Last Thursday brought my last chemo treatment.

In the grand scheme of things, finishing chemo is not a big deal.  Thousands of people go through chemo every year.  I am not the first cancer patient, nor will I be the last. But to me, Thursday was one of the most important days of my life.

Makai Pier

I feel so grateful today.

I am grateful that I had symptoms that were noticeable before it was too late.  I am grateful to the strangers who gave me hugs and asked how I’m feeling.  I am grateful to my oncologist, who didn’t laugh at me when I couldn’t find the right words or ways to phrase my questions. I am grateful to the great nurses I’ve gotten to know in the Kaiser oncology department.

In a futile attempt to show my appreciation, I brought them cookies.  I know it wasn’t enough.

I whine at Ryan every day that I want to be up to full power and doing all the things I used to do, but I know that I am lucky.  This week, I met an 84 year old woman who was diagnosed last year, underwent a mastectomy, and was diagnosed again in February.  She lost her husband two years ago.

I have a great husband who has been with me through this.

While I still have six weeks of radiation ahead, I’m already thinking about the years of hormone therapy beyond.

My oncologist assured me during my last visit that Tamoxifen will be a breeze, but I’m still worried.  Apparently Tamoxifen and Prozac do not play well together, so he advised me to switch to Effexor. I am afraid of the side effects of Tamoxifen, but I’m more afraid that Effexor won’t work as well as Prozac did.  I am scared of entering another downward spiral of anxiety.  Those few weeks in July were so scary and dark.  I never want to feel that again.

I see the doctor again tomorrow.  It’s been a busy week.  Yesterday, I spent the morning with Alex’s class, learning about how his teachers are teaching math.  I had yet to meet most of Alex’s class, and they all wanted to know why I have no hair, and by the way, what’s the deal with the thing on my chest?  Apparently, one girl in Alex’s class has been asking about my hair since the summer.

Their questions made me think.  I was matter-of-fact and blunt with my kids about my appearance and all of the changes, but what about everybody else?  How do other patients handle the questions from their kids or their nieces and nephews?

6 thoughts on “pau

  1. You are my first dear friend that has blogged about chemo at all, and for that and your family’s good works I can’t thank you enough. I only aim to bring you more light (and I think I have) “I guess I’m a member of the blog club”

  2. No matter what the circumstances, I always find it best to answer kids’ questions honestly according to their ability to understand, with a minimal amount of detail unless it’s asked for. Kinda like the story of a kid who asked his mom where he came from. Embarrassed. she went into a long explanation about the “birds and the bees”… and when she was pau he said, “No mom! I meant what city did I come from?” Heh heh.

    All you can do is one day at a time… I can understand why you’re concerned about the Prozac etc…and I obviously don’t have the answer to that. But what I DO know is that you are one heck of a courageous wahine, and you will triumph over whatever happens.


  3. My father has been diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer and the cancer has spread. I was looking on the web for someway and someplace to share my experiences – as an daughter, a mother. I observe and am part of his journey along this very difficult road. Thank you for posting your journey. It is inspiring to see that you are sharing your story and your experiences. My father is still trying to protect us from experiencing what he is going through but I would like to know what his inner most thoughts are….All the best with yours XXX

  4. what great news! i am on effexor. have been for a few years. it’s great but i understand the transition fears. most people i know on effexor feel it’s the best anti-depressant they’ve had. a lot of women in my ovarian cancer support group take it not just for depression but also for hot flashes. hope it helps.

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