Re-assessing this chemo thing

Let me explain myself

At the risk of repeating myself… the type of breast cancer I have is called Triple negative. Triple Negative is seen in about 15% of all breast cancers. Triple Negative is a very aggressive cancer that tends to strike younger women, pre-menopause, especially among African-American women and women who have BRCA1 mutations. (Where do I fit in with that? I’ll go with the ‘younger women’ label ha ha). The tumor tends to be fast growing and is less likely to show up on an annual mammogram. TN is more likely to metastasis early on; has a high rate of recurrence in the first 2-3 years from diagnosis and has a poorer prognosis than other types of breast cancer due to lack of specific, targeted treatment for TNBC.

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Is that even possible?

So with that in mind… I don’t intent to ‘fight’ it, as it’s wasted energy. How do you ‘keep calm and fight’? How are you being positive if you’re fighting? That’s an oxymoron. I am peacefully believing I will be healed but also taking measures to appreciate what I have around me and live life to the max. This comes from being faced with life being frail.

People don’t like me (or anyone) to speak of death. It’s a forbidden word. It’s ‘negative’. Death doesn’t scare me. Being incapacitated does. Living a superficial life does. Living a life where I don’t take opportunities does. Living life with bitterness and hostility does. Is that morbid? Perhaps some would see it as so. If I don’t take a lesson from facing my mortality then what was the point of the journey? This year has taught me so many things but if I’d refused to think about the ‘negatives’ I would have learned nothing.

Sometimes fighting and denying stops you from growing. You don’t have to agree with me. It’s just how I feel. It’s not consuming me, I’m upbeat and joyful… so don’t worry about my mental state! As I said, I’m peacefully believing I will get through this… but not fighting. I want to spent quality time with those I’m blessed to have in my life.

The weight of a blog

I’ve had 28,121 hits on my blog. I know that a lot of my readers are friends and close family. They like to read about my progress so that we can chat about ‘ordinary things’ when we meet up instead of health issues. My blog also has readers who are just interested in my journey. This includes people with breast cancer. I have been contacted by 100s of people who have been reading this blog. 2 of them are people who didn’t have breast cancer but were diagnosed recently after reading my blog posts. Of course they didn’t catch it from my blog (!) but they both said that having read my journey they felt more prepared and ready for what was ahead of them.

Gee… sometimes I sit down to write a blog post and I find it difficult to find the words. With such a diverse audience, it’s tricky.  I want to be ‘positive’ but honest as well. I don’t want to worry my loved ones. I don’t want to frighten people who are having chemo etc. I don’t want to make cancer a scary thing. Writing can be a tough gig and today is no exception.

 My last chemo on Tuesday?

The last 2-3 weeks have been my most difficult. I’ve gone from running 15km a week and being very active to feeling extremely drowsy. My muscles have all become weak. Even getting dressed makes my arms go to jelly. My legs almost give away climbing my front stairs. I have restricted myself to 2 hours sleep in the afternoon but I could almost take to the bed all day. My left eye muscles keep twitching. My eye sight is fuzzy and so is my brain. Well that’s been pretty fuzzy for a while now he he.

I’ve had blood tests at my GP’s instigation and have slight anaemia but that doesn’t seem to be the issue. It could be many things, including peripheral neuropathy which is likely to get worse after the next chemo dose. Colin and I decided that if I got PN we would stop treatment as it can be permanent. Do I want to spend Christmas in bed or do I want to spend it with my loved ones? Hmmm. That’s not a hard decision for me.

Given that there is no evidence that this chemo is working any better than the other 2 lots will it make any difference?  Apparently this sucker is chemo resistant. I’ve had 17 chemo doses now and I’m tired of them. What a sook. I know I only have one left and I should just have it and get it over and done with but the last 4 doses were only suggested ‘because I’ve been tolerating chemo so well’. They were to clear lingering cancer cells from my blood that might plant elsewhere. The doctors at Maroondah had a forum about my ‘unusual case’ and half said I should have more chemo and the other half said that it probably wouldn’t make a difference. I agreed to have more because it hadn’t made me too sick. Now I’m not so sure.

Let’s see what the doctor says next Tuesday.  A nice break before I start 25 days of radiotherapy could be nice:) I’m blessed with amazing friends and family who will tell me to shut up when I need it. Perhaps they won’t understand this decision but it’s nothing to do with giving up. It’s to do with perspective and faith.

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3 comments

  1. Jenny, you write with as much skill as you paint and draw, and you write with honesty and courage: you move me. I enjoyed your tweets before you took ill and I enjoy – in spite of the subject – your blogs. Thank you. Bernie

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  2. Jenny – you have heard many times what an amazing person you are – and this is so so true! Your honesty about your treatment and how you feel at times is inspirational – not only to those who are experiencing what you are but also to so many others! It Is a hard decision for you but you will know if you have made the right one – go with your gut feeling – we are all there with you !!!! xx Yvonne xx

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