Breast cancer lesson number 34: Take one day at a time

Hermione Granger (of Harry Potter fame) has something every single cancer patient needs. By this, I don’t mean books (although you get given quite a few), a wand (wouldn’t say no, though) or intellect (although it does come in handy when tackling those cancer terms). By this, I mean a time turner. Basically, if you ever need to be in two places at any time, you can.

In the absence of said magical device, this morning was a little bit challenging. My task, on the face of it, was simple. Visit the Assisted Conception Unit at 9am for a blood test with an anaesthetist and then head over to oncology for a 9.45am with a cancer doctor. You can usually get quite a lot done in 45 minutes. Not so in hospital. Blink and you can miss a whole day in cancer land.

Armed with a cup of tea (second of the day as first was one designed to warm the veins), five layers and a scarf, I was toasty and ready for my blood test at 8.50am. Little did I know, it would be 11.20am when they actually managed to squeeze me in to take it (by which time I had changed departments, undressed for the oncologist, redressed, and pretty much lost the benefit of all the tea drinking). The good news? He got the blood. The bad news? It wasn’t easy. The good news? At least I can handle the pain even with bad veins. The bad news? Even with a high pain threshold, it still wasn’t very nice.

Why is it that time always seems to disappear quickly when you need it the most? Running between departments certainly doesn’t do much for the stress levels, so first lesson of the day is: one day, one appointment. Any more and you quickly develop an unhealthy obsession with clocks (which all conveniently like to tell different times). In fact, I think my Blackberry likes to tease me by moving forward a minute a day just to play with my mind.

Albeit in the wrong order, I did get to both appointments and, am now, one step closer to the end of my treatment. Abraham Lincoln once said: ‘the best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.’ All I can say is, thank goodness for that. Today, I got one long look into the future. Eighteen weeks of chemotherapy followed by five weeks of radiotherapy. My reward for passing this endurance challenge? Five years of anti-oestrogen drug Tamoxifen. If that future came all at once in a giant high-dose injection, I think my body would probably start walking… with my mind not far behind. Put it this way, left arm certainly wouldn’t produce a vein for that one.

Having had a whistle-stop tour through the world of cancer drugs and its wonderful list of side effects (starting with: ‘you will lose your hair’), it didn’t take long for the subject of time to rear its head once more. Because the cancer they extracted so neatly from my body was high stage and aggressive, they want to get going… as soon as possible. For someone still strapped into a body corset for the next three weeks and still currently injecting herself with fertility drugs in any part of her body that doesn’t feel tender (there aren’t many of those left), the prospect of swapping one set of drugs for another lot (while also still trying to laugh and cough without my tummy hurting) is not particularly inviting. Guys, this is really hard – and don’t let anyone tell you any different.

It looks like my next two weeks will be a delicate juggling act of blood tests (both fertility and cancer), appointments (scans, tests and assessments), a quick anaesthetic to collect some eggs and possibly the insertion of a PICC line. Fertility and cancer are fighting for my attention and they both need time. Trouble is, by the looks of both schedules (and the current uncertainty surrounding egg harvesting day) neither really wants to wait in line. Far from avoiding two appointments in one day, I’ll be hard pushed to avoid two at the same time. If life can’t magic up a time turner (or just a few extra hours in each day), I will just have to get used to the fact that the day I wake up expecting might not be the day I end up experiencing. 

The future does looks brighter with a game plan, and I just have to accept that, for the foreseeable future, my time is not my own. All I can do is take one day at a time. If I can get through this unscathed, I will give myself the best chance of survival. Then, I might just have time on my hands – or on my side – once more. 

7 thoughts on “Breast cancer lesson number 34: Take one day at a time

  1. My best advice to you us to find something that you can control during these months where so much of your life is up to others. For me, it was running. When I run, life feels normal and I’m strong. Pick one thing that brings out the best in you and hold on for dear life; it will make all the difference.

  2. I know how hard it is doing the fertility between all the oncology spots. It sucks! And you get a little crazy. My 8 embryos cost me $1000 a year to freeze! And the have not started school yet! Lol

    1. Wow! Expensive embryos. I hope one day you get to use that money to buy pretty clothes and toys! I think it were just doing fertility, it would be fine. I think it were just having surgery, it would be fine. But, as you say, surgery, fertility, oncology (and bad veins) just blows the mind. I don’t want to inject myself any more and I know I just have to keep going. J x

      1. Keep at it! I know some way, some how THIS is all worth it. I may take up phlebotomy and start myself up on the ride to the hospital lol! The good thing about the ivf injections I was able to inject myself with the neulasta injection two days after chemo, saved me $35 each time so some positive! The worst part not only are my 8 embryos $1000 a year I have to get a surrogate to carry 😦 it breaks my heart cancer took that away also, hysterectomy last year but my tumor was 98% ER+ the big C would have come back. A year ago we met with a surrogate agency, with my health insurance covering the carrier (many don’t) it still will cost $60,000 and more if its multiples! So as I am 39 I am so scared I’m gonna be the old mom in the class lol I had my son with my ex at 24. I would be happy to adopt but my new husband was a biological child and my son is his adopted son, I totally get it. It just makes me bonkers that there are no places to help people like me. I know the live strong foundation helps if you have no IBF benefits but won’t pay for the cryopreservation of the embryos or for the carrier its just sad, they really need something to help us cancer patients. At this point we can barley afford to live with my disability being denied. However I’m just happy to be alive to even complain about all of this lol! I know the injections suck, the last nurse said day of and night before try to drink A LOT of gatoraid , I usually do water but I’ll try anything! Just think each on you get, is one less you will need to have. 😉

  3. helensamia

    Cancer takes all the control away like a greedy parasite.. It is so difficult when you have to juggle the different areas that need attention… Take care ❤️❤️

  4. You’re both so right. Cancer likes to take control, but this is our way of grabbing some of that control back! Can’t wait to get those embryos in the bank and then move on to stage 3 of the treatment. I am sorry to hear it is so expensive for you. That must be heartbreaking. Big hugs to you. J x

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