The Other Beginning

You ever been blind sided?  I mean REALLY blind sided.  T-boned in a car accident?  Caught your spouse in a wicked lie?  Had your life change in an instant?

The first time, while it was a shock, the days and appointments led up to an inevitable diagnosis.  When my nurse called, I knew what she'd say.  Dave and I were, in a manner, ready for it.

The second time. May 30, 2018.  I got punched in the face.  Or I guess more accurately I got punched in the head from behind.  Never saw it coming.

In winter 2018 I threw my back out brushing my teeth.  (I know, ridiculous.)  But when I brush sometimes I go too far to the back of my mouth and I gag, like when you dry heave or vomit.  And yup, that seizing of my mid-section threw my back out.  I think I missed two days of work and anytime I moved a certain way I would yelp like a wounded puppy.

Throughout the winter and early spring my back was in and out of pain.  I missed 5k races, barked in pain at work meetings, missed more days of work.  Some days I was nearly pain free but other days I could barely stand upright.  I've had sciatica since 2000.  It would get aggravated at times.  My back always flared up with pregnancy or a small tweak.  But nothing this intense or as extended in time had happened before.  So my oncologist (you see your oncologist on a rather regular basis when you're a survivor, but I also work at my hospital and see my physicians and nurses frequently), she recommended that I see a spine doctor.  I made an appointment.

In May 2018 I met with the APRN of one of our finest orthopedic physicians.  She took an x-ray and learned about my medical history.  Based on that medical history, which included a chemotherapy that damages the bones, she ordered an MRI.  Ten days later, I went in for an MRI at 8:30 am.  By 1 pm I was dying.

My oncologist and nurses will tell you that I'm not dying.  I am "first line relapse", or something like that.  Yes, my cancer is now metastatic.  It means that I had breast cancer and now that cancer has spread to other parts of my body. In my case, it's all throughout my spine and pelvic bones.  There is no cure.  But there are drugs that weren't even on the market five years ago that can prolong my life.  These drugs didn't exist when my mother-in-law died of the disease nine years ago.  She was re-diagnosed in March and was gone by August.  I have already outlived that timeline.  God bless research.

My doctors and nurses will tell you that I'm not dying.  But in truth, I am.  It won't be tomorrow or next week.  Hell, I look perfectly normal.  No one would be the wiser.  And sick as this sounds, some of you reading this may pass away before I do.  But I have cancer that cannot be cured and I am dying a long and slow death.  It may be two years it may be twenty.  It may be decades if they keep making new drugs.

When you're blind sided you get a blessing and a curse.  I may die young.  And in the meantime, I get to live like I was dying.  There is a gift in that. 

It's my other beginning.


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