McKenzie Free

One woman's quest for greater understanding through freedom of self expression.

Archive for the month “November, 2013”

What Can Beat No Chemo?

I’m still reeling from news yesterday that chemotherapy is not indicated in my particular case.  I don’t remember ever receiving better news.  I was prepared for the worst, so much so that I didn’t know how to react to such great news.  I couldn’t quite grasp it at first.  I wondered if they’d gotten my sample mixed up at the lab.  The doctor had to ensure me that the results were mine.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how perspective changes everything.  Six months ago I in the midst of a deep depression and couldn’t seem to pull myself out of it.  Now, the things that were concerning me hardly seem important.  I’m alive and I don’t have to have chemo.  I feel lucky which is a feeling I’ve never really experienced before.  On the contrary, I’ve always felt like a little black could was hanging over my head.  Today I feel almost grateful for new outlook that having cancer has given me.

At this point I can’t think of any news greater than “You don’t have to have Chemotherapy”.  What can beat that?

Best meal I ever had at the Inn at Little Washington?  That night I was catered to by more restaurant staff than I ever knew existed, experienced delectable food, celebrated my birthday with my husband and closest friends.  A great memory…but it doesn’t come close.

Best sex I ever had?  Incredible and also delectable but I do not kiss and tell so I’ll say no more about it except although it was exhilarating and took my breath away it doesn’t come close to the joy I’m experiencing now.

The only thing that ranks up there with finding out I don’t have to have chemo is the birth of my god-daughters.  That’s the amount of joy I feel again today.  A rebirth of sorts.  A new way to look at life.  I hope I’m able to harness this feeling and channel it toward enjoying life and not let depression take hold of me again.

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Study Hard and Get Straight ‘A’s

“Study hard and get straight ‘A’s —  that’s what I flippantly used to tell the kids as they went off to school.  Today I will find out my score on what is arguably the most important test of my life.  It’s not Pass/Fail — you get an actual score from 0 to 100.  If you get 100 on this test, you don’t get an ‘A’ , a big gold star, and congratulations all around.  You get to have Chemotherapy.

Apparently only 4 of 100 women with early-stage invasive breast cancer benefit from chemotherapy1, and we’re all aware of its toxic nature and the resulting side effects, most notably hair loss.  So, now they have a test called Oncotype DX that can help you find out if chemotherapy is mandated in your specific case.  Oncotype DX gives you personalized information about your individual breast cancer diagnosis.   If your score is low, no chemotherapy for you.  If it’s high then chemotherapy is definitely prescribed in your case.  If you get a score in the middle then you must decide for yourself if the risk of recurrence outweighs your fear of the treatment.

I’ve been waiting three weeks for the results of this test and part of me just wants to find out the score so I can make a decision and get on with my life.  The other part of me, a bigger part than I’m willing to admit even to myself, doesn’t even want to go to the appointment.  It wants to ignore this is happening to me and get on a plane and go somewhere sunny where I will lay on the beach drinking Mai Tais  and reading sexy novels.

There have been many times in my life when people have told me I’m courageous, or even fearless, as if the two words are interchangeable.  I never think of myself this way.  I’m certainly not fearless as I’m frightened of many, many things, including clowns and things that go bump in the night.   What others see as courageous was most likely me running away from something I feared even more than what I’d chosen to act on.

So today I once again forge through.  I will do what needs doing although I don’t want to.  I will get out of bed, I will get dressed, I will put my make-up on (for one can’t go into battle without war paint), I will go to the office, and when it’s time I will pick my sister up and we will go and find out my score.  For the first time in my life….I’m hoping I flunked a test.

1  Lancet 1996 Apr 20; 347(9008):1006-71

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