Sunday, August 10, 2014

Pereseverance and Hope...Continuing to move forward

"Those at the top of the mountain, didn't fall there."

As I stand at the base of the mountain called "Treatment #9" I am reminded that to overcome and climb this mountain I once again face alot of hardship, struggles and difficult days. As I near the end of the treatment cycle of two weeks, I see a glimpse of "Michelle before cancer" lurking beneath the surface of the fatigue and lack of energy. I begin to feel a little bit like my old self, just enough to give me the strength and perseverance to keep moving forward.

The past few weeks have been a mixture of difficult realizations and wonderful experiences.

Difficult because I am reminded on a daily basis that my levels are fatigue are increasing and cumulating as they told me would happen. Simple tasks are so draining, only someone who has lived through this could possibly understand. I start my day feeling relatively strong, and able, as the day continues if I don't make sure to recharge my battery as I talked about in my last blog post, I will crumble into tears and require twice as much time to function. I have said this so many times to Jason "I am so tired of being tired." Difficult because my hair has continued to thin and fall out, I can be found in a variety of head scarves, funky hats and wigs. While on the outside, I can be often found smiling and poking fun of my new look, it takes a toll on my self-esteem and when I face the mirror I see such a different Michelle, it is my new reality for some months to come. Difficult because right after the last treatment I had considerable back pain near my kidneys. It scared me and I required some heavy-duty pain killers. We were almost back in emergency and was significant enough that my oncologist's nurse phoned me daily to check on my symptoms. We did not find the cause and I worry about it happening again tomorrow at my next treatment. It is causing me some anxiety, another struggle I am coping with every day.

Fast forward gears to the wonderful. The past few weeks have had many moments where the sun was shining down on us and the Low family were enjoying life. We were fortunate enough to spend a week at the cottage. This was made possible by CCAC and the Red Cross Care Partners. A simple request resulted in a nurse coming directly to our cottage in Wiarton on Colpoy's Bay to change my PICC line dressing (as it needs to be done once a week). Due to my white blood cell counts continuing to be significantly non-existent, the nurse comes directly to me rather than me going to a clinic or hospital. This was carried through with no issues at all. We had a wonderful family week at the cottage, sitting on the dock, reading books, watching the kids in the water, archery, ATVing, playing games. We were able to visit my parents in Southampton and have some time with my sweet niece and nephew. Our days this past weekend were very busy and although I made it through I did have a reminder that I just can't keep up to our schedule as I used to. We celebrated my dear friend's birthday with dinner al fresco and fireworks. And the highlight of my weekend was a visit on our 17th wedding anniversary to my best friend Jacquie's to meet her new baby Summer. Summer is a true miracle and an example for Jacquie and her husband Jeff that miracles can happen and that believing and never giving up hope will result in greatness. Despite the odds, Jacquie and Jeff have their beautiful little girl and I have the utmost respect and admiration for what they have been through. They are an inspiration to me as I need to instill the same perseverance and hope to believe in myself when the days are dark and I don't feel like I can go on.

So I move forward, after tomorrow 3 treatments left. I have an appointment with my oncologist tomorrow so it will be a long day at the hospital. Thank you to my friends for their visits the past few weeks, your support helps me in more ways than I can describe. Even the shortest of visits breaks up my days and makes me feel some resemblance of a "normal existence" outside of bed or the couch. This next week, short visits are about all I am able to conquer. I welcome your contact and please know that despite the difficulties I have described, I know in my heart, I am doing incredibly well and that there are other people who face far greater battles than I.

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