Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Revolving Cancer Door

The entrance to the hospital has an automatic revolving door. It has two sides and allows people in and out through two rather large openings. If someone would happen to not move fast enough, or touch the door while it is moving the door stops. People come in, people come out. Much like life; our lives move- allowing us to come in to new ventures and out with old ones. When we stumble, life can pause for a moment, allow us to pick up the pieces and then back in to the revolution we go. No matter if we are entering a new phase in our life, or leaving behind another, we must use the door. The revolving door for a terminal cancer patient, however, is unchanged. I can’t pause, I can’t get out, and I just keep circling; watching through the glass partition at everyone's lives on the other side that goes in and out.

I had a nice summer break, really no illnesses, crossed some things from my Mommy Bucket List, and even took a break from blogging and FB to enjoy my family more. Around the time that I was going between doctor’s opinions on whether or not to have a mastectomy, pain started in my hip and back again. What most people cannot comprehend is that for every ache, pain or slight change to my overall health, a thousand of my caretakers freak out, including myself. Is my pain cancer? Has the cancer spread? Will I go back on chemo? What if that chemo doesn’t work? Is this the end? Should I finish the plans for my funeral now? And with one achy hip you have yourself buried 6 feet under. It is impossible to not think worst case scenario when you already have cancer. You are on borrowed time. The average life span of a person with Stage IV breast cancer is 18-36 months. You always assume the worst. I am going on 20 months since I was diagnosed. I immediately thought my cancer had spread further in my hip and I knew what steps were next. First, you report it. Then they set you up with a bunch of scans. You get the scans. You go in to an emotional turmoil for the days following your scans. You think 24/7 about what those scans show. You check you’re online medical records for updates just about every minute. This is not like a cold that will go away. This isn’t a cold, this is cancer. Cancer that has already spread, and will spread further until it kills you- it’s only a matter of when. So every time you think its spread, you just can’t help but wonder- is this it?

I started the whole process, at one of my infusions, I reported my pain. Then I was ordered for 4 MRI’s of the area, after 2 immediate XRays. Then I waited. And went crazy. And waited. And planned my funeral. And waited some more. Finally the report came back and I met with my oncologist. Thankfully, the pain was not a spread of cancer, but cancer related nonetheless. The tumors in my pelvis are causing some serious tendinitis, straining my muscles. I have a compression fracture in my spine from the lesions in my vertebrae. It makes it quite hard to get around so I am going to be in to physical therapy 2-3 times a week for a couple months. We also found that my bone marrow seems pretty damaged (from chemo), and is probably what has been causing my abnormally low platelet levels. If my levels keep dropping then I will follow up with a Hematology Oncologist. So it wasn’t new metastases- will I do a happy dance? Absolutely not. Because I know, it’s cancer related. The cancer will spread further at some point, maybe it didn't today but one day, it will. I can’t move forward in life and I can’t just stop going for infusions. I am stuck. Everyone else around me moves on. Friends have babies, start new jobs, and go back to school, open a business- and I can’t do any of those. Cancer restricts me from that.

Then I noticed it. The revolving cancer door: Infusions. Scans. Repeat. Pain. Scan. Repeat. Infusions. Scans. Repeat. Pain. Scan. Repeat. Going round and round with no way to stop, no way to start something new, no way to leave. And I keep in this cycle until it stops. But when it stops for me, it won’t be so I can get out and move on, it will be because I can’t keep going anymore. It can be lonely and isolating. I watch the world pass by and pray that I, too, again someday can be worried by the mundane things of life without a care in the world. People forget. They forget I am in here all alone. They forget that I keep circling, so they hop out and move one. Such is life . . . everybody’s life. Except mine.

Now don’t get me wrong, in the stupid revolving door, many things won’t happen. My love won’t be incapacitated. My faith won’t be shattered. My hope won’t be forsaken. My strength will not be eradicated. And my soul will always be smiling.

I will live life for now, around my cancer. I will do me- I will love on my babies, my husband and my family. I will feverishly work to fund breast cancer research aimed to find a cure. I will go on in my revolving cancer door until I no longer can. And I will do so with the same courage I walked in here with.


  1. Nailed it. As I read your words I just kept nodding my head in familiarity. Its comforting to know someone else knows how it feels when so many don't. ~xox

  2. I understand too well. This is what our busy lives have become. I keep feeling that if I just did something, I could walk away from Stage IV. I dream about it at night but I wake in the morning and its still there.

  3. Yes yes yes!You are right on girl. I hate referring to this experience as a FIGhT because it is my life. The more I resist the more I have suffered. So for now I dance with cancer....sometimes fast, sometimes slow, and sometimes I gotta change partners. But for me this is the challenge how to make peace and embrace my life as it is and let go of what I thought it would be. Thank you for writing this.

  4. Hi Kate,
    It's so important for people to hear your voice. I am listening and many others are too. Thank you. Big hugs.

  5. Funny, I had the same abbreviated summer of hip pain, scanning and ultimately good news. I managed to get through it without planning my funeral, and it's worth blogging about why I wasn't too scared this time. All the best! ~ Kate, of Kate Has Cancer

  6. You got it:) We live life around our cancer though I hate it that you are part of this club. A wonderful post.

  7. This is such a well written post. I wish you the best! *virtual hugs*

  8. Heartbreakingly poignant, Kate. I hear you. I wish I could give you a hug, but a virtual one will have to do.