Navigating the land mines

I once read that receiving a diagnosis of cancer is like “being thrown out of a helicopter over a guerrilla war zone with a parachute, but with no compass, no weapons, no map, and no training in survival”. In my case, I would say that I had no parachute, everything happened so fast that I never realized I was on the helicopter until I was pushed over the edge with no time to put my parachute on.  I was lucky enough to have a compass and somewhat of a map that was provided to me by the many wonderful doctors I have worked with and met in my career as a psychologist. The guerrilla war zone though, I can totally relate to. I feel like ever since I was diagnosed I have been trying to avoid land mines.

Once we found the cancer in my liver, it became imperative to find the “primary cancer”. The biopsy results were pointing in the direction of the colon so a colonoscopy was ordered first. Thankfully we didn’t have to search too long and found the culprit right away: a mass that had been growing in my colon for about 10 years according to my dear (haha) GI doctor. Then the PET scan came which again thankfully did not reveal “anything new”. With each procedure comes anxiety and fear about what can be found and it feels like you want to tiptoe around everything to make sure you don’t step on another land mine. I was excited to meet with my oncologist, I had met her before professionally and thought very highly of her. I knew she was extremely compassionate, caring, and knowledgeable. She also came highly recommended by peers and friends. So I felt like I could finally breath, that I would be safe and secure in her office, that I finally did not have to tiptoe. The first thing she said when she came in was “you must be very loved, I have had 3 doctors call me about you!”. I felt in good hands – sigh of relief. What I didn’t know is that I was still in the war zone and had to watch out for more land mines. The first visit was extremely hard. I can still see her face vividly when she told us “there is no cure” and gave us the prognosis with a big hug. I have promised myself and Fred not to share her prognosis with anybody because in many years from now, I want to be able to triumphantly say to the world “and my doctor told me my prognosis was x and I really proved her wrong!”. Nonetheless, my oncologist assured me that she would do EVERYTHING she could and that she was making this fight “personal”. I believe and trust her on this one.

It hasn’t been a month yet since I received the diagnosis but to me it feels like decades ago. There aren’t as many land mines but I still feel them. Sometimes it is a hug from my husband that throws me over the edge and sends me into inconsolable sobs, sometimes it is putting my kids to bed or a spontaneous hug from them, sometimes it’s my own thoughts that create yet another explosion. Fear and sadness have been a part of me, a part hard to get rid of, this is no easy terrain.

I have been so driven, so determined, (so pig-headed at times), and so goal oriented all my life that I know I have it in me to fight, fight and fight some more. What really sucks this time around is that I have not chosen this goal, it has chosen me. When I was pregnant with Sebastien, my ob/gyn wanted to induce me. I so did not want to be induced and especially not on a Thursday evening like he wanted to (I had requested to be induced Friday morning because we didn’t have family in town to watch Pierro) and he had responded “no because I like to have dinner with my family Friday nights”!!!).  Well believe it or not, I woke up that Thursday morning in labor and popped that little (hum 9lbs 15oz) boy out by 1pm. I showed my ob/gyn who was in charge just like I will show my oncologist. Dr. Duhaime, just watch me!!!

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4 thoughts on “Navigating the land mines

  1. I braced myself before I read ‘aug 15’ I wanted to have time to cry, rage and feel the horrible terror that cancer brings. Yet you have so convincingly brought forth your triumphant spirit that I’m left ready to help you find weapons, a compass, and survival skills. You will chart new territory. You do not cease to amaze me.

  2. Rachel, a favorite quotation in our household…………
    “Never place a period where God has placed a comma”. You will be held by many in prayer and God’s Grace will see you thorough the gut wrenching turmoil that lies ahead. God bless!
    SjJR,,,(Rachael’s mom)

  3. Pingback: The Booty Run | Beating Stage IV Colon Cancer at 40

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