Yes, 3 years ago today, I was diagnosed with Stage 4 ovarian cancer. For you blog followers, yes, it may be stage 3 and it was once called peritoneal, but the official paperwork all says Stage 4 ovarian, so we’ll go with that. As I have the last 2 years, I spent the last week re-reading the blog (106 entries and over 64,000 words). While some of it really makes me sad and depressed, it mostly serves as a reminder of how far I’ve come in those 1096 days, and how blessed I am.
On that day, and on many days since that time, I wasn’t sure I would live 3 years. So it IS a day of celebration and gratitude. I am a survivor of a late stage progressive form of cancer. I still don’t look much at statistics, but I’m betting mine are getting better than they were on day 1. So I WILL celebrate and rejoice and dance every single day. I sometimes forget to do that when I’m down. I forget to be so very grateful for another day. Maybe because I’m not as terrified as I was in the very beginning, but I’m reminded today about gratitude.
But like the last 2 anniversaries, it is also a mixed bag. On the first anniversary I was so full of hope – I had good results with chemotherapy and surgery, and was on what we thought was an “insurance punch” of chemo before being declared cancer free. So I didn’t feel great, but I was so sure I was finished. That “cancer free” period lasted less than 2 months. For year two, I was in a pretty dark hole – depressed and really having trouble adjusting to a new normal. This year, the word that keeps coming up for me is resigned. I’ve always seen that word as so negative – it feels synonymous with giving up. Today I finally decided to consult with Merriam-Webster and resign is defined as “to give oneself over without resistance”. And that really is a pretty good definition of where I am. I wouldn’t say I have given up, but I am certainly resigned to the fact that this gray area I find myself in right now might be my path. I still struggle with how to communicate this piece – perhaps I am just more at peace with where I am right now than I have been before. I have integrated cancer into my life but continue to deny it any control over me. The doctor isn’t sure I have any cancer. Neither am I, but I am pretty confident that IF I do have some cancer cells left behind, they just aren’t doing anything. They have no power. They aren’t dividing and spreading. I don’t feel panicked about them being there. I just feel more at peace. So if that means I’ve accepted cancer as part of my life, then so be it. It doesn’t mean I won’t keep praying for perfectly clear scans and a life completely cancer-free, but I can’t go back to that place where it was super high highs followed by the inevitable “but” that came later. Is that bad? Does that seem like I’ve given up hope? Or is it just okay that I’m resigned to this life, what is in front of me today, instead of really being so focused on where it’s going?
It definitely doesn’t mean I don’t still have really down days, days where I’m really scared, days where I mourn the life I had, the life I thought I was going to have, and those days where I feel really awful physically which impacts my head game too. I am tired of side effects of drugs but I continue to believe it’s important to stay on them anyway because these side effects are better than letting any disease run unchecked. Three years. I’ve never had even 2 months away from treatment. The small breaks I’ve had, like before and after surgery were never much more than a month. Lots of chemotherapy drugs – 18 weeks of Carboplatinum and Taxol, 3 months of Doxil, 9 more weeks of Carboplatinum, 12 months of Topotecan, and now (not chemotherapy) 20 months on Avastin and 8 months on Lynparza. Gladys the Power Port has worked well for me, and far more often than either of us thought when we first got together. I’ve had some really awful days in the last 3 years, but I’ve also had some really awesome ones. And really, doesn’t that describe all of us? So it’s a day at a time. Keep moving forward. Kickin’ cancer’s ass all the way. Fine, you moved in, but we aren’t rolling out a welcome mat for you or allowing you to bring your friends. Sit down, shut up, and get out of my way. I’ve got some living to do.
Blog tip – if you want to read the blog from the beginning or know someone who does, the link is https://annpinyan.wordpress.com/?order=asc.