Penultimate Cycle

by | May 24, 2023 | Her Story

I had intended for this post to be completely different from what it’s turned out to be.

I have been typing up my posts ahead of time so that I can amend them as I find the need for changes to the post when I draw closer to the day I post the article. I’m very grateful I did that for this one because as I head into the last two months of treatment, something has happened to me. While this will be posted on Wednesday the 24th, I’m editing it on Monday the 22nd.

I think my mind is starting to betray me and I’m fairly certain I’m under spiritual attack, as the end of treatment draws near.  For example, yesterday was Sunday.  The entire day, I thought it was Monday.  I had gotten up at 5 so I could spend  some time with John before he left for his week long job in Alaska. Naturally, by 4 pm, I was exhausted so I took a nap.  During this nap, I had an absolutely horrible nightmare.  In my dream, I was finished with my brain cancer treatment and suddenly diagnosed with 3 different melanomas. One in my eye, one on my skin and one in my mouth.  All three were considered terminal.  In my dream, I was absolutely devastated when I was told the news.  I knew I was going to die, and could not wrap my mind around why this was happening to me!  Even typing this out brings tears to my eyes.  My wise friend Carla likened this to the dream many of us had as college students during finals week:  We’re heading to finals and suddenly realize there’s a final for a class that we not only did NOT attend, but never even bought the book.  I had completely forgotten about this dream during finals until she mentioned it!  But it did in fact, occur for years even after I was out of college.  That’s how this dream felt.  I was blindsided by something I wasn’t prepared for.

The worst part about this dream for me, wasn’t that I was told the melanoma was incurable, it was how I felt when told.  Suddenly, all of that trust and faith I’ve been rambling on and on  about for over a year on this CaringBridge was just gone.  In my dream, I was so devastated that all the progress that I thought I had made in my faith life, wasn’t progress at all. It was an illusion.  When I woke up, and realized it was just a dream, I was relieved but traumatized.  I still don’t feel that great today.

As is evident in my CaringBridge posts, I’m a big believer in God and the Holy Trinity  as well as all the saints and angels.  But if one believes in God, one must accept the existence of satan as well. Make no mistake; Satan has one goal and one goal only; to take as many souls away from God as possible.  He does this in a variety of ways, one of which is sowing seeds of doubt.  As I was getting ready this morning I realized it should be of no surprise at all, that he’s choosing the last two months of treatment to come at me and come at me hard.  He’s running out of time to shake my faith in God.  My tendinosis in my glutes is flaring worse than ever and now I’m having traumatizing dreams.  So I’m dealing with the physical, mental, and spiritual battles all at once.  I also realize that nothing happens to me that God hasn’t allowed and while I’m not Jesus I like to think it’s similar to the temptation Jesus went through when he was alone in the desert for 40 days and tempted by Satan to give up.

In 1Peter:5:8-9 the Bible says be sober, be alert and cautious at all times.  That enemy of yours, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of suffering.

I don’t take joy at all in knowing others are suffering but there is comfort to be had in knowing I’m not alone.

In my last post, I touched on the apprehension I’m starting to feel as I head into my last chemo cycle in June.

When John was diagnosed with cancer, we were wisely advised to break the treatment down into chunks; 1. Eight cycles of chemo. 2. Five weeks of radiation. 3. Eight weeks between the last radiation and surgery 4. Surgery with a temporary ileostomy 5. Three months after surgery,  ileostomy takedown.

Unfortunately, aside from dietary restrictions following the surgeries, there is no “Welcome back to the Kingdom of The Living and Congratulations on Not Dying” handbook! (NOTE TO SELF:  write a handbook on how to survive after you survive cancer treatment). In all seriousness, it’s a very uncomfortable feeling to finish your treatment and be turned loose back into the world.  Granted, there are regular follow-up visits and scans to be had. But there’s really no guidance on how you’re going to feel when you aren’t in survival mode any longer.  John and I brought this issue up several times during follow-up appointments.  It’s not a matter of being ungrateful for being treated and in John’s case, cured.  It’s not that the physicians aren’t there for you to answer any questions or see you, it’s just this odd feeling of being …..lost, for lack of a better word.  For me, by the time my treatment is complete, it will have been 491 days, from the seizure to the last chemo pill.  That’s one year, 4 months, and 6 days.  Some people, spend YEARS undergoing one treatment after another.  Your life revolves around doctors’ appointments, labs, scans, and timing when you eat so you can take your medications.  Bumps in the road and unexpected and disappointing complications often arise. It’s all-consuming.  So once one is off that treatment treadmill, it’s difficult to navigate what to do with oneself.  Not to mention, I don’t have the luxury of claiming I’m cured.  So that’s a bit of a bummer.

Regardless, I’m still pretty excited to be done with the monthly grind of labs, appointments, and chemo.  I’ve been advised to hold off on my turmeric supplements until 3 weeks after my last chemo. I have relied on wholistic, natural supplements with high levels of turmeric for years. Unfortunately, none of that was allowed for the past year and 3 months. The turmeric makes the chemo less effective.  I’m pretty sure that’s contributed to my hip pain.  So the prospects of not only being off chemo but also restarting supplements I know help, is what’s carrying me through to the end.

I plan to spend my entire final CaringBridge post in June, thanking everyone who’s gotten me through this past year. Medical staff, family, friends, etc. Because of that, I’m ready to announce that I have no plans to stop writing.

While I won’t be posting on caring bridge, I will be blogging.

My good friend and graphic designer/website developer extraordinaire, Carla at Accent Graphix, has helped me build a blog that I will officially launch in late June, or early July.

All of my caring bridge posts will be moved over. While I’ll still be speaking about health occasionally, It will lean more towards day-to-day, observational humoresque situations with a splash of Jesus.  Because He’s my favorite person and without Him, I wouldn’t be doing any of this.  The blog will also allow for more open communication with each other.  Something I didn’t do much of (if any) on CB but long to do.

Finally, you still have time to sign up for the June 4th Strain the Brain 5k. All proceeds go to brain cancer research at Froedtert Hospital. As previously noted, John and I will be there doing the 1-mile survivor walk.  I’ll also have my transport chair in case it becomes too much for me.  So if you choose to come to this, please look for me! I’ll be one of the survivors in a yellow shirt. Dr. Connelly tells me, it’s really something to see everyone together and the sea of yellow shirts! (see link below)

In the meantime, if you’re so inclined please pray that I continue to march forward with courage, clarity, and strength of mind, body, and spirit.   I’m determined to get to the finish line and would like to do so with an intact and joyful spirit.  I begin my 11th of 12 cycles of chemo tonight.

About Me

In February 2022, I was diagnosed with brain cancer and it changed my whole life perspective. This blog is dedicated to my Journey through cancer diagnosis, recovery, and finding the humor in life.