I am doing GREAT! Really well considering the circumstances.
We all have circumstances, right? For me, it's been a challenging season. Sure, I am walking through treatment for breast cancer. It's been a ride to be a family physician during a pandemic, with the need to read a lot and listen to opinions and help my patients make decisions, to do what I can to be a leader for my community, and all. I am glorying in this current opportunity to come up for air in this break in the pandemic May it be the end or at least the beginning of the end.
My mother's health has shifted in ways that have made it important for me to travel to SC whenever my own health allows. I am holding space for other members of my family who are also facing their own hard times.
The clouds of war and the threat of global climate collapse weigh heavily on me as a person and as a mother.
I am so lucky to have people who love me and who want to know how the treatment for breast cancer is going. So, as of today, here it is:
There is snow on the ground. Nearly 6 inches here in the woods of Northern Boone County. In March. Not supposed to get melting temps until Sunday, when it is forecast to be nearly 60. The winter and the spring alternating echo how I feel during this time of my treatment. A week or so of difficulty melts into feeling well.
I have come through 6 cycles of chemotherapy. I did actually really well, considering. Cycles are a good image. A week of not feeling very good: tired, unmotivated, a little itchy, sore fingers, not really excited about food, a funny change in taste, some tenderness in my mouth that really didn't like food that had much texture. Then these discomforts would gradually melt away until the third week, I felt really good. The return of energy, enthusiasm, and feeling good in my body is quite enjoyable.
My cancer is responding by getting smaller. I am convinced that for me, chemotherapy was a good choice.
Surgery is in a week. I am attempting to advocate for myself to have the pain from the procedures before the surgery managed well, but am up against a pretty big system. I am envisioning a little crack in the system that will let me through. I have seen these miracles happen and it's usually cause a visionary front line worker takes a risk, speaks up or sneaks through, and makes something happen that isn't quite policy.
Emotionally and spiritually I am doing very well, again considering. It's a cliche for a reason that cancer brings gifts. I am walking through a late spring snow. I don't like the sadness and loss that comes with facing mortality, with having big medical things to deal with, with seeing the very real problems of our medical system. I am very grateful that self-pity and bitterness have not been visitors who stayed very long when they visit. There is also a warm sweetness to appreciate in the life I have. Nothing like feeling bad to make me appreciate the days I feel good. A dear friend says I am softer. That rings with truth to me.
Complementary therapies have been central to my physical and emotional health. I have embraced fasting (both fasting mimicking diet and intermittent fasting), supplements, sauna, Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, EMDR, counseling Psychedelic Assisted Therapy, exercise, physical therapy, cooling of hands and feet, cannabis, craniosacral therapy, and a lot of prayer.
My practice has, so far, survived this winter. I have had far less energy to devote to my patients and many have found other places to get health care. I understand and want all of them to get exactly the very best they can. Two nurse practitioners joined my practice and have kept the fires burning when I wasn't in the office. I have been able to work 1-2 days per week and the patients who have stayed with me for that work are much appreciated. My enthusiasm for my work is intact. I am looking forward to returning to full-time work and eager to see what working with a team of advanced practice nurses will be like. I have some ideas for new services and programs. Those will have to wait for now. Like the spring it will come.
UPDATE: I got a miracle. They did exactly what I asked for regarding pain control for all of the painful parts AND said they were considering rewriting their policies for others.