Do I Still Have Cancer?
Ethan and I managed really well over the weekend. I feel certain I did not pick up the bug he was carrying; I’m sure this is due to his thoughtfulness about using gobs of Purell. It was pretty cute – after rubbing his face, coughing into his hands or using the bathroom, he’d run at top speed to wherever the bottle of Purell was sitting, hit the pump of the bottle a couple of times, rub like crazy, wave his hands in the air a few times and race back to the activity the was doing. He claimed that using Purell was faster than washing his hands with soap and water. Such a kid way of thinking!
Ethan taught me how to play Uno, and he even tutored me on playing the X-Box version of Star Wars Legos. I still don’t get how to do the controls. When I was supposed to be shooting, I’d find myself hitting the button that would make me jump or run or change into another character. It didn’t seem to matter to Ethan. He was happy to have me join him, no matter how pitiful my skill level.
When I wasn’t involved things that took my mind off cancer, I found myself perplexed about my current situation. The question that kept popping up for me was – so, do I still have cancer? Since the tumor and cancerous lymph nodes were removed during surgery, does that mean that I no longer have cancer? Instead of saying, "I have breast cancer," can I now say, "I had breast cancer?"
I realize that I'm still moving into the next and necessary phase of the cancer process, but I wonder if chemotherapy, radiation therapy and hormone blocking therapy are done to "wring the rag dry?" so to speak? Are they just-in-case-you-might-still-have cancer-lurking-in-your-body treatments rather than something done because one definitely still has cancer?
I'll be sure to pose these questions to my medical oncologist, Dr. Massimo Cristofanilli (isn't that a great name!?) who I'll see tomorrow. I'm curious to know what he has to say. While meeting with him, I'll also learn about the types of drugs that will be used during chemo, the effects of those drugs, and I'll also get my chemo schedule - how long and how frequently I'll receive treatment. Although I have a sense of what’s on the forefront for me, I’ll be glad to have more specific information that’s tailored for the type cancer I have (or had).
I still have not fully internalized that I’m in the midst of “this” experience. I never dreamed (or better yet “nightmared”) that I would be wondering if I still have cancer, or if I’ll have a smooth or bumpy ride with chemotherapy, or how my already sensitive skin will respond to radiation therapy, or when the heck my drain tube is finally going to be ready to be removed?
As is my nature, I will push through this, just as I would push through any other challenge. I’ll be looking for the good that will come from the experience; I’ll count my lucky stars for the support I have along the way, and I’m sure to be stronger on the other side of this.
Lots of love, Lisa (April 23, 2007)
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sorry for so many! Hello again! So soon! I just received an email that your Carepages was updated, so I quickly stopped my work and logged in to read your message.
I guess this whole "cancer thing" is a bit perplexing...you are thinking of things and questioning situations in which you never imagined yourself. I think asking the doctor is a great way to voice your thoughts and get some feedback.
I forgot to tell you about my "vegetarian weekend" last week! I decided that since you were going through such a difficult time, I would show my support by eating a vegetarian diet from Friday morning through Sunday night. Now, I have to preface this by telling you how much I LOVE meat!! :) I could totally live on steak and potatoes!! I had tons of veggies and fruit and then Saturday night came along - a BBQ for my cousin's birthday. My Uncle makes the best brisket and I walked into the kitchen and grabbed a bowl and ate some beans. My Uncle looked at me with a strange look on his face and asked where my plate was? I told him what I was doing and he said, really proudly, "Well, I commend you for doing this for your friend. But can you take a plate home and eat some later?!?!" I made it through the entire weekend and actually felt a lot better Monday morning. I think it is such a wonderful way of life and I have noticed that my eating habits have changed a bit since that weekend. I still enjoyed a ham sandwich yesterday, but overall, I am eating healthier. :)
Well, the bell just rang and 8th period has begun! I guess I need to get back to work! Take care and I look forward to hearing about your next dr's visit!! XOXO
Hey Girl Sending good thoughts your way as always. It was nice talking to you yesterday!
