“If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.” ~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
I started writing this post a month ago, but I've had a hard time thinking through my thoughts on all that has gone on in the last month, in the last eight months. I thought this time after chemo and radiation would be easier. It is, and it isn't. I am too much of a control freak to not know what is next with this evil disease. I hate that not knowing.
The last time I had contact with the radiation oncologist and breast surgeon at Comprehensive Cancer Center in Las Vegas, they told me there is "no evidence of disease" on my newest films.
That what the oncologists tell you, you know. No evidence of disease. They don't tell you that you're cured; cured means that there is no trace of cancer in your body and that the cancer will never come back. Stray cancer cells can remain in your body even after treatment, and they may come back (usually within five years of treatment). The American Society of Clinical Oncology says that there are many factors that determine how one's cancer responds to treatment, and a cancer that relapses will do so within five years.
Something else the oncologists don't tell you is that even though your active treatment—chemotherapy and radiation—has ended, you still worry....you still feel odd....you still feel tired....you still have to deal mentally with all of the changes to your body and your life... (I shouldn't say "the oncologists" don't tell you these things; my oncologist in Las Vegas didn't tell me anything. I'm trying to let go of the anger I have at the non-treatment I got from him.)
I'm trying to focus on positives as my life starts heading in another direction this month. If you know me, you know that I finished radiation on September 29, and Mike, Riley, and I left Las Vegas in our rented Penske truck the next day. Many people think we were crazy for doing so so quickly after, but I wanted out of that house (I loved it, but the memories of the last few months were too much). I wanted a new vista (Look at that sunrise above!). I wanted to be close to Jason and Sandra (and Bud and Archie).
I also wanted to meet with my new oncologist at Moffitt Cancer Center because I had to start another treatment—five-to-ten years of oral medication. Five-to-ten years of a drug that will hopefully aid in the prevention of a recurrence. (Breast cancers have a 30% recurrence rate, and the aromatase inhibitors work against recurrence.) As much as I hate putting drugs in my body, I am grateful that someone invented a drug that will hinder the devil's reappearance.
The experience at Moffitt was wonderfully different from the one I had at CCCN, and my oncologist here is an intelligent, positive woman. "You will have good days and bad days," she told me. "Your body still has to heal. Give it time."
"Give it time." As someone who wants everything perfect immediately, I need to learn to "give it time." Knowing I am in good hands during this next—and longest—treatment phase, though, has made me calmer and more confident even though I have no idea yet where that road is leading.