Tuesday, 5 August 2008


Blood tests, tumor markers, CT scans and bone scans are just not a few of my favourite things. I had them all last week and usually when I am having them I am a nervous wreck. My dear friend Sally calls it scanxiety (scan/anxiety). Can you believe it though, not this time?

I can place my lack of fear right at Nadalene’s door. When I was driving myself crazy last time and making myself physically ill, Nadalene told me that the tests weren’t going to make a difference. That whether the cancer had spread or remained stable, or that whatever I had, and wherever I had it, the tests themselves wouldn’t give it to me. The tests would just report on what was already there and would be a guide for my doctor.

This may all sound very rational to you, but believe me, when you are on the receiving end of these tests it is easier said than done. However I have been able to talk myself into staying calm all this week with the exception of the Monday after my CT scan because I saw a message on my phone that said unknown and so I assumed it was the doctor calling to tell me I was a dead duck. (Rational Renee forgot that I have at least three unknown calls on my phone every single day.)

Seeing your doctor after a scan is brutal. I always knew that. What I didn’t know though was that it gets worse and worse and worse and worse each time. I think this may be because at first you are given a death sentence and so you expect nothing but doom and gloom. After awhile and if you’re lucky and the cancer stops progressing and stays stable you become hopeful again. Hoping that you can hold this cancer off for some time and that you will have more time with the people you love.

The day you meet the doctor to hear the results can be best described in what Angelique calls having the gun put up to your face leaving you hoping that even if it is aimed right at your face, you can dodge the bullets. It feels as though you have pulled out the revolver, put some bullets in some of the chambers, and passed it to your doctor so she can take aim at you. The game of Russian roulette is not a game for the weak at heart. It is not a game for me. Will she say ‘everything is stable and we will proceed with what we are currently doing’. Or will she say ‘it is not working anymore and we have to do x, y, or z’. Or even worse, will this be the time that there is nothing more that can be done.

August 6th will be 2 ½ years since I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Inflammatory Breast Cancer. I went through almost two years of chemotherapy (33 treatments), and have since been on an estrogen inhibitor. At my last scans in March they showed no progression. I am so praying that this is the case from my scans last week.

I am a good cancer patient…..really; I am a great cancer patient. I am tough; I don’t curl up in a ball and hide. I faced what I had to face and I sucked it up; I got through it (more or less). I know I can do it again. But my God, I don’t want to have to. Again, I just want the tests to show stable.

I know some of you may think, and you would be right, that I am whiney and self-pitying. I try not to be. Just sometimes I can’t help it. I can’t help that I feel sorry for my family and myself sometimes.

My sister Mickey has been trying to have me and my family go on a vacation which she will cover the flight. She also has a timeshare that she wants us to use. The hold-up is me though. Actually maybe the hold-up isn’t me, maybe it is my cancer.

I can’t make plans anymore like normal people. I have to get tests. I have to wait for results. I have to know whether the doctor will tell me good news or bad. I need to know if I will have a reprieve. I also know that now it is too late again, as Angelique and Nathan will both be in school soon so it will be too late to organize anything. I won’t see the doctor until the middle of August and if she gives me bad news than I will have to start another form of treatment.

Do you understand my dilemma?

I realize that I am not the only person who has to deal with this shit. I have my wonderful family and caring friends that have been here for me. The same wonderful family and friends that have to deal not only with this shit, but with my shit too. How do I repay them you ask, well, I continually drag them down this road with me.

And this has been going on for months, actually for years, 2 ½ to be exact.

“To be vulnerable to the mystery of our life as it presents itself requires forgoing our hopes and fears for the future and being willing to taste what is here before us, in all its poignant bitter-sweetness.” ~~ Roger Housden ~~

I know I am putting the cart before the horse here. Believe me when I say I don’t want too. It just is so hard for me to have to hear the results, to have to hear if my life as I know it now will have to change again.

It just occurred to me that throughout this post I have been playing the ‘what-if’ game that my Dad warned me about. I know very well what he told me to do when it came knocking. So I’m going to do it “Fuck-off what-if.”

I feel better.

My nervous wallowing will be held back. I am going to remember to live in the now. Right now today, nothing has changed. My cancer is stable today until I hear otherwise.

Jacquie on the day I have to meet with Dr. Grenier I will probably come to you beforehand on all fours, with my tail between my legs and as you know I will be barking. The woof woof will mean that I want you to pass me a dozen of your nerve pills. So just toss them to me no questions asked and say ‘good boy.’

Wish me luck.


Camille said...

Good morning My dear sister. (Whiney and self-pitying) Don't beat your self up over that. You totally deserve to be both with what your going through. I'm coming in the 15th & hopefully we can go yard saleing & see your sweet Josephine. Love you Renee & praying for stable.

angelique said...

These scan periods are the worst of times. It is so hard to live in the unknown and let the what ifs' creep in. Is your life lease renewed with clean bill of health? It's an awful waiting game Mom. We can only wait and be hopeful, or at the very least, try and live in the here and now I guess. Love you.

Anonymous said...

I found these on a website (http://www.beliefnet.com/gallery/cancerprayers.html?pgIndex=6) for people with Breast Cancer, words of hope..... hope they do that, I am so proud of Nadalene and Angelique they don't just say the right things, they know the right things.

Blessing When Receiving Chemotherapy (I think treatment)

Blessed are You,
Compassionate One,
For giving me
these droplets of
(name of chemotherapy drug),
Like refreshing dew
and healing rain,
may they save my life.
--Diann L. Neu

The Power of Faith

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
--Hebrews 11:1

A Divine Request

Please God,
bring healing.
--Exodus 12:13

Stay Strong,
Love Colette

Liz said...

Scantastic post Mrs. K!
As always you shed light on dark topics, talk about Russian Roulette. As least with Russian Roulette I believe at some point they put the gun down...

Not that you need to hear it again, but your discussion of your "self pity" as you call it, is pretty harsh. I think what your calling self pity could also be described as feelings that are beyond relevant to what you're facing.
Perhaps if you are comparing yourself to super humans ,(such as Angelique), then I can see where you might feel that way.( I'm sure even super humans are sometimes whining on the inside) Otherwise it's just not realistic to torture yourself.It's adding insult to injury.
I spent a good portion of the day on Sunday with you,(lucky me) and if I didn't know better I wouldn't even have known you were suffering at all. However, I do know, but more than that what I really know is that your strength is beyond description. You have faced every moment of this with everything you have and that's all there is to it. What more could you ask of yourself.
I wish for just a moment you could see yourself through the eyes of those who know and love you, your family. I know you would not be disappointed.

Anonymous said...

Renee, I agree with Liz. You amaze me with your strength and attitude. When Harry saw you on Sunday he came home and was so happy. He said Renee looks so beautiful and happy today. She had a big smile on her face today so she must be feeling better. You even took time to make Harry feel good by letting him know how his niece feels about him. He was just thrilled. Never worry about expressing your feelings because they are real and it is what you have to deal with every day. Those of us that love you are listening and truly care about how you feel. I not only wish you luck for your results but please know that you are in our thoughts and prayers every day. I am also letting those Saints that I am praying to know that they should be working overtime on this.
Love Jeannine XOXO