Wednesday, November 18, 2015

I love you, Buster!

He never criticized me when my house was dirty or messy. He didn't mind that sometimes I acted like a hoarder. He always forgave me when I was crabby, whiney, or impatient. He loved me in spite of all my faults. What will I ever do without that crazy, happy face greeting me every single morning as I stumbled to the bathroom???? He's gone. My Buster is gone. And my heart is broken. Several weeks ago, I noticed he was walking a little funny. I thought maybe his nails were getting too long, and my brother-in-law came over and clipped them, hoping that would help. It slowly got worse. Buster always loved my massage machine and he laid down on the floor for me to massage his hips and legs. He loved it, but it didn't help, and he began "slipping" --- his back legs sliding out from under him as if he were on ice. It was torture for me to see him try to get up. I took him to the vet the other day, and they found nothing at all wrong with his spine, hips, legs, etc. X-rays were perfect. She asked to keep him for a while, they would do blood tests, etc. They called later that day and said he had diabetes and wanted to do a drip of insulin and something else. But it didn't work. The next morning he was in worse shape, and the vet said he would never walk again. So I had to make that heart-wrenching decision --- I had to let him go. I love you, Buster. I will always miss you. You saw me through a hard period of my life and I thank you for being such a wonderful, faithful friend. There will never be another Buster and everyone who ever met you knew you were one of a kind. You will hold a special place in my heart forever and ever!!!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

It's Back!!!

So much time has passed since I last posted here that it's hard to find a new beginning. In some ways, I could say that nothing new has happened, "same old, same old," etc. In other ways, I could say my life has been turned up-side-down. And with that, came all new feelings, emotions, weaknesses, strengths, and a whole lot of stuff I never knew was a part of me.

I thought I had it beat. I fought the fight, won the battle, and for seven years ----- nothing. That sneaky, pesky, risky, dreaded cancer. My oncologist was right and I hate to admit it -- "It is not a question of IF the cancer will return, but rather, a question of WHEN!" I HATED that statement. With a passion! It haunted me for 7 years. And just when you think you are "over it" in terms of worry, etc., I get hit smack against the head with those most dreaded words "I'm sorry to tell you, but it's back."

In the sleepless, dark hours of many past nights, I've planned out my emotions, how I would react, the brave face I would have, and what my eloquent words would be when I heard those words. I thought I had it memorized, practiced -- right down the smile, how I would walk out of that office, etc. It didn't work. The "ME" I thought I was just didn't show up.

It all started about a month ago. My arm started swelling -- lymphedema from the mastectomy I thought. I kept it elevated, but it kept getting worse. Strange that it would start doing this after 7 years of no problems. But it does sometimes, and there it was, painful, heavy, and worrisome. I finally began to realize this needed attention, but who do you call, your primary care doctor or your oncologist. I went with the oncologist. He took one good glance at it and sat back in his chair and said, "You know what THAT is, don't you? A blood clot!" That scared me --- when I was 8 years old, my Mom died suddenly from a blood clot --- pulmonary embolism. He put me on blood thinners, gave me some instructions, got up to leave the room and said, "If you have any shortness of breath or chest pain, go straight to the emergency room." Before he got out the door, I said, "But I already have shortnesss of breath." He stopped dead in his tracks and made arrangements for scans and ultrasounds of my lungs, arm, chest, etc. And off I went to the radiologist.

But already, my "act", my resolve to be the best of soldiers, the greatest cancer actress, etc., was down the drain. I got as far as my car, melted into a puddle of nerves and called my sister. All I could get out was, "I'm in trouble!" Little did I know how much trouble I was in, and how thankful I would be for the blood clot. Yes, the scans confirmed the blood clot. But it also showed "spots" on my lungs. And the little bit of my liver that showed on those chest scans also showed trouble. The cancer was back.

So on to PET scans. All was confirmed -- cancer in the liver, lungs, ribs and spine. It's strange how shocking news affects a person. It wasn't the cancer that scared me so much --- it was the thought of biopsies and the fact that I could NEVER in a million years go through one. I would rather die right there on the spot. Everything within me cried, "NO! NOOOOOOOOOO! NO!!!" But. . . . what are my choices? As my sister said once, I had two choices --- either sign up for all the worst possible stuff you could dream of, or die a slow, hideious, painful death. So. . . . I signed up, pretending I was brave and strong, but falling apart on the inside.

I found out in those first days that you just know somewhere in your heart who will pray for you, and who will REALLY pray for you. It's the latter that you contact. And it is those people who hold you up, inject you with hope and strength and light and point you to the One who is my light and my salvation and the strength of my life (Psalm 27).

So I sign up for that dreaded liver biopsy. And I march in that hospital. And I let them dig for veins for IV's and blood tests. And this guy comes to get me and says "We need to get more scans first." And I slide through the CT scanner one more time. And lo and behold, the radiologist comes out and says, "Honey, there will be no liver biopsy today!" And I ask Why? He says, because there is nothing there to biopsy! You have an inflamed gall bladder and need to get that out right away. He does confirm "many tiny nodules" on my lungs. And I immediately panic and tell him I can't do the lung biopsy. Just can't!!!!!! I had heard all the horror stories about those things. He pats my arm and says, Don't get all upset now, I can't do a lung biopsy. The nodules are way too small. Go back to your oncologist for Plan B.

So good news --- no liver cancer. Bad news: Lungs. Good news: They will put me under general anesthesia and a Thoracic surgeon will do the biopsy and another surgeon will do the gall bladder all at the same time. (Anyone can do anything to me as long as I'm OUT!). So all those appointments are made.

Here I sit, all dressed and ready to go for the consult with the surgeon. The phone rings. "Hold on, your dr. wants to talk to you." He NEVER calls. It was like someone said "God Himself wants to talk to you." My heart starts racing. He gets on the line and says, "I just talked back and forth with the radiologist. He studied your scans again and feels that there is a mass or something in your back and thinks he can get a biopsy from there instead of that risky, invasive lung biopsy, so cancel your appointment with the surgeon and we'll set up the other biopsy from here."

Good news: no lung biopsy. bad news, new cancer in my back????

So that's where I stand right now. Lots of questions, not many answers. Gall bladder HAS to come out. Pain is getting unbearable. But the rest of it all rests on the results of the biopsy. We can't start any kind of treatment until we know if it is the same cancer as the breast cancer was, or if this is a whole new ball game.

That biopsy will be Tuesday at 8:15 am. I would appreciate your prayers as this guy digs into my back. I'm not real brave. No, I'll be honest --- I'm not brave AT ALL!!!!!

Strange how the thing I was so upset about (the blood clot) became the thing that set into motion a diagnosis of cancer. Who knows how long it would have been before it was discovered if it had not been for that clot?! Nothing was showing up --- no change in cancer markers in my blood tests, no new pains, no nothing. The verse I have clung to is Psalm 138:8 --- "The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me." It's amazing how He does that, isn't it???

You'd think by this time in my life I would be more trusting of His plans and how He works them out.