Where are my keys...?

We woke up early for our 8am appointment at Stanford.  Neither one of us slept well in the hotel the night before - being kept awake with anticipation  and anxiety.  We had back to back doctors circulating through the room sharing information about the medical trial.  Pros and Cons of doing it…what it would require of me…what the side effects would be…what the commitment would mean….But, they also shared how the benefits for someone like me are promising on this drug.  Promising…those words I need to circulate through my body.  I need them through my veins and to translate into results.  I need some promising news and a promising treatment.  It isn’t common that someone burns through so many treatments in a year.  I will be on my 5th treatment.  Most people have something that sticks…it might only be for 6 months or a year, but that’s still time.  Then you get on something else…and through time, you string enough treatments together that time adds up and eventually you find something that’s sticks, or something is created in the meantime that wasn’t there before and you have another option.  My options are dwindling.  I need something to stick.  I need to stop this progression.  I need a reprieve physically but more importantly, I need a break emotionally.

After four hours of doctors sharing information…and Ecco cardiogram, and EKG it was time for the dreaded blood work up.  My levels had to be at 1.5 or higher to get accepted.  They were at 1.5 the week before….so right at the cut off point.  I have stressed for weeks about this blood work since I naturally run low with my white blood cells.  One trick I have learned is if you exercise right before the draw, it helps.  They called my name…I told them to give me 15 mins and I bolted outside running around the hospital three times.  Then I went inside and sprinted five flights of stairs over and over.  Then I went back in the waiting room standing in front of my blood draw chair doing jumping jacks in place till they were ready.  Time to wait in the balance.  Time to hop back on the roller coaster of waiting for another phone call… to either experience an emotional high or crashing low.  Then a wildcard was thrown in.  I’ve learned that nothing in the medical business is black and white – lots and lots of grey.  I was told that I would need a brain MRI and it had to be clear to get in the trial.  Crap.  I wasn’t planning on having this done for three more weeks.  Another roller coaster ride of my mind spinning out on ‘what ifs’.  “The soonest we can get you in for the MRI is 7:00pm tonight’…  Ugg.  Great.  Scramble to see if the sitter can stay another night with the girls (thank you Christina!!) and get home past 1am.  At this point, it’s official…I am sooo over three years of enduring stuff like this.

We walk outside to get the car so we can grab lunch and kill time before our 7pm appointment.  As we’re waiting for the valet to get our car, an older southern couple sits down on the bench next to me.  She has silver hair and I think to myself like I have a 100xs before…I want silver hair.  I envy your age.  I'm jealous of your wisdom and experiences.  I so so badly want to grow old.  She groans as she sits down and in her sweet southern drawl looks at me and says, “Phew - Don’t ever get old honey…” then she chuckles.  I reply to her gradmotherly warmness and say, “It’s a blessing to be old…”  Little did she know that I was fighting for more time.  Little did she know that I was begging for my age to creep up.   “You are right honey, all my grandkids are the blessing of my old age…Ohh, and there’s our car…Have a good day and take care y’all!” she said standing up heading to her car.

A half hour passed and our car still hadn’t showed up.  I finally found a valet worker and said – “Hey, we’ve been waiting (at this point exhausted from information overload and so hungry…) and haven’t gotten our car”.  “Well, ‘mam….Uggg…We’ve parked over 600 cars today and we are working on it.” I read between the lines…”Did you loose the keys to our car?” I said.  ”Uggg….No ‘mam…we didn’t loose them….we just can’t find them”.     What?! 

This turned into shenanigans and running around and checking pockets and intercom alerts and stressing how we would get home without keys….and then toss in there me having a serious melt down repeating to Mark over and over through sobs…”It’s not about the keys…It about everything!”  Later Mark told me that he had a split second thought…Yup, she’s snapped….She might not come back from this one.  This was the straw for her. Fast forward two hours later after I mopped myself up and pulled it together and the phone call came in…”We found your keys”.  Ten minutes after that the phone rang again….”Michelle, your blood counts were high enough!!”.  Yes!! Buckle up…going back up the roller coaster!!!  YEW-HEW!

What a perfect analogy for what I am going through.  For 3 years I have felt like I have lost the golden keys to my life.  I have been searching looking for something I can’t find.  It has eluded me.  It has been so close I can sense it – feel it – almost grasp it…and at times it has been so far away I am completely in the dark bumping into walls trying to find the light.  People offer well meaning advice...'You need to eat more bee pollen' - ' You need to release harbored bitterment' -  'You need to fast more' - 'This is the universe telling you to relinquish control since you like to control things'.  These words at times are confusing and hurtful at 2:00 in the morning.  This isn't my fault.  I got a bad hand at DNA cards.  That's what it is...simple as that.  Still, I constantly ask myself...Where are my keys?  Where is the answer to get me out of this situation?  Why can’t I find it?  Why can’t I fix this?!  It is the worst overarching feeling to constantly try to solve the biggest problem of your life.  A problem that is threatening your actual life.  I can’t turn it off – I don’t get a reprieve – and every conversation and person I talk to revolves around this exact thing.  My situation.  I’m so sick of it.  I’m so sick of every aspect of my world circling the drain about this topic.  It’s exhausting and I’m loosing myself, and my identity in the process.

Two long days later, I finally get the call…”Michelle, you’re in.  You’ve been accepted in the trial”.  Tears flowed and I couldn’t even talk.  My joy was absolutely off the charts.  I truly felt like the weight of the world was lifted off of me.  Dancing through this high I realized yet again…with the intense lows…the highs are equally magnified.  I walked the walk…I jumped through the hoops, I showed up…and I got into a trial that is promising for me.  I thought as the day went on….if I could share a sliver of clarity with others from this particular experience what would it be.  It would be to stop complaining.  When things are good, let them be good.  Don’t sabotage them…don’t get in your own way…don’t worry about when they will pass or what may go wrong.  Just be quiet….don’t complain…say thank you and flippin’ enjoy it!  This feeling of having something go well – of me catching a break after months of many many lows….is ohh so sweet and feels ohh so good.  And so today, I will savor it because there will be a time when the roller coater will twist and turn back down…but I'm not focusing on that because I’ve learned that the highs are far to precious to sacrifice them for what may be in a low in the future.  

Be here now.  Savor now.  Say thank you now.  Now is the only thing that’s really real.

That's the Key...


  1. Thank you for your courage to share your story. You don't know me but I too have had breast cancer--stage 2b. I also have two little ones, two little boys. My oncologist told me that I have a 45% chance of recurrence over my lifetime. Sometimes that scares me so much that I lose sight of today. Today is a gift with my babies. Thank you for reminding me of that. You are in my prayers, as well as your beautiful family. With Jesus, miracles are STILL possible.

    1. Blessings to you sweet soul. This life is a gift. Don't steal if from yourself. xx Michelle


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