I wanted to post my story about Annie’s life (see previous post) as a way of setting the stage for the next part of my story. I was waiting to include some cool videos of Annie chopping wood, but haven’t been able to transfer the files.
One of the reasons I was so impressed with Annie’s hard work is that I was feeling weak and tired most of the time I was there. I couldn’t walk up and down the road or neighbor’s driveway as I had in the past. I had to pace myself to do small tasks. I just didn’t have the energy that I was used to.
When I got home, I saw my PCP right away and began testing to see what was going on. I suspected that the cancer was back.
First we looked at blood disorders. My hemoglobin had dropped from 10.7 to 9.4 so we knew I was anemic but not why. Most of the blood tests came back within normal limits so the following week I had a CT of the chest, abdomen and pelvis. Along with the anemia I had lost weight. I lost ten pounds intentionally in November, but when I started eating normally, the pounds kept slipping down instead of up, as they always had in the past.
The CT scan showed lesions on my spine, the likelihood of metastasis to the bone. The next week I met with my oncologist from Rush on Monday, a new oncologist out here on Wednesday, and had a bone marrow biopsy on Thursday and a PET scan on Friday–all this in the midst of the Covid-19 quarantine. (I think the timing was a benefit as I was able to get all this done fairly quickly and with few other people around.) We are assuming that the bone marrow will show the same kind of estrogen positive receptors as were involved in my breast cancer seven years ago. If so, the treatment (already begun) is a simple change in my daily medication. I’ve been taking Tamoxifen for six years. Most breast cancer patients take it for five years and then stop. My oncologist told me from the beginning that because of my lymph node involvement I would need to be on one of these drugs for the rest of my life so they were stretching the Tamoxifen to see how long it would work before starting another. It probably stopped working sometime late fall, but the effects of it didn’t catch up with me until February.
She promised that this time around the treatment would be “slow and gentle” and optimistically told me I could live for a long time with it. Right now, I am waiting for the meds to kick in and do their job, hopefully reversing my anemia and allowing me to function more normally.
But hey–who’s life is normal these days anyways? Its easy to be quarantined with so little energy and I’m not having to do it “alone.” Everybody else is in the same boat. John and Lizi are taking good care of me. I am at peace knowing God is in control of all the details, even in the midst of of a world pandemic. My heart aches for all who are suffering as a result and I certainly understand that people are feeling anxious and stressed. I’m in one of those places in life when I can’t do anything to change the circumstances of my personal life or that of the world around me, so it’s fairly “easy” to trust God.
- “Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge. I say to the Lord, You are my Lord, I have no good apart from you.” –Psalm 16:1
- “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed and come to know that you are the Holy one of God.” –Peter, in John 6:68
- “For who is God, but the Lord? And who is a Rock, except our God? The God who has equipped me with strength.” –Psalm 18: 31-32
tP. S. I’ve heard back from the doctor on my tests: The PET scan showed no new hot spots and the bone marrow biopsy showed that this is the same cancer from the breast, which means we are already on the right treatment path, not a new cancer. That’s actually good news. My hemoglobin went up tp 8.4, so the medicine seems to be working, though slowly. My doctor said it would take 3-4 weeks before I will start to feel better.
One last thing: Here I am with the “cancer quilt” my sister-in-law made for me seven years ago. Still wrapped in the encouragement from all who contributed. Also enjoying the sunshine 🙂