Cancer, I'm coming for you.


It’s been a while since I’ve done a posting.  Largely because life has been really fun…filled with camping trips, travel, laughter and many moments of gratitude for my renewed health.  Mark and I have been over flowing with simple abundance in all aspects of our lives.  Life has been sweet, and we have been in the season of truly savoring it.
I ended my last treatment this past Sept.  Slowly time moved on and I got stronger in my footing of re-engaging in life.  Through time, I rounded a corner where every paper cut or head cold didn’t throw me into a panic that cancer had returned. It had been so long since I had felt good, that it took a bit to regain my confidence.  The risk for reoccurrence with my type of cancer (triple negative) is the highest in the first 2 years. I could taste the relief of reaching this milestone which was just a few short weeks away. I had started to day dream about my two year cancer free party (July 15th)… and the Champaign we would pop in celebration.  This day dream has been neatly wrapped back up, put in a box…high up on my mental shelf. 
Before my second diagnosis, we were in Mexico for our friend’s wedding.  While there, we caught up with lots of old friends and one of them (who is an oncology nurse) told me while we were floating in the pool with drinks in hand that the treatment regimen I went through was fierce, brutal and there was absolutely no way any cancer cells could have survived (that escaped through my lymph nodes).  She laughed with amazement, confidence, and pure conviction telling me “Michelle, you’re an F’ing animal”. This built up my confidence more.  I shut down the party every night in Mexico while telling everyone in our 20 person compound - over looking the ocean that life is short and I’m not going to waste one minute of fun sleeping.  Mark has always fondly said that "Mexico Michelle is his favorite” …I was absolutely high on life and grateful for every single bit of it.   
A few weeks later on May 28th, during a routine yearly checkup a blood test was taken.  I didn’t think much of it at all….till the doctor called me to tell me that the levels were through the roof.  While on the phone at work, my heart sunk, air escaped from my lungs and my eyes welled up.  I felt sick and out of my body.  A CAT scan followed and it happened to pickup the bottom part of my left lung. There was something there.  This led to tests upon tests, biopsy’s, waiting rooms, memorizing hold music melodies, begging receptionists to just get us in a few days earlier, research,  specialists, differing opinions, tears, anger, sorrow…and more  w a i t i n g.  Waiting to wake up and be released from this nightmare.  Waiting on a dozen test results that would shape my future.  Waiting to learn how bad it was.  Brain scans, bone scans, PET scans, and CAT scans.  Poked, prodded, paperwork.  Phone calls, placed on hold, transferred, hung up on.  Waiting to see if I was eligible for a medical trials.  Praying, begging, pledging at 3 am…in my pajamas under the moonlight.  Crying from a place I didn’t know existed. 
Bottomless sorrow and heartbreak.  My girls. Mark.  Life expectancy conversations with doctors.  The preciousness of it all.  The fragileness of it all.  The beauty of it all in the mist of this divine storm.  
How much time do I have? I feel like God showed me my hourglass full of sand…I just can’t see how fast my sand is moving….but unlike other people, I can see my hourglass, and it has narrowed down my life to a pinpoint. A pinpoint of only things and people that I love.  These last 3 weeks have brought on a bunch of thoughts about time.  What I want to do with my time.   How there is a nationwide epidemic of lack of time along with a disease of chronic busyness.  How people suffer from lack of patience from simple things like waiting in the grocery store line to their internet connection being too slow.  Overrun with busyness in maintaining their lives while not having any time to enjoy the life they created.  Dedicating time to being connected socially, yet struggling to connect in their moment to moment reality because they are crafting, manipulating, and staging a gram-able moment.  I too suffer from all of these things…but time looks different to me now.  Despite how difficult these weeks have been, time has actually slowed down.  I savor, relish and appreciate on a more meaningful level.  Time truly is a gift.  When I have cried from a place I didn’t know existed, I cry for myself.  The possibility of me missing my family and friends.  The possibility of missing future experiences that will never occur. Then I cry for the simple things I love…the sound of the ocean, taste of ice cream, the way warm sun feels on my skin, how I can’t ever go to sleep till my feet touch Marks… or most of all, the sound of my children laughing or telling me they love me.  I never once have cried thinking that I would miss a thing or possession.  Not once. Yet so much of our time is spent planning, thinking about, and acquiring things.  My sorrow is rooted in missing experiences un-had, moments un-lived, and the love lost from the enriching people that make my life so beautiful.   That’s what I’m heartbroken over…and in that is also where my hope resides.
I have always told Mark that I couldn’t handle hearing I have cancer twice.  Well, come to find out… I was wrong.  Like the endless love we all carry in your hearts, I’ve learned we also carry bottomless strength.  Courage and bravery are when you allow your strength and love to expand…instead of contract.  I refuse to let cancer take more than it already has.  I’m not wasting one minute worrying about the future I can’t control. I’m choosing to be in the moment and I’m choosing to be happy.  Courage is found in moments when I give thanks - despite the circumstances.
After driving to LA (which is an hour and a half each way without traffic) a zillion times in 3 weeks, we landed on a clinical trial at UCLA that I am eligible for.  I found out a couple days ago that I was randomized for the study drug called PARP inhibitor.  I desperately wanted this.  The doctor called and she was crying on the phone along with Mark and I while sharing this news.  I’ve got a shot. I’ve been waiting and counting down the days, hours and minutes till I can get that pill in my body.  As long as there is air in my lungs, a spirit full of fight, and twinkle in my eye… I’ve got one thing to say about this. 
Cancer, I’m coming for you. 

2 comments

  1. Michelle, I had no idea! I'm so sorry to hear about your reoccurrence. My heart and thoughts are with you, Mark and the girls. You're an amazingly strong woman and cancers got nothing on ya! X

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