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Final

24 Dec

Two major parts of my life were finalized this past week- my aunt’s life and my marriage.

Both surreal.  Both bittersweet.

We scattered her ashes in the ocean just before dawn.  I didn’t actually watch my cousin release her.  All I could look at was the waves coming up on the shore.  Coming in and moving back out.  Washing away, making new.

Michele believed in me.  She saw so much more in me than I ever did.  She wanted me to be more, to move on and live my life.  And that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

I love you Michele.  I can feel you with me.  And I know someday we will see each other again.

Life and Death

18 Dec

Right after my surgery earlier this year, my Aunt was hospitalized and diagnosed with small cell carcinoma, the most aggressive form of cancer.  Caused by only one thing: smoking cigarettes.  They caught it early and treated it aggressively.  We all thought she had it beat.  Then her next scan showed that it had moved from her lungs to her liver and pretty much taken it over.  That’s when they told her it was the beginning of the end.  She was determined to fight.

I traveled to Corpus Christi last weekend to help my mother start making arrangements and spend some time with my aunt while I can.  They have determined that the cancer spread to her spine and given her 6 weeks to live.  Hospice care has been brought in and we did our best to make her feel comfortable and happy.

While I was in town, I had a SERIOUS lapse in judgment.  I think it was a combination of re-reading some Love Dare posts earlier in the week and thinking about what I would regret if I were in my aunt’s position.  But I told him that I was willing to try to work things out.  I made promises, stopping just short of begging.  He totally rejected me.  It was so embarrassing, so humbling.  I felt like the world was swallowing me whole.  He had the nerve to ask me if we could still be friends.  Oh, have I mentioned that he’s already dating?

Anyway, I fell into this pit of despair.  Consumed in self-centered drama, I started thinking about death.  This is not new for me.  Suicidal thoughts, while not frequent, have been an issue for me since my teenage years.  Usually they are fleeting and an indication that I am not handling a situation well enough on my own.

This time it made me angry and scared.  Here is my aunt fighting for every minute she can squeeze out of her too short life and I’m going to let him make me feel like my life is over?!  But the thoughts kept coming.  That’s when I finally got down on my knees.  Why do I struggle so much to remember to pray?  It’s always a solution!  While my heart still aches, I know I’m going to survive.

I choose life and I’m strong enough to live it.

Now.

30 Oct

Wednesday evening, I was headed to bed when I got a call from my cousin.  She asked me to come over- her mom needed me.  My Aunt, who was recently started a new round of chemo, was in severe pain and wanted to go to the ER.  So we packed up and went.  When they called her in to do paperwork, she started vomiting and they rushed us in to a room.  It was horrible, but kinda lucky because we probably would have been waiting hours otherwise.

They determined that she had a stomach virus and was severely dehydrated.  The pain is being caused by her enlarged liver.  So they admitted her to get her back in tip top shape.  That night she was talking about dying and how she wanted me to come pick some things out that I might want.  I told her that I couldn’t do it.  I would cherish anything she wanted me to have, but I couldn’t just walk around her house and make a list.

Friday started out fine but by that evening I wasn’t feeling very well.  Not sick as much as tired, so I went to bed early.  I woke up around 11pm and as soon as I sat up, I knew I was in trouble.  I proceeded to projectile vomit ALL over the bathroom.  It was horrible.  Nightmare scene…  I was up for hours.  Looks like I picked up the stomach virus.

I spent most of yesterday in bed with a fever.  I felt so bloated but luckily not nauseous anymore.  Woke up this morning feeling much better tummy wise- just VERY sore.  My ribs, neck and back are achy and stiff, but I can handle that.  I finally ate a bowl of soup, so I’m definitely recovering.  But these past fews days have really set me back.  I was going to spend those days crocheting all day at work and packing at home in the evening.  I haven’t had the strength to do anything.  Not to mention, I really couldn’t afford to miss two days of work.

I was talking to my mom earlier and crying my eyes out.  I just cant understand why all of this is happening now.  Everytime I start to get positive and excited and happy, something else happens.  What does it all mean?!

My mom said, “It doesn’t mean a damn thing.  That’s just life!  Don’t go trying to figure it all out because there is no reason.  Just feel what you gotta feel.”  She went on to tell me that there’s always hope in every situation and she wants me to feel excited about my future and the coming New Year.  She just wants me to focus on myself.

So, that’s what I’m gonna do.

