Friday, February 4, 2011

The Waterslide

It's been about nine months since our cancer journey began.  If I had to describe what it's been like in terms of some water park slide, it started out as slow gentle descent, then a quick downward plunge (biopsy revealed malignant cancer), a steep long downward incline (culminating with the first surgery to remove the supposed breast cancer), a flattening out as we absorbed the treatment regime to come as typical for breast cancer patients (surgery, chemo, radiation) - even though at that time we believed she had the more difficult to address "triple negative" breast cancer- a cancer that was not caused by 3 different estrogen fuel sources.  Then a rise from hope and optimism (a false rise), followed by a steep long downward spiral after the second surgery and diagnosis of Stage 4 melanoma (hard to forget that 10:15pm call from our oncologist in late August).  Since then it has been a series of drops and rises on a slow descent. Sometimes some really sharp drops, such as when we had to tell the boys over Skype. The rises are all based on hopes for treatment, and the periods of time in between scans or doctor visits, helped enormously by positive events in our lives (boys coming home for the holidays, Meagan's 50th birthday party). The dips and drops are based on treatment ineffectiveness, switching to different treatment regimes, and thinking about and discussing prognosis and outcomes.  At times we have periods of relative stability where we aren't thinking so much about cancer.
It's difficult to describe how challenging it is to deal with this emotional roller coaster (yes,switching metaphors here). We've had various bits of advice offered - from adopting a martial artist (ninja) mindset (bend like a willow, but remain strongly rooted and balanced) to adopting coping tools (meditation, yoga, exercise,and of course therapy, and medication - anti-anxiety and anti-depressants).  Humor has helped- like when Meagan suggested she could get a tattoo connecting all the scars from her surgeries and form some sort of constellation. Or when we realized that it might be possible she would go through menopause twice if the melanoma was unrelated to her hormones and she went off the drugs which induced menopause. I would be like Job in the bible- a wife with cancer, going through menopause twice, what next, a plague of locusts?

No comments:

Post a Comment