Monday, June 8, 2009

The End

This has been an extremely emotional last few days for me. I'm still trying to recover from my last infection which left me completely wiped out - add that to the menopause that chemo created - plus the huge decision I made this past Friday...it's a wonder I've still got any sanity left at all. Some may say I don't. At this point I won't argue.

This blog is going to be the hardest blog I've ever written. I'll start where I left off from my last post...

Thursday, June 4, 2009

I went to bed with unbelievable dread inside me. I knew when I woke up it would mean it was time to get more chemo pumped into my body. All night I tried to sleep, but couldn't. I threw a pity party and cried a little, but mostly I did absolutely nothing all night long except think about what the next week or so was going to be like. I had to remind myself that millions of people have gone through these treatments and were able to handle them and dang it, I could handle it, too! My thoughts were on my children and how much they needed me and how desperately I needed to be there for them. Just two more treatments. For Allison and Jacob. Destroy the cancer and stay alive!

Friday, June 5, 2009

The sun rose without me getting one moment of sleep. My dad had gone back to Florida and it was my mom's turn to drag the emotional wreck of a daughter to chemo. We get to the hospital early and I try to remain calm, but I feel myself falling apart. I found myself praying a lot that morning, but my mind was such a mess I wasn't sure what I was praying for. I was just so sleepy and sick and sore and wishing I was anywhere except at that hospital. How was it possible three weeks had passed since my last treatment. Another hospital stay in between treatments. The stress this was putting on Tom and the kiddos. I hated, desperately hated, my babies having to watch me go through this.

Time came finally and I got called back to the infusion room. My port was accessed, blood was taken, and I peed in the little cup. All that was left for me to do was talk to Dr Young then I would be hooked up to the IV so the poison could start flowing into my body. I have to leave the infusion room to get my quick exam done by Dr. Young. I don't have to wait long - the good doctor studies my chart and we chat for a moment about my latest hospital stay. It's at this moment that Dr. Young reminds me that I've already had four treatments - which was her original recommendation. She tells me that in those four treatments I've managed to get two pretty severe infections plus hospitalized for countless number of days. She doesn't think my body can handle much more. As of right now, none of the infections have affected any of my major organs. Let's quit the chemo now, she says.

Quit? I didn't even think about it. Yes, I told her. I was crying. I couldn't do another treatment. I was fighting the fight, and I was losing. There was no more fight left in me that day. Quit. Yes. I will quit. When I agreed to quit the treatment, I didn't think of anyone but myself - I just knew that right then and there I couldn't continue on. I also knew I didn't want to celebrate the news. Usually when you finish your chemo treatments there is a big production of ringing the bell in the infusion center. I felt defeated. I lost the fight. I didn't want to ring the bell - I didn't feel I deserved it.

The nurses cheered my news when they heard I was done. They probably thought I was crying happy tears, but I wasn't. I had to sit back down in the infusion room while they deaccessed my port. I wanted to scream that I changed my mind - that I wanted my poison. But I couldn't. What was I doing? My thoughts were so muddled at that point, I was almost hysterical screaming on the inside while trying to remain calm on the outside. What I wanted more than anything was to run back into Dr. Young's office and tell her I changed my mind. But I couldn't. I couldn't. I couldn't. I was ashamed that I couldn't.

Don't get me wrong...I knew what Dr. Young was saying was true. Chemo was all but destroying my body. It was getting harder and harder just to walk, because of the muscle pain it was causing me. There were many days I didn't leave my bed except to go to the bathroom. I'd read a lot about the drugs I was receiving and talked to a few people who had received the exact drugs - it seemed to me that these drugs were ravaging my body more severely than it did to others. I still sit in amazement thinking of the people who never missed a day of work while receiving the very treatment that caused me to spend half my time admitted to the hospital. But still...I had done four treatments. Two more? I couldn't do two more? For my family? I had this great life planned out ahead of me for when I finished my treatments. Six treatments of three chemotherapy drugs! That was the plan! If my cancer came back - I would know I did everything in my power the first time around. But I quit.

I can still call the doctor and tell her I changed my mind and get my next dose this week. I can't bring myself to do it though. Very few people have been told that I quit, because I can't talk about it. Most people are ready to celebrate my news. I'm just not there yet. It's almost impossible to explain exactly what I feel. But I know I don't want to hear congratulations, because right now I am sure I don't deserve that. Maybe all I need is time for this to sink in that it's finally over and I can move on to a subject that isn't cancer. There's a crazy thought. One thing is certain - this is the end of my chemo. I won't be changing my mind.

30 comments:

  1. Sheri, We love you. Jill and Dan

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  2. Sheri, as someone who's body has been through countless medical serious medical procedures, the only thing I can tell you is this: count this as healing reprieve. A chance right now for your body/mind to heal for a bit before you go forward and make anymore decisions.
    What you are feeling is entirely normal, everything Ive read that you've written tells me what an incredible fighter you are. God Bless you, you are in my prayers.
    Maire

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  3. Sheri, we had the same chemo and I remember the dread of my 5th session. The feelings, the meltdown, the pain - all were the same. The difference between you and me is that I didn't have the horrible infections and nausea that you did. Your body is trying to tell you enough is enough. Listen to it and set your mind at ease. You've pounded the cancer with drugs.

