Facing All My Fears

I title this facing all my fears because if anyone knows me, I was terrified of doctors and needles before all of this cancer crap.   I had to face so many fears that the reality of cancer treatments bring.  Being poked and prodded becomes a big part of daily life.  Blood tests – I am now a pro since I get them every 6 months.  I just drink lots of water before, whip out my arm, make a fist, and piece of cake!  Surgery is a breeze, after having 6 of them under my belt, I look forward to some well needed sleep then waking up with a nice box of juice in my hand.  All modesty is gone, I no longer care about the little paper robe on doctors appointments.  I now proudly display my breasts without any sense of embarrassment.  You are constantly exposing them every where you go during procedures and appointments so much so that I began to feel like a freak show or some type of specimen.  I remember one appointment there were interns attending with my doctor and they all came in to observe my little tumor.  This is when I realized it wasn’t little, it was big and a serious problem.  Had I did a self exam 6 months before, I would’ve caught it earlier.  Another take away, do your self exams!

I had a scare after my biopsy when my breast surgeon did a mammogram.  My breast was so bruised from the initial biopsy that it caused my sentinel lymph node to look enlarged.  They had to biopsy my lymph node.  I was still traumatized from the breast biopsy and knew that this will be very painful.  Sticking a long needle in my arm pit and lymph node, no way!! I remember sitting in the waiting room by myself while they prepped the surgery room. I was terrified, just sobbing. I asked for them to bring in my mom and I just laid in her arms never wanting to let go.  It was a tough procedure and prayers answered, the lymph node did not have cancer.  This is another lesson:  lymph nodes are your body’s little filters.  If a cancer cell is present, then chances are it has been filtered to other parts of the body.  One fear down many fears to conquer ahead of me.

Fear 2:  Once I was told I was going to have to do 8 months of chemotherapy, I was told I had to have a port placed in my chest so the needles from the IV’s didn’t blow my veins out.  Can they terrify you anymore??  I remember the day when the doctor told me about the port process.  I sat and shook all over, cried hysterically and said no way was I going to do that.  Day of the port surgery, my dumb self ate breakfast which means I had to be awake through the whole surgery!  I didn’t feel a thing but had a fun conversation with the doctor and staff during the 2 hour process.  They showed me the device and explained how it worked.  Although it was a weird and foreign object, it was the best tool for me during the treatment process.  It becomes part of your body and you learn to work around it.  I had to get bathing suits and tank tops to cover it after a child ask what was protruding out from under my skin.  Laughing, now that I think about it, I love kids and their honesty, it’s refreshing to be that young and learning about the world.

For anyone getting ready to go into chemotherapy, if you have to do extensive treatments, get the port.  Ask a doctor to prescribe you a numbing cream and put a dab on the circle with a band aid over it an hour before your treatments.  You won’t feel anything when the needle goes in!

So now that I faced a big fear of the port, it was time to begin my treatments.  The plan was neo-adjuvant treatment to shrink the tumor which consists of: chemotherapy, surgery, radiation, then Herceptin for a year.  They were going to blast me with an arsenal of drugs because I was young and in good shape.  4 rounds of the standard chemo, then all targeted therapy drugs weekly for 5 months in the hopes the tumor dissolves so they can save my little booby.  Can my body take it?  Will I fall and accept defeat? Onto fear 3: Chemotherapy

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9