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Saving My Life

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‘People don’t know how the people who love them save their lives.’
Robin Quivers

It’s ovarian cancer awareness month.

I’ve been meaning to write a post about this. I kept putting it off. I don’t quite know why. I think, upon reflection, that I just don’t want to admit that this cancer might still kill me. That I’m not ever going to be able to ‘go back’. I don’t want to give it power over me. I don’t want it to be a chronic condition. I want this to end. Now. Today.

Today.

Today I have my big appointment. It’s hard, a lot of you know how hard it was, to admit that I needed help. More help than I was getting, simply not recognizing the emotional drain on my family and caregivers. The trips to chemotherapy every week. The bad news, the good news, rush hour traffic, putting off trips and vacations, the lack of money and healthy food, hiding things from me, from themselves, worrying, wondering, being scared and wanting to scream with frustration. The emotional drain is exhausting.

I try to keep things upbeat. I have tried to hide what I feel because I thought I understood how hard it was on my caregivers. They are not recognized. The person with cancer gets all the attention. Sometimes ,it seems, by everyone. I just want to say, I know now. I know what has been given to me. Now I know.

Those of you who have followed this blog from the beginning know how scared I was. How confused and beaten down by my emotions I was. I started this blog because I really didn’t know how to speak to my family and friends about my cancer diagnosis.

That is where I found you.

Yes, you. You wonderful supportive people from everywhere around the globe who have taken a moment out of some crazy busy schedules to encourage and support me. My caregivers here who helped me learn to speak about what happened to me. Who just listened and let me have my meltdowns and walked me through some of the hardest days of my life.

Losing my kittens. Losing my dog. The betrayal and accusations recently by my niece, which I am still struggling with. The cancer. The chemo. The fear of death. The pity I felt for my mother struggling to make ends meet, to keep abreast of the paperwork, to get me to chemotherapy every week. My sister, my beautiful sister, who is terrified of sickness and doctors and who lived every moment with my diagnosis. Trying to overcome her fears, overcome her fear of losing me. Of losing another loved one. As if what she went through in 2008 wasn’t enough to break her. She had to go through this too.

My brothers and their wives all trying in their own separate ways to support me from so far away. To talk to their children, their daughters especially, who are condemned to carry this cancer marker all their lives. Who will have to be extra vigilant because of it.

My cousin who has gone through this, who lost so much, lost a brother and a friend. Had her own diagnosis and fought like a tiger to win. And won.

My uncles and aunts who knew, I never understood how well, what it was to see a member of your own branch, torn away by the storm, so young and vibrant, so many chances to grow and learn from mistakes, to have that chance ripped away. The chance to see your children grow up, to see your brother again, your father, your mother.

It’s agony sometimes to see all the lost opportunities I’ve had throughout my life to support them. My family. I didn’t, you know. I just didn’t. Now that I see what a crucial role that family and friends play in a life disrupted by sickness and loss I am ashamed to say I didn’t know. But now I do.

All I can offer now is a chance to help you by sharing what I’ve learned this past year.

Women have a 1 in 38 chance of getting uterine or endometrial cancer. If you have ANY bleeding whatsoever after menopause, it needs to be evaluated. It’s a straightforward check up. They believe that before menopause, taking birth control pills will reduce your chances of contracting these forms of cancer. There are other health risks associated with the use of any kind of hormone treatment and this is something you need to discuss with your gynecologist. Be aware that family practice doctors are not educated in women’s health very thoroughly. Don’t make my mistake and listen exclusively to them. Find and establish a relationship with a gynecologist, if you don’t already have one, after you are 40. It’s extremely important that you recognize early signs and symptoms of something gone wrong. You can save yourself and your family heartache and, potentially, loss, by simply becoming familiar with these signs. Please do it. Don’t let embarrassment and ignorance drive you down the road I’ve been on. It’s a terrible path that I would spare you.

There is some scientific evidence that curcumin and turmeric are excellent at reducing C125 levels in men and women. Make yourself familiar with this ugly little root. It can be a lifesaver. Familiarize yourself with routines that include familiarity with your body and what you can do. If you notice swelling in your lower abdomen, shortness of breathe, heaviness in your legs, exhaustion and/or bleeding or spotting GO see your gynecologist, not your family doctor.