    I don't think I could have handled being in the hospital as much as you. It would have sent everyone right over the deep end. You've been beyond strong through all of this.

    It's quite normal (whatever normal is now) to wonder if you've done what you can after you finish a course of treatment, even when you complete the recommended series. My docs originally recommended 4 sessions of TAC and then changed to 6. I would have only done 4 if I had the choice, especially knowing what I know now about the toll it takes on the body.

    The hardest part of this whole thing is the incredible pressure to make these decisions under duress and with the well-being of so many people on your mind. But sometimes, you just HAVE to come first. And you have. Let it set you free.

    As Maire said, it's a repreieve. Take a deep breath and move on. Start recovering from this hell and you'll feel better every day.

    Gentle hugs and prayers,
    Sharon

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  4. Do you hear yourself?! Sheri.. STOP punishing yourself emotionaly.. YOU DO deserve to celebrate. That you made it through even ONE treatment. I sat by my Aunt's side. Held her hand, held back her hair while she had it. Watched her fall apart. That you could go through even ONE DAY of that.. Sheri you ARE a fighter!!! You HAVE courage.. You MUST give yourself the credit DUE! Your doctor feels that this is the best course for you. That doesn't mean you've stopped fighting babe.. it just means your getting ready for the next battle. In the short time I've been reading your blog I've seen a woman with strength, honesty, heart and a great sense of humor. Draw on those things, and when you feel you can't.. lean on me.. lean on us.. all of those out there who have given a little piece of ourselves to help you in the fight. HUGS

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  5. Sheri
    You did all that you can do against this awful disease. Please don't beat yourself up with the what-ifs. Your body has told you that you've had enough chemo. You have gone through so much. Let the healing begin!

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  6. Sending prayers and strength for you and your family. Only YOU know what's right for you, and it looks like you've got lots of support. Stop beating yourself up.

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  7. Sheri, you're writing like you've failed by stopping now. From what I've read of you in your blog, you spound like an incredibly strong and determined lady, determined to do all she can for her family. Not even God judges you as a failure in this (Romans 8:33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen?) My prayer for you is that you can rest and heal and have a peace that you've given it your best shot, and be able to rest in our amazing God, leaving your healing in his beautifully compassionate and capable hands. You're in my prayers.

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  8. Praying for you Sheri.... Hang in there...

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  9. Sheri,
    Don't ever feel ashamed of yourself..what you have endured in the past months is more than any one person can handle. You have fought one hell of a battle...and in my eyes are a hero.. your strength through all of this has been amazing..you truly are a remarkable woman.. everyone reacts differently to certain treatments.. your body is telling you it's time to rest.. My heart goes out to you Sheri, and your family as well.. I am not a religious person but I say this to you..May God be with you.. I wish you peace within yourself.. I hope you find all the answers you are searching for..
    Kelly~

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  10. The original recommendation was 4 treatments and you did it!! That is huge, and by all statistics should be enough to prevent recurrence. You have made the right decision - you completed the original recommendation and now you need to regain your strength to focus on your family again.

    I wish you all the best.

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  11. Oh man. What a hard and impossible decision you had to make. You have been, and continue to be, extremely tough- both mentally and physically. I'll pray for you to feel that way!

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  12. Sheri, only you know if you made the right decision and it sounds like you did. We can only put our bodies through so much. Please don't feel like you have failed. Take some time now for yourself and your family, you deserve it!
    Get well now Sheri and get your strength back.
    Keep the blog going so we all know how you are doing.
    Hugs
    Jill.

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  13. My heart aches for what you had to go through, Sheri. You are one very strong person. I have tremendous admiration for you. I pray your body can start to heal itself now and you can get on with a normal life again. Hugs to you.

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  14. Sheri, you didn't simply quit.
    It's not like you went in and asked to d.c. the treatment.
    Quitting was suggested. Recommended even. By the expert. She saw the signs. It WAS harder on you than it's been on others. For reals.
    Please my friend, don't beat yourself up over this.
    Rest and get your strength back.

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  15. Sheri,
    You are my Heroin and Tom is definately a Hero!
    I am sending all my love to you, Tom and the kids
    Julie

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  16. Sheri,

    You are an inspiration to many. Please know that you aren't quitting, not even a chance...give yourself a break...take a deep breath.

    We love you!

    Stacy

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  17. Sheri,
    I am very, very proud of you! You have been through a whole lot. You indeed made the right decision. Your body is telling you it is time to heal and get stronger. I just want you to know that I am always with you in thoughts and prayers.
    Sonia

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  18. Big hugs girl. It's alot. I know that from experience. Your body is telling you what is right. Go with that.

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  19. Sheri,
    REST.

    And REST in HIM, your God and Father.

    Much love and strength,
    Jeanne

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  20. Left you a present over on my blog. Hope you're feeling better in both your mind and body!