Reply from another survivor. Hi Lisa, You probably don't remember me; I'm a friend of Prue's who met you briefly in Ami's hospital room. But I've been following your CarePages and sending you silent support messages as you confronted one stressful day after another. My own experience was far less taxing than yours--I was lucky enough to be caught in stage 1, so the surgery was minimal and the chemo deemed unnecessary, but the empathy is still there.
One quick answer to your question, which your oncologist will give in much more detail. As of now, no one can find a trace of cancer in your body. But there is always the possibility of undetectable microscopic tumors, so lumpectomies are always followed up by either chemo and radiation or radiation alone, depending on stage and size of tumor (people with Stage 1 who choose total mastectomy can often skip radiation, and I know some people who have made that choice).
I hope this is helpful for the interim, until you discuss it with your oncologist. All the best; I'm cheering for you. M. W.
Hey Lisa Thank you for being so diligent in keeping your Carepages updated for us all. It means so much to so many to feel a direct connection to you. I'm glad you had a delightful weekend with Ethan. Kids can always bring laughter and fun in to any room. Good for you for being on top of everything and what a great kiddo to go for that Purell all the time!
We are finishing up Literature Circles. I have decided that it is not one of my favorite lessons.....and it lasts for 3 weeks, too! We are about to embark on legends, myths, fairy tales, fables, and tall tales. That will be loads more fun for the teachers and students.
My daughter, A, is leaving this Sunday to tour the country for a year with her job. I cannot believe she is so independent to take this on. I'll share more with you later.
Keep doing what you're doing to get well, and tell Nat to continue to jump if you need brownies or banana pudding! Love, C.
Thinking of you I'm a little brain dead today, so this will be short. I think I have TAKS-lag instead of jet lag. I'm so sorry I wasn't there this weekend to learn how to play a game on Ethan's xbox! Love your doc's last name. By the time you learn how to say it your chemo will be over with!!!!! Hugs! M.
You are impressive Prue told me you were articulate, and she was right. The clarity of your thinking and the startlingly clear way you talk about cancer shifts my understanding of how intelligence conquers uncertainty and doubt. So glad you are expressing these thoughts. They will be such a great record for you to have when you are fully recovered. Look forward to you and Nat visiting New York - P.
Hello Lisa It is good to see your responses and know that you are feeling better each day. I have been reading your musings and although I haven't been able to respond as quickly as I might (SDAA and TAKS check in :/ have been VERY exciting!), you have still been in my thoughts and prayers.
In one of my former roles, I was Coordinator over Homebound Services for the district. As you know, these services are provided to students who are out of the classroom setting for more than 4 weeks with significant illnesses. Reading your responses brings back the conversations I had with the students and the teachers who were in their homes on a regular basis and re-affirms the inner strength of the human spirit.
You have an amazing spirit. Thank you for continuing to keep all of us updated. Many of us on the Curriculum Council are reading your responses and are thinking of you. L.
Still by your side!! Oh my gosh, you are so awesome and I truly am blessed by our friendship. Every entry you post speaks to me directly. The courage you are demonstrating helps me to see the world with a different perspective, one of compassion for others and strength to endure life's daily challenges with grace and a smile. Reading about you playing video games with Ethan speaks to me directly. Our lifestyle is so busy that when we finally are home I am consumed with the priority of laundry and cleaning so as a result I have never sat down to play a video game with T. Tonight, (once we are finished with homework), I am going to play Star Wars with him, for sure!! I know he will love it, that's all he talks about, and I just don't get it because I have never played with him. I know I need to take advantage of joining him in his activities while he still wants me to, because I know that one day he might rather I didn't join him. So...I'll tell you how bad I am at Star Wars tomorrow. Any tips would be helpful. In the meantime, hang in there. I love your writing and your strength to be honest with all of us. I've got proof that the cold mechanics of technology can provide a real, warm, connection between friends.
Blessings continue! …As I read through some of the messages left for you, I see that you are loved and cared for by many, many people. Let that help you. And people are going to want to help - by bringing over food, or offering to do errands, etc. - let them! That will make them feel like they are helping in some small way. It is your job to fight the monster. That's your job. You are never alone in your fight. You will be amazed at all the love and support that people will give you. There will be those times that you will let your defenses down and cry - do that too. It's all important.
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