Today is the eleventh anniversary of my dance with advanced cancer. Eleven years ago today, August 20, 2002, I got the news that my cancer had returned and I broke my left femur, which was riddled with metastases. Read all about it here.
In these eleven years, I have been on many medications. I've had multiple side effects. My cancer has been stable, has grown, and has been stable again. Right now it's stable on Xeloda and a combination of other drugs, thanks to the brilliance of my oncologist, Dr G (yes, he is the smartest man in the world), and to my indolent (i.e. lazy), slow-growing cancer.
I've lost so many friends to cancer over these eleven years and longer. Some I knew well and were particularly dear to my heart (oh how I miss Charisse, Emily, Josh, Dena, Sirron, Stephanie). Others I met through support groups or as mentorees through Sharsheret and Young Survival Coalition or were referred by friends. Each death was a loss to me. How can I not have survivors' guilt after losing so many, especially young, people?
And yet, here I am -- kind of an Energizer Bunny of metastatic breast cancer. I just keep ticking along. I now have brain mets, bone mets, and liver mets. Each new diagnosis whirled me yet again on the cancer merry-go-round.
But whether I am riding up and down on a merry-go-round pony or sitting on a bench, I am still a "glass half-full" person. That natural optimism helps me cope with the pony's ups and downs. I think I live a better, more fulfilling life because my glass seems always half full. At least it's easier to cope this way.
And to you to whom I may seem like Pollyanna, you've also read about my hard times here on this blog. To those who see me in public and think I look so well, it's because when I feel poorly, I don't go out. Some days I only move from the sofa to the bathroom and back again. Rik cares for me, Bobka the dog cuddles with me, I eat a piece of chocolate and am thankful that my life does go on.
So today is the one day I might give cancer a big, wet Bronx cheer, otherwise known as a "raspberry." And we will celebrate with good friends, delicious food, and my personal four food groups -- chocolate, champagne, whipped cream and potato chips (I never met a fried potato I didn't like).
To all my doctors and nurses, to the health care assistants who cheerfully welcome me and treat me like a real person and not a diagnosis -- thank you. This dance with cancer is a partnership among us all.
Here's to living with cancer!