Thursday, May 30, 2013

Did You Miss Me?

Hello family, friends and fans!

Yes, I know it's been 18 months since I've posted an entry in my last blog,, but there's a reason for that! I made it a point to finish the story of my cancer journey on a high note. I wanted the first post-treatment, clear scan to set the tone for the rest of my life. I wanted everything to be positive and happy. I told myself I wouldn't write again unless the unthinkable happened.

Unless the cancer came back...

Well, I'm happy to say that, so far, my scans and check-ups have been normal. So far it seems I'm beating the beast into submission. So far I can try and get my life back to normal. So why am I posting?

Because I NEED to write!

I have so many things going on in my head and I find myself coming up with ideas and even exact lines of text I need to share. I love writing. Through my treatments, writing kept me sane. It helped me to express my feelings, without having to speak, when I was just too drained or sick. It helped me to figure out exactly what was going on in my brain when no one else could. So, here I am. I'm back and I'm ready to update you on all that's been happening and all that I hope WILL happen very, very soon.

So, why the morbid title, you ask?

Good question! A few nights ago, my mom and I headed to New York City to see Tom Hanks in Lucky Guy on Broadway. Just a side note here: I've found that, since having cancer, I see or hear about the damn disease everywhere I go. I can't read a book or go to a movie without someone in it dying of cancer. Even the comedies! And Lucky Guy was no exception. It's the story of the reporter turned columnists, Mike McAlary, who was an icon in the 80s and 90s. Anyway, a little more than halfway through the show, Mike, played by Tom Hanks, finds out he has cancer. After I let out an audible groan and whispered, "Of course he has cancer!" to my mom, the character uttered a line that I forced myself to repeat over and over in my head to make sure I wouldn't forget it. He said:

"Finding out you have cancer is a lot like waking up on death row."

Honestly, until that moment, I had never thought about it that way. But the truth of that one, simple sentence completely blew my mind. Death Row. That's exactly how my life feels. I'm a prisoner just waiting for my execution date. No, I haven't actually been given a death sentence. But it doesn't matter whether I'm told the cancer is gone or in remission, I'm still constantly thinking about if and when it will come back and take me down. When a "normal" person has a headache, she'll go to the medicine cabinet, down a few Tylenol and move on with her life. When I get a headache, I wonder when I should call the oncologist to set up a brain MRI, since I'm SURE the cancer has now landed there. And when I think about planning trips, I try to do it before the next CT scan, that way I'm pretty sure I'll actually be able to go. Anything booked after a scan is in serious danger of being canceled, so I always make sure to buy trip insurance.

I will admit, though, the one good thing about being a cancer "survivor", if that's even what I am, is that I've learned to really get out there and live. Every time I think I shouldn't spend money on more vacations (within the current scan period) or gift or pairs of shoes, I think to myself, 'Fuck it! I deserve it!' There's an 80% chance my cancer will come back and kill me. Why shouldn't I spend my money now? I mean, I can't take it with me, right? Of course, if I beat the odds I'll be financially screwed, but I can't worry about that now, right?

There's the obligatory title explanation. Now onto the next chapter of my life.

Since my last post in November of 2011, I've had five more CT scans. As I've said, they've all been clear so far. I've been going every three months or so, with my next one scheduled for the last week of July. If that one is ok, they MAY try and switch my scan schedule to every six months, though I don't know if I'm mentally ready for that yet. You see, what people don't realize is that cancer is more of a mental disease than a physical one. Yes, the cells are in your body and they're slowly eating your healthy cells and taking over. But a lot of times the cancer patients can't even feel the evil menace growing inside of them at all. That's why there are so many people who don't even know they're sick until it's too late. And the ones who do find out "in time" are usually more physically ill from the treatments they're given to combat the cancer. Or even sicker from the medicines they're given to counteract the side effects of the treatments to combat the cancer. But, after all the surgeries and chemo and radiation, if you're lucky enough to still be breathing, that's when the hard part really begins.

Your body may heal, but your mind never will.

Cancer is always on my mind and I hate it. No, I didn't die. But I'm almost too scared to live. Cancer has changed me. In some ways I'm much stronger than I ever thought I could be. I speak my mind, I get out of one-sided friendships, I'm no longer afraid to fly. I mean, seriously, wouldn't you rather be killed instantly after quickly falling from the sky or in a long, painful, ugly battle with cancer? I'll take the plane crash, please. But, in other ways, I'm so weak. I can't commit to anything. What? There's a concert I want to see in August? Oh, it's after my next scan? I don't want to buy tickets I might not be able to use. Living in fear sucks.

