Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas Miracles

I want everyone to know that my adopt-a-family turned out to be a HUGE success.  It brought tears to my eyes when I barely had enough room in my Subaru Forester for everything.  I would not have been able to purchase everything for the family of 4 without the support of everyone who donated money and gifts to make my Christmas wish come true.  This is the best Christmas gift knowing that on Christmas morning this mom, after fleeing an abusive and dangerous relationship, has something, actually many things, to place under a Christmas tree for her 3 children. Thank you, thank you, thank you.  I feel so lucky to be surrounded by a community of generous and caring people.  This year, with Christmas only a skip away, for the first time I feel at peace and relaxed as the day approaches. Usually by this time I've snapped myself into a stress ball trying to make sure I have enough Christmas gifts and the right Christmas gifts for everyone that I'm wishing for an Apocalypse so it can all be over.  But this year it is only about the parts of Christmas I love, a holiday that brings family and old friends together over sparkly blinking lights, eggnog, the smell of evergreens, holiday cooking and of course Jesus.  As most of you know, I do not identify myself with any religion at this time, but I do believe Jesus was a remarkable man of his time and he deserves to be recognized for his social justice efforts, especially with women and the sick.  And since I am a woman and sick, I have caught myself thinking about him more. Even though I am going through the most difficult challenge of my life thus far, I feel like I've had my own mini Christmas miracles in the past few weeks.

On the same day of my fourth AC treatment, I had an appointment with my surgeon to assess my tumor.  Since my tumor is surface level, right under the skin, I can feel it.  That's the reason why I found I had breast cancer, if it hadn't been in that spot, I would have never had known or even suspected.  When I found it, I remember thinking it felt like a smooth, flat river stone about the size of a quarter embedded under my skin.  According to the internet, it had none of the characteristics of a malignant tumor such a rough a texture with no clear margins, my tumor was smooth and defined.  Apparently my doctors in the Philippines surfed the same websites I did as I was repeatedly told it didn't feel like a malignant tumor and plus they added I was was too young to have cancer, so that's why a biopsy didn't occur over there. During the first few week of my chemotherapy, I was afraid to touch my tumor..  I was afraid of disappointment.  I was afraid to find out the chemotherapy that made me terribly sick for 5 days straight wasn't working.  I couldn't handle that disappointment, so I chose to ignore my tumor.  Then as the days approached to meet with my surgeon, people started to ask me if I thought it had shrunk and so I knew it was time to face my fear and so I reconnected with my tumor a couple of days before the assessment.  I was skeptical to feel that it was smaller.  I told myself, "ok, this could be your mind playing tricks on you."  I had been doing everything right and I knew with all the chemotherapy, mistletoe (mistletoe is the most widely used unconventional treatment used in Europe with 60% of cancer patients in Germany are using it), healing meditation, supplements and vitamins that if there wasn't any positive change, it would crush me.  Masses of people have been praying for me, sending me wishful thoughts and encouraging me to stay positive. All this hard work laid upon me from others and if this tumor had grown or stayed the same, I'm not sure I would be able to find the will or strength to continue to put my body under such assault with chemotherapy.

The day for the assessment I had just had my fourth AC treatment hours before and so I was in a bit of a chemo haze when I met with the surgeon.  He set out to find my tumor and it turned out to a be a bit of a challenge for him.  The tumor has shrunk so much that he had a hard time finding it and the reason he was able to find what was left of it was because when they biopsied it, the left a little metal marker in it's place.  It has shrunk to the point where it is almost completely dissolved  this only after 3 treatments (out of a total of 8) because 4th one has yet to have to time work.  My infected lymph nodes are also considerably smaller. We were all amazed, even my surgeon was amazed. Please keep all those prayers and positive vibes coming and I will continue to take my supplements, chemo and do my meditation. That so far has been the best day of my cancer journey, mostly  because of the great news I received, but also because that day I had my LAST AC treatment! I have gotten over the worst part of my cancer journey.  I had my first Taxol chemotherapy treatment on Monday and it is certainly a cake walk compared to the other one. This treatment doesn't make me sick to my stomach and anything is easier without that.  The taxol makes me really tired at times and causes nerve pain for a few days, but I'll take that any day over nausea and vomiting.  But all this good news I had a wake up call mixed in with it.

Since I am so young, and it is unusual that I have cancer at my age, I was tested for the BRCA gene mutation (often referred to as the breast cancer gene) and tested positive for BRCA 2 gene mutation.  Those of you who know my family know that there is absolutely no history of breast cancer in my family, I am the first one.  What none of us knew before was BRCA 2 mutation is also responsible for causing prostate cancer, ovarian cancer and ocular melanoma, all cancers that have occurred on my father's side of the family. What this means for my future is I must follow screening plan to monitor for new cancers.  Having this gene mutation means I have a 50% chance of getting a new breast cancer (on top of worrying about a reoccurance of the one I currently have) and a 25% chance of getting ovarian cancer.  Some of you must be wondering that with these odds, I'd probably get a double mastectomy and a hysterectomy,  but those of you who know me well know I don't often follow conventional methods and this time my conventional doctors actually agree with me.  I've decided to keep my breasts and my doctors are pretty confident with yearly MRIs, mammograms and sonograms they would be able to detect any new cancer early, meaning I would not have to do chemotherapy again. If I get a new cancer, then that might be the time I would opt for a mastectomy  but I believe the more I can keep my body with it's original parts to better my body will function and the better I will feel as a woman.  I am, however, considering removal of my fallopian tubes, just considering and I have not made any decisions on that front because as I said before, the more I keep my original parts the better.  The reason I am considering it is because some studies have shown that often times ovarian cancer with BRCA gene mutation starts in the fallopian tubes, but the study was only done on women carrying the BRCA 1 mutation, not BRCA 2 mutation, so I am hesitant, there isn't much information about BRCA 2 mutation and ovarian cancer starting in the fallopian tubes.  I've never intended on having children biologically, so I know I won't miss those tubes.   I started to contemplate adoption as a child and now that I have lived in places where I've had to step over sleeping infants swaddled in the arms of another street child on the sidewalk, I could never convince myself to bring another child into this world with the imprints of these parent-less street children so vividly burned into my mind.  When (and if) it is time for me to have children, I will undoubtedly adopt.  

1 comment:

  1. I was glad to help! SO happy to hear tumor is shrinking!! Merry Christmas!!