Last Wednesday, I started my last cycle of Xeloda. Before last week, I thought I could take on more cycles and had even asked my oncologist if I should. Short answer- she said no. Well, that doc knows what she’s doing. My mouth now feels speckled in sores and the bottoms of my feet are beginning to feel inflamed and painful. I’ve also had some queasy moments where I’m pretty the sure the X is to blame. So, I’m excited to be done with Xeloda this coming Wednesday- it’s really starting to drag me down.
I think I often give off this vibe of someone who has been able to put on a happy face and move along with life post diagnosis. I mean, I get it. I always have this damn smile on my face. But I think I’ve mentioned in the past- I smile when I’m happy, nervous, scared… Some days are easy, I feel strong and fearless. Other days, I want to crawl under my covers and hide from reality. C has proven to be a complete mind f*@$.
With that being said, I feel that there’s a need for me to put some information out there. Because I often forget that I was thrown into all of this and had to learn what was up- real quick. And that it’s not true for everyone reading this.
While I fully intend on never dealing with this shit again, I also understand that reoccurrence and metastasis are real things that I need to be aware of. I have several friends who have recently been diagnosed as stage 4 and it hurts my heart. Stage 4 means that the cancer has spread beyond its primary site. Note- The common sites of metastasis are bone, liver, and lung. People will often refer to this as “mets”. Mets can occur no matter your original staging. (For example, I was stage 3 at initial diagnosis.)
When/if someone has been declared “cancer free”, if their doctor even uses that term, or in remission- it’s not the end all, be all. We still tend to live in fear and panic with any and every new ache, pain, cough, etc. Fear that the jerk has returned, and if so- what’s next?
For example, last Saturday morning I went to Urgent Care for a back ache I had for 2 weeks. Yes, a back ache- where most people would pop some Advil and continue on. Not me, the pain had me believing that something was wrong. The doctor truly believed it was a muscular issue but I think she could see the panic in my face and ordered X-rays. Thankfully, she emailed me later that morning that all looked fine and she wished me a good weekend. Yes, it would be a good one with that news.
I wish I could say that this was the first time I’ve freaked out and had xrays. But I can’t. And I’m pretty sure it wont be the last time.
So I ask you all to be gentle with those who have been diagnosed, no matter the stage or where they are in the timeline of it all. There is sure to be some serious emotional and physical trauma to follow. Also, remember- if someone doesn’t look “sick”, don’t assume that all is ok. Not all chemos make you lose your hair, brows, lashes, and color in your face. And you never know what’s hiding under their clothes.
A couple more tips-
Never expect someone to be “back to their old selves” once treatment is over. We too, would love to go back to life the way it was before- but it’s not that easy.
Know that someone could have done everything “right” the first time around and still get a reoccurance or mets. Do not blame them.
And I will always include this tip, don’t tell someone about a person you know who had C and died. We understand that you are probably just trying to relate but that one doesn’t help. Talk about awkward…
I guess a blanket tip could be this— Always be kind to one another because you never know what they have got going on.
On a lighter note- yoga is going pretty freaking great. I’m learning so much and find myself applying the knowledge to my everyday life. On a physical level, my practice is much stronger and the range of motion in my right shoulder is blowing my mind! I wasn’t sure if I’d ever be able to lift my right arm over my head again but heck yeah, I can. I thought for sure the mastectomy, lymph node removal, and radiation would have done me in- restricting me forever. But with lots of patience, stretching, foam rolling, and strengthening- things are really improving.
I will update after Xeloda is complete and when I have an idea of what- if anything- is next. ✌🏻