It’s Complicated

Ever since Facebook came up with a relationship status of “it’s complicated,”  I found using that very phrase can sum up things so nicely. Unfortunately that’s exactly what my cancer is: complicated. This is where we stand:

  • I have completed four rounds of chemotherapy.
  • The good news is there has been no new growth in existing tumors and no new tumors. My lab work has been steadily and slightly improving.
  • The bad news is there has been very little decrease in the size of the tumors.
  • And the ugly is that my cancer is freaking complicated!

I’m in the process of getting a four day scan that will show the metabolic activity of my tumors.  It’s possible that the tumors are in my body but the cancer is dead.  Those results will be in next week. My oncologist and I have agreed I should see a specialist for my type of cancer.  The expert in my specific cancer is at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. “The Expert” can’t see me until August 5 so one of his associates is seeing me June 30. I’m still hopeful.

Real Deal Dolores

Real Deal Dolores

Long before this crazy cancer business started, I met a special woman and Gomez Gem named Dolores.

Over the years, I’ve gotten to know Dolores in her many roles.  She’s a mother of three, a doctor, a wife, an auntie. She’s sincerely nice and incredibly generous. While easy going, she’ll flex her muscles when she has to.  She’s five-foot-nuthin’, but I dare you to test her.  And if you do, can I watch?

I have a list of a very few, select women (men can’t be on the list – sorry dudes) that I call “The Real Deal.”  Dolores is definitely on the list. As a physician, mother and friend, she bloody does it all.  She can deliver a baby in the morning and then spend the evening painting her nails with her daughters.  An avid sports fan, she corrals her family to Mayfield football games, Aggie basketball games and MLB spring training trips to Arizona. She’ll grub down on a Taco Tuesday special with the best of them, but can really appreciate a $90 bottle of wine on Wednesday. And while she’ll never admit to this or play into it, she’s a real hottie.

She came from humble beginnings that she’s proud of and has accomplished a whole heck of a lot in her short life.  It could all go away tomorrow and probably not matter or bother her much.  She’s secure and confident.  In other words, I dig her.  I always have. I’m glad to have the opportunity to tell her my admiration.

These days, Dolores is coordinating my care, and boy do I feel lucky to have her.
Thank you, D.  Yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Attitude

Attitude

At the very beginning of this journey so many people told me to be strong, to be tough and fight. I thought to myself, “Duh! Do you know me at all? I’m the toughest bitch I know!” My definition of tough isn’t muscles and intimidation. It’s confidence. It’s character. It’s self assurance. It’s attitude.

Right after my diagnosis I wanted to know why. Why me? I eat fairly healthy. I mean I have membership to two food cooperatives. People that join co-ops don’t get cancer. Last summer, I bought 40 pounds of apples–what the hell was I thinking?–to challenge myself in the kitchen. I don’t consume artificial sugars and only real sugar on special occasions. I don’t microwave plastics or styrofoam. My family is active. Maybe we’re not CrossFitters, but we move.

The whole diagnosis made no sense, and I felt it couldn’t be for me. I take care of myself. I don’t carry around anger. I love to live! I try to have fun and to be happy. I’m down to have a good time, anytime! I’m 33 years for cryin’ out loud! So why? What went wrong? When and where did shit go south? I wanted to know and I wanted to know right away.

The medical folks told me my diagnosis was just a function of bad luck, but that answer still wasn’t good enough. After beating my head against the wall, I gave up wanting to know why. Did it really matter? The fact was I had been dealt a pretty shitty hand of cards and now my job was to beat the house.

I made a very clear decision to try and put my type A personality on hold. It wasn’t going to help me or the people around me. I wasn’t going to be “that” cancer patient. Simultaneously, I decided that the only thing I could control was my attitude. Chemo might work, or it might not. I can’t control the meds or how my body reacts to them. It’s out of my hands. Now, people who aren’t type A might not understand how hard just going with the flow is for those of us who are. A lackadaisical attitude just isn’t in my DNA. It’s not how I’m bred or wired, but it’s how I’ve tried to adapt to my new normal.

If you really sit back and think about it, aren’t our attitudes the only thing we really have control of, with or without cancer? At work you can lose “the big” contract. At home, your husband can cheat on you. You could get in a car accident any day, or even lose your job through no fault of your own. At the end of the day, you have no control of those things. The only thing that we have control over is our reaction to them; one’s attitude controls that.

After losing Briton I struggled to find the right way to cope. One day, over the phone, my best friend told me to cry. Let it out. She was so very right. As strong as I am, I’ve let myself cry. I honestly think I’d be doing more damage if I didn’t. I have the meltdown. So I’ve let myself get pissed off, sad, or hurt. Hell, sometimes I’m all three at once. But I cry, and get it off my chest. Now, I don’t want to confuse tears for weakness. When I’m done with the tears, I move on.

It’s been four months since my diagnosis, and this is what I have decided: I’m not going down without a fight. My powerhouse mind won’t let me. But there will be moments that I will doubt my own strength. There will be moments that my body will be so wiped out that my mind won’t care.

That’s where my loved ones and those on Team Lori step in. I’m only human and I sometimes need to be reminded of my own strength. Sometimes, I’ll need help. This whole help thing has been very difficult to accept, but hopefully it’s temporary. I also hope that I’ve put enough good karma into the universe to get some of it back. Every single text message, e-mail, Facebook message, blog comment and phone call reminds me to be strong. So thank you dear friends. Thank you for your concern, for your love, for your inspiration.