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by Marilyn B.
Read Marilyn's story and track her journey…
I thought I might "close the loop" and send one last update. It seems like a good time to transition.
I am doing very well physically, although I have found that emotionally it was actually easier to be in treatment than it is to be "done." When I was in treatment I hadonepriority—one thing to focus on—and that was getting through my next step, whether that was surgery, each chemo treatment, each week of radiation, etc.
Now that I'm done, I have a lot of anxiety and often feel a bit lost at sea. There are so many things running through my head: What do I want to do with the rest of my life? Is something more profound supposed to happen? Was there some cosmic reason this happened at this particular point in my life?
Cognitively, I don't believe this happened for a reason, but it does give me pause to reconsider my priorities. I also have the added wrinkle that I really can't go back to what I was doing before this happened. I was ready to embark on an election, and that ship has long-since sailed. So indeed, I am adrift.
Lord knows I've had this feeling before—more than once in my life—and I have total faith that whatever it is I decide to do in the next chapter, it will be as deeply fulfilling as all the chapters before.
As to the physical, I'm gradually feeling better every day. I am gaining strength and stamina. Besides the fatigue, the only major side effect is the neuropathy. Both will take a year or so to subside.
My radiated skin looks great, and my scars are healing nicely. I'm off the blood thinners, and my Vitamin D levels have bounced back. My hair is coming in very slowly, but I have to say that I actually miss my bald head. While I envisioned a cute little pixie cut, the interim phase most resembles scrawny little chicken fuzz, with a little Uncle Fester from the Addams Family thrown in for good measure. So while I was boldly going to give up the wig on October 1, I find I'm reaching for it even more. Besides, my head is freezing!
I've had my follow-up visits with my radiation oncologist and medical oncologist. Both have signed off on my treatment and I now move on to the next phase. I started hormone therapy today! I took the first of 1,825 pills. I will take anastrozole (generic Arimidex) for five years. Because my tumor was hormone receptive, the drug will prevent estrogen and progesterone from "binding to cancer cells," eliminating the food source for any remaining or future cancer cells, which in turn significantly increases my long-term rate of non-recurrence and ultimate survival. So I'm looking at the long haul. But what's five years of hormone therapy compared to another 45 years of life?
I also start a rotation of follow-ups. I see one of the doctors on my team every three months in rotation, starting with my surgeon in January, radiation oncologist in April, medical oncologist in July then back to my surgeon next October. So I am well cared for as I move forward.
I cannot express the depth of my gratitude for "my team"—my family, my friends, my colleagues, my fellow "moms," my book club, my neighbors, my women's group. For everyone out there who surrounded me with love and healing thoughts and flowers on my doorstep. For those who made me laugh and held me when I cried and most recently to my Florida gals who reminded me that I am so much more than this soul-sucking disease.
Along the way I found this saying: "Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it is about learning how to dance in the rain." Although I've known that all my life, there were some dark days. Thank you for reminding me how to dance.
Peace Out, Marilyn