Lubbock it is

17 Oct
Last week my mother and step-father were in town visiting.  I had just pretty much made my mind up that I was going to move forward with going to Lubbock.  The fact is that I really don’t have anywhere to live here in Corpus Christi- at least not until I can afford it.  I couldn’t find anyone to live with that wasn’t a stranger (too many bad experiences down that road).  So, it was like there really wasn’t a decision at all.
Then my parents dropped a bomb on me- they are moving back to Corpus Christi after my step-brother graduates in May.  Since he’s headed off to the Navy, already enlisted!, they finally made the decision to come back.  Then it wasn’t so clear cut.  At that point, I felt like I HAD to stay put.
The same night, I spoke with my Uncle and his wife (I have a hard time calling her my aunt because we are so close in age and good friends).  They said that I could stay with them in Post, TX until I got on my feet.  That takes away a big portion of the gas issue because it’s much closer to Lubbock than Spur.  And it re-energized my desire to be in Lubbock.
Fast forward a few days and the next bomb dropped- my aunt, who finished her last round of chemo in mid-September got the results of her latest scan.  Her lung cancer had spread to her liver and more within her lungs.  They basically told her that her bone marrow has already taken a beating.  They don’t think they will be able to cure her cancer.  They are just going to prolong her life by treatment until her body can’t take it anymore.
Then I really felt like I had to stay.
I’ve been praying this entire time for guidance and courage.  I hadn’t felt like I knew what to do yet.  I could tell that at least subconciously, a part of me really wanted to be in Lubbock.  When I thought about staying here, it just didn’t feel like the right thing to do.  I realized I felt more excited when I thought about my future in Lubbock than I did when I thought about my future in Corpus Christi.  But I didn’t know what the RIGHT things to do was yet.
Until I had breakfast with my mom Saturday morning.  I was expressing to her my feelings about it all and she stopped me short by saying that I needed to do what was best for ME for once.  And I could feel that this was my answer.
I’m letting alot of people down by leaving Corpus Christi- my sister, my aunt, my parents, my friends.  It feels like a selfish decision to leave them behind, but sometimes in life we just have to put ourselves first.  I know I need this to put myself back together and hopefully come out of this with grace and confidence.
Today I start packing and looking for a job.  I have no idea what the future holds, but I feel hopeful and excited and a little bit scared- but I’m focusing on the hope.

Restless

14 Oct

Woke up early this morning and I’m feeling restless.  Like I need to DO something.

Got some news yesterday that knocked my socks off.  My aunt who just recently finished chemo and radiation for a very small tumor they found in her lung back in June recently had another scan.  Turns out the cancer has already spread to her liver and she has more in her lungs.  The last scan came back completely clear.  She has small cell carcinoma which is the most aggressive form of cancer- caused by smoking.

Her bone marrow has already taken a beating, so basically they are going to treat her until her body can’t take it anymore.

I’m sad.  I’m confused.  I don’t know what to say.  The only thing I can do is pray.

For Granted

17 Apr

I’ve started a new post here almost everyday the past two weeks, but I haven’t been able to bring myself to write anything.  I didn’t really have anything remotely positive to say so it’s probably good that I resisted.

Here’s a short list of events:
1.  Had my post-op appt.  Dr decided that we just need to go straight for In Vitro Fertilization- has the best odds of actually getting me pregnant.  IVF is expensive, so it’s going to have to wait a bit.

2.  The next day my aunt (who lives just doors away from me) collapsed trying to get out of bed.  She only lives with my cousin Katy who is 23 and has Cerebral Palsy.  Michele went BACK to the ER for the 3rd time in a week.  I was sure she had a stroke, a brain tumor, something like that based on her symptoms.  After 10 nights in the hospital, she is finally home with a diagnosis of lung cancer and will be starting chemo Tuesday.

3.  A week ago, I woke up with severe pain around my belly button incision.  First trip to the Dr determined I had injured the area (probably picking my aunt up from the floor).  Second trip to the Dr determined it was definitely infected.  I have strict orders to stay in bed (as much as I can), but I’m hoping to be released to normal activity at my appointment Tuesday morning.

All of this has left me feeling like I take my health/well being for granted.  I’ve spent so much time focusing on the aspects of my health that needed to change, that I haven’t seen just how lucky I am to have a body free of disease that can get me wherever I need to go.  My body and health isn’t perfect, but I’ll never take being able to roll over in bed, walk to the restroom, sit up without pain for granted again.  Beyond that, my aunt’s experience has made me see just how much worse it can always be.  And even then, she could be so much worse off than she is.

So, I’m going to thank God everyday for my body/health/well-being.  I’m going to love the skin I’m in.  I’m going to accept this gift I’ve been given and be grateful for it.