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November, 2012

  1. La la la la!

    November 2, 2012 by Momma Bear

    That’s me, still singing. One of my anthems.  And isn’t it so weird?  The album name is “LUNGS”.  Still singing in spite of the bad news yesterday — although, somewhere, Jessica STEENberg is breathing a sigh of relief.  And have to say, love the song, not so sure about the video.  Although, PRETTY sure she does the Snoopy dance in there.  Love that.

    Here it is.  I do have bone mets.  2 of them.  Somehow that doesn’t seem so scary – TWO!  They’re treatable.  I’m not having symptoms, although going back through the blog, I *WAS* having back pain in the exact area it was found before.

    The disease is progressing in my brain.  And while I will always fight (and thank GOD my doctors will too), it’s time for some acceptance – which is different than defeat.  I’m not winning. That said, my family is famous for always loving an underdog.  Cancer is SUCH a bully.  And here goes Alanis Morrisette again, because there’s some real irony to me as a former fitness instructor.  The metastasis is “scatter shot” in my cerebellum – the part of my brain that controls balance, coordination, and timing of large motor skills.  The good is that I won’t get dementia.  The bad is now not only do I share my dad’s hairline, but his dancing ability, too.  (And I love you more than words, Dad.)

    My oncologist rocks.  Seriously.  I’ll write about him more soon, but time for a name in case it will help others – Ian Schnadig at Compass Oncology in Tualatin.  The most important thing to me right now is that nobody gives up on me.  I’m still strong, still fighting, still relatively without symptoms.  Having read through my share of stories on message boards, here’s where a lot of doctors *would* give up.  He pledged to me he wouldn’t, that they would go to extraordinary measures.  Things change so fast all the time in this world, and a whole bunch of money just got poured into this cause.  I believe if I can HANG IN THERE the answer will come.  So, HAIR we go again.  Big round 3.  I’ve already had whole brain radiation, which is a one shot deal.  It worked on what was there at the time.  Monday I meet with my radiation oncologist, another one of my most favorite people.  Nico DeVette at Compass Oncology in Rose Quarter.  We’ll make a plan, but I know it’s under the category of “salvage”.  As soon as I’m done with some sort of radiation, I’ll immediately start some systemic chemo.   So, some dog days are still coming.  I’m not scared, I’m just grateful that I still get a chance to fight – a chance to keep finding the joy and humor in each day, a chance to wake up next to and play each day with my boys (sheesh they are hard sometimes though), and a chance to love on my dear family and friends… and a chance to finish Damages season 4 (tee hee).  I still feel like and know I AM A BLESSED GIRL.

    And SO grateful for the chance to say – HEY CANCER???  FUCK YOU!!!

    Jessica


  2. This fat lady is still singing…

    November 1, 2012 by Momma Bear

    I had a birthday!  Birthdays are a big deal when the stats say you only have a few left… not that I’m buying into THAT anytime soon.  I actually kind of had a birthday MONTH, which is really fun.  It’s so weird how I can be going along, just trying to keep one step ahead of everything (lions, tigers, and bears schoolbus, soccer practice, and dinner, oh my!) and then like a lightning strike, I’ll have these crazy epiphany moments that I can’t explain.  And it changes everything.  I’m learning.

    I swear there’s a jukebox in my head.  Now it’s playing Sarah McLachlan’s Sweet Surrender.  If I ever do get that Lifetime movie made, it’s going to have a hell of a soundtrack.

    I’m learning that as a warrior, sometimes you have to pick your battles.  Sometimes you have to know when to put down your shield.

    Let’s just say that, thank you Tim McGraw, I gave some forgiveness I’d been denying.  And it was like a 50 lb. weight instantly left my body.  Aaaaaand… I think that’s all I’m going to say about that.

