Ten long but pretty darn good post breast cancer years is drawing to a close. It somehow seems inconceivable for 10 years have gone by so quickly, and then I have been so lucky. And I have been.
Friday was my last oncology appointment for 2021. And I spent a wee bit of time in the chemo/infusion lounge waiting for my flu shot.
While I was in the chemo lounge waiting for my flu shot there was first of all the lady across the way from me who was talking on her cell phone about some man and all the child support he owed, and how long he was going to have to work.
Next there was this little tiny old lady on a walker who came cruising by and honed in on the snack cart for chemo patients at the edge of my little “room”. She opened her purse and I swear she emptied most of the snacks in the cart into her purse. And then she couldn’t get her mask up because her one hand was full of treats still, so I said to her “Honey put your treats down and then you can pull your mask up” and she turns she looks at me and smiles a big smile and says “Thank you that’s a great idea.”
It was also Christmas sweater day. Even my oncologist had one on! But as I was leaving I saw one of my favorite people who has worked at Penn Radnor oncology as long as I can remember. We stopped and we caught up for a minute and it was so nice. And that’s the thing the weird thing about this disease: you meet people, you make friends, you get through it.
These people have also been part of my story and my journey this past decade. Along with the people I have encountered every visit. For the most part the people have been positive. Some haven’t been. Fortunately they fade into the background and melt away. But that’s the thing about this whole new normal. Life weaves in and out in between and through all of these appointments that have become a big part of my routine.
I ran into someone I know recently who is more recently into this journey. She went through surgery and treatment in the thick of COVID19. I think that must have been hard…and lonely. My friends went with me to radiation. COVID19 took that away from cancer patients. But the good news is she was given her treatment by the radiation oncologist who was also mine, Dr. Marisa Weiss.
So this woman and I talked. And talked. I get where she is, and the feeling of sheer madness I remember experiencing because of all of the questions and sheer emotions. She asked me if I was ever afraid of a reoccurrence. I have written about it that. Sometimes I still have these little thoughts that wrinkle across my brain. Especially now because I have been off Tamoxifen since September, but I was on it for 10 years. And then you just stop taking it. So then it’s a little like walking a tightrope without a net, and it is hard to realize/accept you don’t need that particular net anymore.
And some days I wonder what the future holds. I don’t have a crystal ball. BUT I have to NOT forget my paternal grandmother who was the oldest survivor of breast cancer I have ever known. She had breast cancer at a time when there was no treatment. There was surgery, yes, but that was it. And she lived into her 90s, and it was NOT breast cancer that wrote the final chapter of her life.
I also have a life long dear friend who lives with another metastatic cancer. She’s doing her immunotherapy infusions like a trooper. She got a literal Christmas miracle this week when she received the news that her current treatment was definitively working. The nodules that would not move have shrunk so much they have disappeared!
And we have survived COVID19 thus far. Cancer and treatment and meds no matter what stage of disease/treatment/life after means we are instantly immunocompromised . That news combined with a virus like that is no joke. So those who do not wish to get a shot can spare me their reasoning because they put everyone else at risk. Please get a shot and if someone asks you to wear a mask, it’s not such a big deal .
Readers, we have no guarantees in life with or without breast cancer. We can only do our best and believe.
Have a magical Christmas wherever you are.