Some weeks are easier than others. This one has been a challenge.
It started with a terrible toothache and ended with a root canal. Somewhere in the middle, I met with my gynecological oncologist to learn that the biopsy confirmed that this tumor is indeed malignant. And inoperable. It is an offspring of the original alien and, although located in a completely different place, considered pathologically to be ovarian cancer. I guess, ironically, that particular part of the body is designed to reproduce. But this is no sweet baby. It is an unwelcomed interloper, and I am going to do my best to destroy it.
Having to face a recurrence has been my greatest fear, a sinister monster lurking in the shadows over the past thirteen months. Statistically, given my Stage IV diagnosis, I knew there was a ninety percent chance of it coming back. And let’s face it: nobody would go to Vegas with those odds. But on good days, I thought that perhaps I might beat it. After all, ten percent remain in remission. Why not me? Unfortunately, that was not my fate.
The most negative aspect of having to go through this a second time is that I am not looking at what lies ahead in wide-eyed wonder. There is no mystery about what to expect. I know exactly what I am facing, and because of that, I am making the effort to stay positive and strong and determined. But lest you think I am some superhero, let me readily admit that It is a struggle. Soon, I will be back in chemo. The chronic fatigue, the hair loss, the unrelenting nausea and ongoing pain are challenges I am all too familiar with and not anxious to revisit. Who would be? And yet, although there is a big sting that accompanies any bad news, healing begins with acceptance. That’s the first of many hurdles I must clear on this race.
In the quiet moments, I try not to imagine myself as the main character in one of those sad stories that people like to tell. And trust me: I have heard lots of them. As much as I love the dramatic, I would rather pen a tale of triumph and victory, preferably one with a happy ending. Optimism has become my best friend, a necessary companion.
While the professionals sort out the logistics, I wait. In the meantime, I try to do as much as I can to prepare for what lies ahead. Much of the future is beyond my control, so I am cleaning my closet and cooking for the freezer. I regularly order dessert at a restaurant. And I bought a cute new pair of shoes. It all seems rather silly, but this is something tangible. Right now, I need small successes to celebrate.
I read somewhere that some women battling cancer object to terms like “fight” and “battle.” They don’t like to be called “warriors.” Not sure how they view this “journey,” another term that many find objectionable, but I am in combat mode. I am sharpening my weapons and donning my armor. The conflict is real, and I am at war. For some reason, the old hymn “Onward Christian Soldiers” popped into my head this afternoon. It was written under completely different circumstances, but I am reminded that I have an amazing General, one who knew me before I even took my first breath. I am confident that He will lead me to victory. That’s called faith, and I am mighty grateful to have it.
And when it is all over, when the battlefield is silent once more, there will be great rejoining. I am going to throw one heck of a party. Count on it!