    I also gave in to the cubs always wanting to sleep in my room – Cub 1 on the floor in a sleeping bag and Cub 2 in the bed with me.  It wasn’t my favorite thing because I don’t sleep that well and I swear that 2 kid spends all night trying to get back into the womb.  Then it occurred to me that it’s not too much longer they will want to be in my room, that at this point there IS something comforting to all of us.  Then I started thinking about the symbiotic relationship mothers have with their children, and the one I’ve always had with my boys, and maybe there is a REASON they want to be there.  When Cub 1 was a baby, I read somewhere about this… that if nursing mothers kissed their baby’s faces a lot, the mother would pick up what germs the baby had been exposed to and their body would produce the needed antibodies in their milk.  Amazing, huh?  And no, I never checked on snopes, I just kissed the heck out of those sweet cheeks.  But I do know after my millionth round of mastitis and that many antibiotics, I just let my Cub Baby 2 heal me by “nursing it out”.  And that when he was only on mother’s milk and developed a crazy rash that defied diagnosis, it turned out to be a reaction to MY developing thyroid issue.  Cub 2 and I have always had some strange physical inter-dependence, so if I wake up clinging to one side of my king bed because he has rolled the entire bed width to be smushed up against me, well… who knows.  Maybe he’s on to something.  Maybe it’s healing.  And Cub 1?  That kid always knew what I was thinking.  He used to freeeeak me out, because we’d be driving and I’d be thinking of something, and out of nowhere, he’d pipe up something related from the backseat.  He still does it…*always* seems to know what I’m thinking.  So he wants to be close to me at night?  I surrender.  The truth is that now I think it IS healing… if nothing else, to wake up in the night, and listen to their breathing, and know that the best thing I have ever done is RIGHT THERE next to me.

    The real surrender for me comes not in giving up (HEAR ME NOW, FUCKING CANCER – I WILL NEVER GIVE UP) but in acceptance.  People have been saying to me, “Oh, you’re so brave…”  I don’t know if that is true, I have my dark DARK moments.  But what’s my choice?  Like I’ve said before, I’ve considered the options and facing whatever lies in front of me head-on seems to be the only real one.    (Still pretty tempted by the ‘drinking myself to death’ one, but it wouldn’t leave much of a legacy…)

    My most recent scans came back not-so-okay.  The good news is that my lungs were totally the same – not better, not worse.  Stable.  The medium-bad news is that it looked like I had some bone mets.  I had a bone scan yesterday (with the sweetest tech ever and she actually made the process almost fun) to confirm.  I’m no radiologist, but I think I know since I watched the whole thing (and it would have been soooo cool if it was all theoretical and not really me) so I’m ready to hear it.  That doesn’t stress me out so much.  It means chemo and radiation and bone mets are treatable.  The super-bad news is it seems like there are a bunch of new lesions in my brain.  My amazing oncologists (they have a whole post of their own coming soon enough) just weren’t sure, though, despite the scan being read by a neuroradiologist.  So they were gathering more information and we’ll be able to talk about it tomorrow with hopefully a clearer idea of what’s going on.  It would just be baaaaad if it were true, though.  Mostly because there is just not a whole lot they can do.  I’ve already had whole-brain radiation, and you get one shot at that.  Chemo, in general, doesn’t cross the blood brain barrier.  And it means that the cancer is really progressing.

    I have this fantasy going that I’m going to meet with my doctor tomorrow and he’s going to say…

    “So I talked to the neuroradiologist finally, and he was like, “OOOOOOH, you are talking about Jessica STEIN-berg’s scans.  I was talking all this time about Jessica STEEN-berg’s scan!”  But (my oncologist would go on to say) don’t worry or feel bad, Jessica STEENberg is a 96-year-old great-grandmother of 4, who went tandem sky-diving on her last birthday.  She’s had a very rich and full life, still gardens and does tae kwon do, but now that her great-grandchildren are starting college, she’s realizing perhaps it’s time to slow down.”

    I feel bad throwing Jessica Steenberg under the bus, but MAN, would that be nice.  When I told Cub 1 my scans weren’t looking so good, and I *wasn’t* going to be getting the chemo-break I thought, he started crying.  “Why can’t we ever get a break from this?” he kept asking me.  What do I tell him?  This is certainly not the life I imagined my kids would be having.  There’s so much heartbreak with cancer.   It’s hard to walk the talk, but I have to show them… it’s not what happens, it’s what you DO with it.  So I’m standing tall(ish – no smartass remarks)… determined to help them (and me) find the joy in each day.  Even though I know I have some sucky ones coming.

    My other theory is that my 2 oncologists have an under-the-table bet going to see just how fat they can make me.  The news I’m really dreading is the steroid dose they’ll be talking about.

    And, of course, sleep isn’t going to come easy tonight.  And it goes without saying that the hard part is the cubs.  But it is what it is, and I’ll face it and deal with it.  I’ve done my share of crying in the shower these past few days, and I’ve gone down all those worst-case-scenario roads in my head.  I HAVE to do that to be ready.  But no matter what I learn tomorrow, this fat lady is still singing.  You can count on that.

    And hey cancer?  FUCK YOU.

    Jessica