Dispatch from the Lesser Half Vol. VIII

Happy New Year. And thank you for your continued support of Meaghan during this often times crap filled journey. Almost 10,000 visits to this site, plus countless other cards, gifts, emails, texts, personal visits- amazing.

As you gathered from Meg’s latest post, this cancer business allows for a lot of introspection – and fair amount of perspective too. She has certainly done an excellent job of capturing the ups and downs but it has nagged her for some time that she wasn’t being completely honest in her posts and that she was sugar coating some of the down times. I think that it is just human nature for someone with her level of intelligence and maturity. You want to make sure everyone knows it’s going to be alright, even if there are moments you don’t necessarily believe it. There have certainly been a few of those times since August in our house. Very naturally Meaghan has said more than a few times that she wished this wasn’t her life and it just isn’t fair. Those moments tend to be fleeting and she always is fighting, but she’s human and honest and brave and smart and beautiful – and she continues on with the knowledge that eventually this will be in the rear view mirror.

At the same time, she (and I) will always remember what these last few months have been like. It will also be awhile before this slows down a bit. That’s what Meaghan was getting at in her last post. While it will be gratifying when the last chemo treatment takes place on the 17th, that’s only a portion of the battle that is behind her. After recovering for a few days from the last chemo treatment, she will have an another echo-cardiogram to check her heart’s reaction to the toxic chemo drugs. Then another MRI, a visit with her breast surgeon, plastic surgeon, radiation oncologist, and a decision about the exact type of surgery she will have. And this is the “break” period before her surgery. Such fun. So Meg’s right, life won’t be back to normal for while. After surgery in February, she will have a few weeks of recovery, including pain, drains, and a bunch of other unseemly annoyances to deal with. Then it’s back to the Herceptin infusions, which will involve trips to the infusion center every 3 weeks until about the end of 2013. So while we enjoy seeing the nurses we have gotten to know so well over these last few months, and the Herceptin infusions are supposed to have minimal side effects, it will still be a chore to have that on the schedule every there weeks. Meg’s port will also stay in until the infusions are over, a constant reminder of the mess that she has been through and still lies ahead. I know she will be looking forward to the day that bump comes out of her body. So we will definitely have recurring trips to the infusion center for the next year, and then Meg will have 5 years (yes 1,2,3,4,5 years) of hormone therapy, which involves taking a pill until the doctors deem she can come off of it, but likely about 5 years. In addition, because Meg is premenopausal she has an additional shot monthly for the next two years in order to shut down her ovaries and prevent them from producing estrogen (aka tumor feeder). The shot comes with supposedly minimal side effects (apparently shutting down your ovaries is minimal in thee world of breast cancer), but as we have certainly come to realize, you just never know how the body will react.

Why are we telling you all this? Certainly not to bring everyone down or to start a pity party. It truly is just informational. This whole battle isn’t just going to be a little bit more time. Things aren’t over at all after the last chemo treatment on the 17th. We’re hopeful life can get a little more normal and Meg can start feeling better soon, but things won’t be the same for quite some time, and arguably have changed for us permanently.

All that said, Meaghan’s response to the treatment has been “phenomenal” (doctor’s words). Her courage and wisdom have been inspirational (my words, and I am not a doctor as far as I know). While Meaghan has been battling her own fight, I came home the other day to find her talking to a woman new to her support group, helping her navigate some the difficult decisions we navigated in August. If that doesn’t sum Meg up, I don’t know what does. While I was worried about the energy she was expending to help others, I couldn’t help but smile and be proud of her.

So the battle continues and we look forward to all of your help during the whole journey. So you are stuck with us for 5 years. In my next post I may do a retrospective on a typical week for us – all of the appointments, treatments, etc. I was also thinking the other day about the sheer number of times Meaghan has given blood samples since August (my rough estimate – 42). So perhaps my next post may actually have a coherent theme, rather than another rambling mess that would embarrass my educators.

As you know, I like to make (sometimes mediocre) jokes and I’m sorry this post has been devoid of the comedy gold you have become accustomed to from this humble amateur blogger. But I will leave you with a bit of levity from the infusion center today. As we were walking out, an elderly man and his daughter entered the infusion room. He had some pretty sizable hearing aids and everyone was shouting at him, not unlike how it is for Meaghan’s grandfather Pop (aka Sir Kay, aka the guy who off the cuff mentioned last week that Meaghan had married very well. Let’s just overlook the fact that Pop is basically blind too.). I digress – back to the elderly fellow from today. When they got him to his chair, the nurse asked him (quite loudly) if he would like any water or tea. The man didn’t respond at first, and then started looking toward his daughter as if hadn’t heard. But before she could repeat what the nurse had asked, the man got a twinkle in his eye and said (loudly), “No, I’d prefer whiskey”. The nurse wasn’t quite sure how to react, but before she could he said, “Not really, I’ve never been drunk in my life”. So I look forward to the day when I am old and say stuff like that. But let’s face it, I’ll probably want the whiskey.

Until next time, thanks again. And lest we all forget, Go IRISH.

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