Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Head Down... Staying Focused

I was watching CSI:Miami last week and learned a little something about myself. While the coroner held the corpses limp hand up for Horatio to inspect, she pointed out white horizontal lines that stretched across his cold fingernails. Apparently, these lines are a sign that someone has been poisoned over a period of time. As I looked down at the lines decorating my fingernails, I chuckled… thanks CSI.

I feel like we have entered a new phase of this cancer journey. This is the “keep your head down and just get through it” phase. I have 8 more weekly treatments to go. One month off to recuperate, and then 6 weeks of radiation treatments, which will be 5 days a week. So really, that means 4 ½ months to go before this “adventure” is over. This nightmare started about 4 ½ months ago… so I suppose you could say we are half way done.

Additionally, after the treatments are finished I will go to a genetics doctor to be tested for the BRACA1 gene, or breast cancer gene.  Women with the BRCA1 gene have up to an 85% risk of developing breast cancer and an increased risk of 60% of developing ovarian cancer. (http://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/hereditary-genetics/breast-ovarian-brca1-brca2) If a person is positive for this gene, the general recommendation is usually a double mastectomy and hysterectomy. Despite having gone through chemotherapy, due to the “triple negative disease” element of my cell DNA, we would still need to consider these measures if I am in fact positive for the gene. (Most BRACA1 carriers are also ‘triple negative’… ain’t that special.)  My oncologist feels it is best for me to use my emotions and stay focused on completing chemo before we take the test, as naturally the results could stir up a lot of emotion and will require energy and focus on our decisions and tackling that challenge, should it arise. To be honest, I am very nervous and scared of this part of the journey. I think about it more than I should. After all, if I am BRACA1 positive, what does that mean for Leah, my sister and my nieces????

Anyway, we are all just doing our best to take on each day and get through each sunset whole. The other day a friend asked Eric “What are the blessings you are seeing through this?” I know that this kind of question is meant to be an encouragement, and we have both been asked assorted versions of this question over the last several months. While our list of blessings is long and God’s hand and provision is obvious in our home, I appreciated Eric’s response. He replied, “Why don’t you lay down on the ground and let me kick you in the gut over and over again for about 20 minutes and while I kick you I will ask you to tell me what blessing you are finding in being kicked. I imagine you will be begging me to stop kicking you and then, once you catch your breath, you might be able to reflect on the blessings… but even then it might take a while to come up with something good.” I think this kind of sums up how we are both feeling about now. Tired. Beat up. And just wanting this to be over so that we can look up again.

Finally this chain is getting shorter. It was
initially a about 3 feet long. 
I can’t help but laugh a little realizing that my last post stated that my New Years resolution was to remove the negative from my life… and yet this post stinks of negativity. Or maybe it is just the aroma of reality and being honest with myself about what is still to come.

However, I am happy to confirm that I ate my Ruffles and onion dip for the month of January. So at least I’m on target with one resolution!

8 Treatments Down, 
8 More To Go! 


  1. I definitely think there is a big difference between negativity and authenticity. It is okay to say this really sucks and doesn't seem fair. It is okay to admit you're scared. Your family is being continuously prayed for and I can't wait until several years from now when you can really see those blessings. Congratulations on the Onion Dip and Ruffles. I am proud of you for such determination :)

  2. While never having the "right" thing to say Joppas,other than- we will continue to pray and thank God for you still being here...,having the medical where-with-all to continue treatments the professionals He has put in place decide to do so, and your energy and humor to try and stay focused and positive through it alll. We love you all greatly and will always. PRAYING,g and c