Well, it’s time to dust off this old blog because I have cancer and Shit Is Going Down, and I need somewhere to write about it. I want somewhere to share about what this process is like. I plan to be entirely honest here, and open. This might be disturbing to some of you, so if you’re uncomfortable with that, I totally get it and encourage you to avoid reading.
I’m 47 years old, and on January 29 of this year I was diagnosed with endometrial cancer. My doctor reassured me that it was not an aggressive variety and that things would be fine. He referred me to the local university hospital, which is world class in treating cancer. I expected that I’d have a hysterectomy and maybe some radiation therapy, and go on with my life. All of that was upended when I had my first appointment with my new oncologist.
Their pathologists (world class, remember) determined that not only was my cancer what they call “high grade”–i.e. aggressive–but it had also already spread to my cervix. Okay, I think. Things are a little worse than I expected, but it’ll be okay. The doctor orders a set of CT scans of my pelvic area and my chest… because the first places endometrial cancer likes to spread are the lungs and the liver. That was when I started to be really afraid. Both of my parents died of cancer. Neither really have a genetic component (my dad had multiple myeloma and my mom, a longtime smoker, had lung cancer), but still. The idea that I might have cancer in my lungs freaked me the fuck out.
The CT scan was not as awkward as I was afraid of. But then I got the results online. It looked really bad to me: there’s an “indeterminate” lesion on one of my kidneys… and a small nodule in one of my lungs. I’ve learned there are many noncancerous reasons why both of those might be true, but…There are also some enlarged lymph nodes in my pelvic area, which can be another bad sign re: metastasis. I heard from my doctor yesterday. He called the results “concerning” and wants me to do a biopsy of one of those lymph nodes. It’s scheduled for Monday.
All this time, I’ve stayed positive. “Okay, I have cancer. But it’s nonaggressive and super treatable, so everything will be fine!” Then it was “Okay. It’s more aggressive than they thought, but it’ll be okay.” Each time I was proven wrong has been an absolutely gutting experience. So I’m not doing that anymore. I’m letting myself go to the dark and scary places. I’m expecting to hear the very worst news after the biopsy. I’m preparing for that mentally. You see, getting cancer has always been one of my greatest fears. Being diagnosed with terminal cancer has always been the worst possible nightmare I could imagine. And I’m looking down the barrel at that possibility. Not a certainty–even if there is spread, there’ll be chemotherapy and probably surgery and radiation and all of that, and I am 100% on board with doing every single thing possible to fight for every bit of space and time.
But. I know the statistics. The odds are looking a lot worse for me than I initially thought. And I’m thinking about what that means. What do I want to do with the rest of my time, if I know it’s limited? How do I leave some sort of meaning behind? This blog is, maybe, part of that. I don’t know if I’ll ever finish another book, and that hurts me deeply. I may try. God knows I’ve had one in the works for years.
I took care of my mom during her last few years, and I’m thinking about her a lot, and understanding so much more about how she reacted, what she did. She didn’t shy away from the likelihood of death, but said fuck you and started doing things like having ice cream for dinner whenever she wanted. I hope, that if it turns out I’m in a similar situation, I can respond with a similar strength and grace. I hope that I’m not in a similar situation, but I’m trying to brace myself and get ready, just in case.
(If you want to help, I have a GoFundMe set up to help with living expenses as I go through treatment.)