make a mohawk before she shaves it all. That image made her smile, and it made my day. I swear, if I could spend my day talking to newly diagnosed women, listen to their fears and concerns, and help them understand that the journey is filled with sorrows and joy, and that they will get through it, I would be a happy camper.
I left the office knowing I'd probably never see that woman again. I can only hope that seeing someone who's gone through it and come out the other side healthy, happy, and strong will make her believe she will do it, too.
Happy Holidays to you and yours. May your journey bring you more joy than sorrows, and more strength than you knew you had.