I just got out of my appointment. I am not ‘clean’. My marker is elevated, still, but going down, slowly down. I don’t have to go back to chemotherapy. No more dense dose chemo. Do you know how that makes me feel? I can go back to work on Oct 1st! Do you know how long I’ve waited to hear that? I’m healing. And I want to thank you.

I’ve tried to heal my spirit on this blog. To release some of the demons that have plagued me for the last year, not always successfully. Many times I’ve just cried. Sat and cried my eyes out, realizing what I’ve lost.

And what I’ve gained.

You.

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41 thoughts on “Saving My Life

  1. Before I read this, I had my topic all set for tonight. I knew exactly where I was going with it. This post has further confirmed how important it is to really take control of what we can–our happiness, our relationships, the love we give. We can’t control the outside factors, yet those are the very thing we worry most about.
    I just want to say, although I just began following you, thank you. I send love and gratitude your way!

    • It was all of you out there that gave me this control. Andra’s funny, thought provoking posts and kindness. Cheryl, who has been through this and more. Mr. Sugarbears, who is Miss Wizard to me, with her kind nature. With warmth and sympathy to spare someone across the country staggering under a burden I didn’t think I could bear. People like Sam Han with the coolest, funkiest, all out bitchin’ food blog going, over there in Asia. Her insight was so important to me. Skalabara from somewhere at the top of Europe, who stitches up the most unbelievable quilts, from her own patterns, which if you are into quilting, you know how hard that is. All of you…I mean it. So many people who don’t know what a huge difference they’ve made. I never checked stats and I was surprised how many people have joined me in this blog. Tiny comments, short little remarks, long treatises, cheerful reminders…these are the rocks on which I built the belief that I could survive this. You are my anchors.

  2. Laura, we’re all walking the roads of life together and will be here anytime you need us. That’s good news about the cancer marker going down. And getting back to work will give you new experiences to layer into what the year has so far brought. I hope that, when you’re up to it, you’ll go back to the story of your wild days in Europe. I think your adventures may have just begun.

    • Cheryl what would have happened to me without all your kindness and support? You’ve been here. No, in fact I cant say that. You had it SO much harder than me. At least I had good insurance that never failed me. Incredible doctors and nurses. A teaching hospital that is world renowned. It was reading about your experiences that encouraged me. Thinking that if YOU could do this, as bad as things were, the injustice and hardship you suffered, and remain busy and practical and warm hearted, then I could sure as hell make it work. When I was lost and afraid, you walked me through it. Everyday. Your blog was the first one I had the courage to read. Your replies gave me strength. I can’t thank you enough. Someday I want to meet you. Just to touch the hand that reached out to me.

    • Thank you! I just love looking at your quilts. I’m looking forward to seeing the tutorial when you get that going. I am not a quilter but I love watching them come together. Mom and Liza (sister) are both experts. My self healing is going to be the journey that lasts the rest of my life. I look forward to it!

    • I feel so great today. I wasn’t even scared going in. I just knew it was going to be good news. It’s like the Tom Petty song, it came on as soon as I turned on my car radio leaving SCCA, ‘Running Down a Dream’! “There’s something good waiting down this road…running down a dream that would never come to me…” that’s how I feel! Positive that all that I’ve gone through has been for something. A harsh hard lesson that I needed to open my eyes. Dr. Grey told me not to look back, that part of my life was over. It was all a new path, starting from today. And then that song….yes! I feel good.

    • Helen, it’s through you and Andra and Shannon and Cheryl and, well…everyone, that I got through this. My doctor was so upbeat and positive and HAPPY that it was simply contagious. I feel great today!

    • To celebrate I’ve come to Henry’s Tavern to watch the US team qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. I’ve decided that listening to AC/DC blasting, while having a local small batch beer and a burger, and cheering on our guys is just what I need today. No more chemo! Go USA!

      • Perfect way to celebrate the end of chemo! I haven’t had a beer since I started chemo two months ago. My last treatment should be on Halloween day, so you know I’m going to celebrate accordingly as well!