    XO - Sharon

    http://bigblueheron.blogspot.com/2009/06/for-sheri.html

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  21. Sheri,

    My heart goes out to you. I had a terrible time with the chemo as well and although I did finish my chemo it was at a reduced rate as the side effects where damaging my nerve system so bad. I know that this was my decision and the best I could do but I like you worry what that means.

    I don't want you to ever feel along when you are having treatments or late at night when we all thin kover our lives. Remember that we are there with you - praying for you and sharing your pain. You have an army of pink warriors all around you and we are all encouraging you to keep up the good fight in what ever way you can!

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  22. Sheri, I know that it hurts physically and emotionally... but you are making a difference in the fight. We aren't all built the same, our cancers are all different -- even when we're diagnosed with the same cancer, its still very individual. Don't beat yourself up for not living up to someone else's standards. (I say this to you as well as to myself) Breast cancer is hard, it feels like a punishment you can't figure out what you did to deserve. If your body cannot take anymore chemo, then its telling you that you've done what you can do. Let it do its part. My chemo is months behind me now, but everyday I wake up wondering was it enough? Can I have my life back now, please? And the answer is... this is the life I've got, for as long as I've got it. No guarantees. There were none before cancer and there still aren't any.

    Learning to live with the unknown is our new strategy for live. You have to accept that you've done your very best.

    Just don't give up.

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  23. I have traveled around the country interviewing young adult cancer patients for a book I have written on living with cancer in your 20s and 30s. I assure you that you are not alone in your path, your decisions, or your feelings.

    Movies, commercial, literature do a huge disservice to patients who are in your shoes: they play up the word "fight" and make our battles look like a one track course that you just plow ahead through until you cross some imaginary finish line.

    No. Our bodies, our lives, our choices are a hell of a lot more complicated than that. Cancer is not about winning or loosing, it is about learning to live with very hard, complex choices, most of which involve some kind of loss and grief. This is the cancer I live and have come to know, and it sounds like you are right in the heart of the beast.

    I think we need to do away with terms like "giving up". What does that mean? I have met plenty of young adults who have chosen to quit chemo, and they were not "giving up". They were listening to themselves. I've also met some who have quit chemo and then decided to go back on it again, and were happy with that choice too.

    This is all so personal. We cannot tell you what is right or wrong. We can only say we have love for you and for where you are at, and we'll never turn our backs on your choices no matter what. (I know I'm a total stranger - but hell, your writing is so honest I feel like I know you.)

    I do have a few questions for you though that may be helpful or not - feel free to disregard: Do you know what palliative care is, do you have a palliative care team at your hospital and have you used them? Are you at a university teaching hospital? If not is there one near you? When is the last time you received a second opinion on your case? Second opinions are not just for the first few weeks of cancer, but are really important throughout the process and can be extremely useful when at a crossroads such as yours. Even if your doc is the tops, and you are very satisfied with the care you have received, another opinion is just another perspective on the situation and a chance to learn about different options. Any good oncologist would welcome you getting a second opinion at this point and would be very eager to hear what another doctor has to say.

    Feel free to contact me if you ever need my shoulder to lean on. You can find my email address on my blog: http://everythingchangesbook.com/


    All my best,

    Kairol

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  24. Your Doc asked you to stop. Why are you so hard on yourself about quitting?
    Rothchild Perriwinkle

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  25. hang in there honey...my prayers are with you. God speed...

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  26. Sheri,

    Your body took all that it could take. You didn't quit. You got to your goal, just not your stretch goal. Its like those who run the marathon. Some people run through the finish an extra 100 yards, some fall right at the finish and others crawl to get there. In the end, they all get the same goal. They finished the marathon.

    Some people call it runner's high. Where you get so used to the pain that you almost want it to hurt more. Some say chemo can be the same way. Don't worry, as you said , this was the original plan..4 treatments. And you shouuldn't worry. You did all that you could do. If four was all your body could take then, you went the distance.

    You might not cheer for yourself, but we all salute you and your family.

    Erik (Route53)

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  27. Dear Sheri
    quite a powerful entry!
    Come by and make some comments on my blog at: Lurkynat.
    Thanks and get better soon!
    love,natalie

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  28. Sheri,

    There is a law in psychology (William James) that if you form a picture in your mind of what you would like to be, and you keep and you hold that picture there long enough, you will soon become exactly as you have been thinking.

    So picture yourself, healthy....running in the park with your kids, swimming...blow drying your hair...going to get a hair cut...however you want to picture you in the future... and everyday before you go to sleep...envision you just as you want to be...and you will be just that!

    ((HUGS))

    Stacy

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  29. ((((((((((((Sheri)))))))))))))

    I remember when my Aunt was in your exact same shoes, when she knew enough was enough...such a very hard decision but one only you can make.... You are an inspiration and a fighter!

    Keep the Faith...never lose Hope!

    Keeping you in my prayers always

    Hugs
    Terri

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  30. Sheri - please let us know how you are doing. We are still praying for you and hope you are feeling a bit better everyday.

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