We have lived as if cancer was background noise for the longest time. Treatment when necessary, making the most of chemo-free seasons, and choosing to live in the moment.
Over the past few months, something has shifted. The “background noise” has become more front and center and demands more focus and attention.
I am currently in my sixth round of systemic chemotherapy. The goal is to get ten to twelve cycles of chemo each round. At this point, I have had five. My liver numbers are not great, and we have pushed off chemo for the past three or four cycles. The fear is that undergoing chemo will land me back in the hospital.
The good news is that my cancer appears to be stable according to all the scans (and I have undergone plenty) and bloodwork. Stable means it is not growing. The less good news is that in times like this, pushing ahead with a few more cycles of chemotherapy often leads to reducing the size of my tumors.
The real issue remains the stents in my liver. While we can swap out the stents as in the past, we are not seeing my liver numbers drop to the normal range. They come down from being severely elevated but have not returned to the normal range for the past few months.
High liver numbers mean my liver is not functioning correctly. I am not processing and/or draining the waste correctly. That manifests itself in me feeling exhausted most days. On particularly bad days, I suffer from brain fog. Brain fog makes it hard for me to think, plan, write, and read effectively.
My GI doctor is fantastic. The last time I was in the hospital, he was in Japan. The hospital doctors contacted him, and he responded almost immediately and helped them craft a plan to address my needs. It is not unusual for my GI doctor to call me at home to check in and see how I am doing. We adjust plans based on our conversations. Slowly it feels like we are making progress in getting this under control.
Physically, the feeling as if something has shifted has been scary. I asked one of my doctors if my body was shutting down. They assured me it was not. Cancer-wise, I was fine, and we had options regarding my liver. It was good to hear those words, but it still feels like something has shifted.
Emotionally I feel as if I am on a roller coaster. Day by day, moment by moment, there are twists and turns. When I struggle to walk upstairs or fall asleep for the third time sitting in my chair, it is hard to accept that this is the way life is. Awake at eight am, ready for a nap by eleven am, does not seem right.
Spiritually I find myself thinking of St. John of the Cross and Mother Theresa a lot—spiritual giants who spoke of seasons where it felt as if the Spirit of God was distant. My physical and emotional realities have made it hard for me to be still and experience the Spirit at work in my life. I feel compelled to use what little energy I have to complete different projects (age-old problem of Dan-doing -vs.- Dan-being). [Read more…]