      • I know! I quit sugar, dairy, wheat, corn, soy, alcohol, none organic veggies and fruit and most meat. DANG! So, yeah. First place I headed was for a great tavern with brilliant (bad for me) food and nice cold beer. Remind me when you get your last chemo so I can raise a glass to you!

    • I am NOT that stringent, it’s more of a goal and looking for substitutes and end runs. I am starting a course of Chinese medicine and acupuncture so I will be on a monitored diet next week to try and restore feeling to my feet and hands and to bring my C125 down further.

  3. You are courageous, and I suspect, contagious, and I will be back because I am going to need what has sustained you because yesterday my Queen had breast cancer confirmed…let the journey begin. Bloody good onya Laura, congrats.
    respect REDdog

    • REDdog, arrggh! what the hell?! You must first convince yourselves that you will win this. Absolutely. You will, you know. Don’t let your Queen lose heart. It’s all about the caregivers, you know. Support, love, smiles, hugs and never let them see you sweat. And turmeric. I know I sound like a loon but my oncologist JUST told me today to start taking it. It works to lower C125 levels in breast and ovarian cancer. And she’s a kick ass oncologist. Dang, you threw me. I read your blog and you’re such a compelling writer, I feel like I know you. I’ll be here. Keep in touch.

      • My Queen is a Dietitian by profession and lives the cleanest, healthy life style so I am certain she will be right onto your advice about Turmeric. We are very strong together, our family is close and we have humour, I have confidence that we will kick cancer’s arse!! Will keep you in the loop, Laura, thanks. LLHnR REDdog

  4. Thank you for sharing this. I’m always afraid of body check-up by gynecologist even though I know it’s a must process for women.
    Thanks again for your comments on that subject.
    Glad to hear you’re getting better and going back to work.

    • Yes, it is not a thing women enjoy but, as I’ve found, it’s completely necessary. Men, too, need to be made aware of their need for examination and regular check ups. They are worse than us, if thats possible!

    • THANK you, Kate. It feels good. I am starting a regime with a Chinese herbalist and a Dr. of acupuncture to further heal my neuropathy. Sticking pins in oneself and drinking tea was never so fun!

  5. Laura, I hope this comment come through. I posted one here before but it didn’t show. My wordpress has been wonky for the last month or more. I have lost the “feeling” from the first response but I want you to know that you are the bravest gal I know. Thank you for sharing your experience here. It will help others going through the same trauma. I believe anyone who has read your blog will find it hard not to love you. The part I love about you is your candidness and ability to swear in the most funkiest acceptable way, lol… You are so real and sincere. I wish you all the best in whatever you are doing and going to do. There’s plenty of reasons to rejoice from now on.

    P.S. I also happened to practice the consumption of ground fresh tumeric root juice (one tablespoon, with a teaspoon of honey and some warm water). It is supposedly good for the womb (yin yang theory). We consume this during and after we (my girls, too) are “clean” from the monthly period.

    • You and your girls always look the picture of health! I have started seeing a Chinese medicine doctor and an acupuncturist to treat my neuropathy and I really enjoy the treatments. It was wonderful to talk to my surgeon and hear good news and that I was now cleared for trying Eastern medicine. I tried everything I could do to get better and it was through you that I could lose my problems and just bask in the words and pictures you put out. It’s so soothing.
      It’s so beautiful.

      • See what I mean by you’re so loveable? 😉 TCM (traditional chinese medicine) needs long term commitment to see results. It’s never too late. Do not take very strong brews. Keep them moderate but frequent. It will go a long way 😀 So happy you are cheering up! Now go kick some ass :p

  6. Pingback: Dying to save my marriage | Journey of Joy

  7. What a beautiful post! So enlightening and eye opening. So many dimensions to this journey you’re on. An informative and humbling post. Helped me A LOT. All the best in your journey to health. I will be praying for you!

    • Journey of joy. I want to say that over and over again. Such a lovely sentence. Thank you for your kind words. They mean a lot to me, to know that someone out there got what I was saying, that maybe it helped them. My journey is only now beginning. The road before me, fresh and new. The past is a lesson I will live with forever. Hugs.

  8. Pingback: Dying to save my marriage | Redneck Garage

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