Ok, back to what I've been up to since my last post. Jimmi and I FINALLY got to go on our postponed honeymoon to the Tahitian islands, Taha'a and Bora Bora. It was more amazing than we ever could've dreamed. My hair started growing back six weeks after treatments ended, and it's just now at what I'd call an "acceptable" length. I need to add another side note: If you know anyone who will be going through chemo, do NOT downplay the hair loss thing. Saying, "It's only hair. It'll grow back." belittles our feelings and makes us feel like we're being shallow and vain as we watch clumps of our beauty fall to the shower floor. And if the person is someone, like me, who has always had long hair and feels totally uncomfortable and not at all like herself without it, when it starts to grow back and is only a few inches long, refrain from phrases like, "Oh my God! I LOVE your hair like that! Don't you just LOVE it?!" Ummmm...why the HELL would I love it? I didn't CHOOSE to cut it short. I don't WANT it short. Every time I look in the mirror I have a constant reminder of cancer looking back at me. So, no, I don't love it. Rant over.

Wow. I didn't realize how much I really needed to get out of my head! Ok, moving on.

My boys are doing well. They're 12 and 10 now. These ages are so cool because they still hug and kiss me, but they're pretty self-sufficient. I don't have to dress them or wipe them or feed them. They can do it all themselves. My boys are my world and they make me smile every day (they also make me crazy every day!) but there just seems to be something missing.

Before my surgery, Jimmi and I made a quick decision to have my eggs harvested and freeze embryos so there could be a small amount of hope to have children of our own one day. Obviously, I'd need someone else to carry them, but at least we'd have a shot. We ended up with 16 eggs. All 16 were fertilized, 14 made it to the freezing stage, those 14 were tested for abnormalities and we were left with 12 healthy, happy embryos who have been chilling out in a super duper freezer for the last two years. Sounds great, in theory, but actually making the decision to implant these little buggers into someone else's uterus has brought up more issues than couples without the Cancer Monster lurking in the closet would have to consider.

What if I die?

You're all yelling at me and screaming, "You're not gonna die!" aren't you? Well, guess what? I very well might. And PLEASE don't tell me that you could get hit by a bus tomorrow!! That used to be my mom's favorite rebuttal until I explained that she doesn't live in fear of being hit by a bus. The likelihood of Small Cell Neuroendocrine Carcinoma of the Cervix coming back in the first five years of diagnosis is about 80%. If it comes back, the chances of it killing me are even greater. Seriously. Google it., that's my main concern. Dying and leaving not only the boys I have now, but any others we might defrost in the future. Am I being selfish to even consider this? Or am I allowed to try and live like the non-cancer population? Jimmi deserves to be a daddy, right? Or should I let him do that with his next wife after I'm gone? It's a joke, people! Laugh!

Who can we trust to carry our baby and keep it safe like I would?

Unless you have sisters, it's pretty difficult to find someone who loves you enough to be willing to give up her body for you. As I was blessed with four brothers, I'm not lucky enough to have the perfect carrier in my back pocket. Can I trust a stranger? How can I ask my friends to do this for me? Can't one of them just come forward and offer? I even posted a plea on Facebook offering a free vacation to anyone who would let me rent out her uterus for 9 months, but there weren't any takers.

Ok, that's it. I'll spare you the rest of my crazy thoughts and get to the to the main reason for starting this new blog.

In January of 2013, we decided it was time to get things moving and we started researching surrogacy agencies. We were given two recommendations from the fertility clinic who harvested my eggs and is storing our embryos. For privacy, I'll call them Agency A and Agency B. I called each one and had information packets sent out. I had preliminary phone interviews with both of them. I put the names of each one into my search engine and started to read. Only reviews of Agency A came up. From what I could tell, Agency B was much newer and didn't have enough clients for reviews. The write-ups on Agency A were generally good, it had been around a lot longer, it was owned by an attorney who could also do all the legal work and cut out the third party, which seemed convenient, and I also found out that a friend of a friend had used them in the past. So on January 4, 2013, we nervously headed out to a meeting with Agency A.

And that's when our new journey began.

1 comment:

  1. To a much lesser degree, I can certainly relate. Ever since my mother dropped dead of sudden brain cancer in her mid-50s, every headache I have sends me briefly into a spiral of panic. This can't happen to me! I have 3 young children who need me! But after 6 years of practicing, I am finally starting to feel a little more in control of the panicky thoughts. I remind myself that nothing is certain in this life-- good OR bad-- and that medical science makes miraculous advances daily. I focus on my kids, I focus on my blessings (to the extent an atheist can), and I remember to take each day as a gift. Hopefully you and I will have more gifts than we know what to do with! xoxoxo