Trek Women
June 11, 2008

Leave My Nodes Out of It

I'm not a secret-keeper.  My life is with its up and downs is mostly an open-book.  But, I must confess that I have been not so forthcoming with the behind the scenes look at my life as of late.  I've spent the last 6 weeks plagued with an odd-assortment of symptoms - relentless fatigue being the biggest.  So after some crafty dodging of isolated symptoms with just-plausible rational, I finally had to pick up the phone and call my oncologist.  In a style that would make Freud proud, I did so the day before I left for Michigan to do the Wine, Women and Wheels event.  I knew, and was even willing to admit that I called that day precisely because I knew nothing could be done about my reported issues for at least a week because I would be out of town.  That's the tricky game of emotional hide and seek that cancer and I like to play.

Aggravated at having to answer "yes" to the many questions about symptoms, I artfully left town for Michigan and a place called Denial-ville. When I returned it was to the request of my oncologist for a meet and greet with my blood and lymph nodes.  For some reason, my brain had remained in denial-ville and thought the answer would easily reveal itself in the bloodwork. I was willing - begging, in fact, for a problem with my thyroid - it nicely fit with my symptoms and was NOT cancer - the key part of the puzzle.  WRONG.  After one feel of my neck lymph nodes, my oncologist said she was worried and sent me to be scanned. 

I know, I know, you're waiting for the results. . .  Think how I felt.  Living with, through and beyond cancer is tricky business.  I have spent a month now with crushing anxiety - enough to make your chest feel as if you were having a heart attack and can't breathe. A month of guilt for the potential havoc I was bringing on my family.  Of anger.  Of more anger.  Of resentment.  Of anger at the complaints of others with a common cold.  I would KILL for a common cold.  I've cried.  I've vacillated between staying positive and utter heart-wrenching despair.  I've tried to pacify myself with dessert - for breakfast.  I've done all the what -if's.

So, here's the thing.  After an injection of radioactive gunk - an injection that held my fate, leaving both a radioactive mark and a bad taste in my mouth, after filling myself to the brim with barium, my scan showed NOTHING.  The crushing weight on my chest has lifted.  I stood and cried salty tears as it was repeated to me on the phone.  Nothing is better than NOT having cancer again. . .

. . except, we don't know what's wrong.  Not having cancer is a sweet victory but not knowing what's next is just as complicated.  My body has been filled with poisons, over and over, in an effort to defeat an enemy that likes to hide and wait.  Doctors don't fully know and can't predict the myriad of health problems that follow cancer treatments and clinical trials.  I am 33-years old and have more doctors than most 80 year olds.  Am I angry, sad, and psychologically drained?  Yes.   Oh, and I am still fatigued, plus some other random symptoms too.

Frankly, I wanted to title this blog "Why Cancer Sucks" but I couldn't even do that.  It would give too much credit to such a short blog.  Cancer sucks over and over again.  If someone said cancer sucks and listed only one reason or a short list, I would have to laugh at their ignorance.  That's why I train, to grasp only a small part of control in a body that cancer wants to keep punishing.  Problem is, the fatigue, the worry, the anxiety and stress all make that hard too. 

I continue to put one foot in front of the other because that's what I do.  I am seeing more doctors to continue the conversation.  Unfortunately it's a lengthy process given the history I bring to the table.  I've accepted that right now my training won't meet the standards I've got on paper but sometimes you've got to work with what you've got.  And at the very least, for the next 3 months it's not cancer. . .



OK now, it's hard I know, but you are charmed and you also have tons of stuff left to accomplish. All will be well, and read the last paragraph in my blog today because we were on the same channel. I am here anytime, and I was pretty damn close to what you are struggling with. Drop me a line, because I so connected to your blog today.

Take care sweet Jen.

Posted by: Trek Sister Marie | Jun 11, 2008 9:51:30 PM

Oh Jen. My heart goes out to you and Mr. Jen and the boys.


Posted by: Laura | Jun 12, 2008 9:41:24 AM

Keep doin' what you're doing... like you said, work with what you've got, the best you can. "You've got to keep on moving, even when you cannot feel the beat..."
Rooting for you here. It's not fair - but we already know that. For everybody complaining about their common cold, there's somebody else out there *not* complaining who's got it worse. (Okay, I hven't *counted.* I'll bet there are 20 times as many people complaining about their colds. Hallmark will never hire me.)
Rest when you need to. You know what matters most and focus on it :D

Posted by: Sue | Jun 12, 2008 1:35:06 PM

Sending bouyant, supportive butterflies from the "other forum". Maybe the exhaustion is just that? Maybe a body that's carried you through such a tough battle is simply tired? Maybe some sort of nutritional imbalances remain as a legacy of all that hard work? Maybe there's some minor infection going on, and after a cancer battle that's enough to throw you for a loop? It's good they found nothing after a thorough search. It's good they're still looking. I'll keep some "fingers" (wingtips? webbed toes?) crossed that they continue to find nothing, alternatively that they find something banal and easily treated.

Posted by: Duck | Jun 12, 2008 2:31:42 PM

Hi, Jen...

Met you in Traverse City, Michigan, at the Wine,Women and Wheels event - Keep that positive attitude I experienced in talking with you. My water bottle will serve as a daily reminder to do the same for you! Linda

Posted by: Linda Deneen | Jun 12, 2008 4:51:48 PM

""Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass....
It's about learning to dance in the rain."
You are doing a great job of it!
Praying all stays well for you!

Posted by: Anet | Jun 12, 2008 5:17:35 PM

Wish you had shared this with me in Traverse City! I know what your going through, don't forget that there are alot of us out here. I have another 6 month checkup coming up and already I am nervous. I wish the best for you and hopefully you will be doing much better. If I can do anything for you, will always be here! Take care, Julie

Posted by: Julie Umlor | Jun 17, 2008 6:33:35 PM

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