After I felt fully recovered from my lung surgery in May, I began acting like I was on the “had” side of this cancer world. Although I didn’t look like my old self, I was finally starting to feel like it. I have been enjoying my new hair styles, and was planning to keep it this short for quite some time. I began planning trips for Spring/Summer of 2016. I was purchasing new blazers, shirts and dress pants for work – telling everyone who asked that I was going back in November. When speaking with newly diagnosed people – I discovered I was the person on the other side of the table now. Helping them through the tough parts when you are first diagnosed, talking about their fears, being their inspiration because look at me and what I have endured – and I’m ok now.
Man, did I ever speak too soon.
Wednesday I was certain my scan would be clear. Maybe the doubt was a tiny 0.1% for the other way, but that is just because nothing is ever 100%. My surgeon called me in, shut the door, and wasn’t messing around.
“Jamie, it’s back and it’s bad. You have multiple tumours showing in your lung and liver. I’m sorry to come out and say this to you so fast, but I wanted to get right to it. When I saw your scans last week I wanted to phone you, but I thought that a missed call would have you worry too much. The ones in your liver are too close to the center, that I will not be able to operate. You are now what we call, a person living with disease. Chemo will start as soon as possible and you will be on it indefinitely. I’m so sorry, but I told you from the beginning your case was severe. I thought this day would come some day, but truthfully I did not think it would be this soon. Our hope is that the chemo will at least keep things at bay, and not have any more growth for now. I have had patients live up to 7 years with disease still in them. I honestly do not have a patient of your age with your severe condition, so I am not sure what to expect.”
Best word used to describe the way I feel – heartbroken.
I love my surgeon. The man saved my life – how could I not love him? The only thing I would change however – but I think this goes for all surgeons – they need to give WAY more information on how to proceed post operation. Of course it is awesome that you helped to save lives, but then a lot of us are left with a big nasty scar, and not a whole lot of information. Recently I was informed that the reason my stomach now looks so funny, has a lot to do with the amount of scar tissue I have. I knew this (kind of), but what I did not know is that there is actually something I can do about it. There are registered massage therapists out there who specialize in helping to break down the scar tissue underneath the skin. Over time this helps to flatten it out and allow the tissue to begin laying back to normal. Who knew!? Not I. Could I have started this process sooner? Probably not, because my entire body was so tender during chemo that I would not have been able to handle the massage. Enough time has passed now from my last surgery that I am finally able to get some help. It is not the most comfortable procedure – a stranger running their hands up and down my scar – however I do believe it will help. I will take a picture today and then one again after six sessions and let you all know what the deal is. Stay tuned.
It is hard to explain the way I have experienced this year and a half. One thing I have come to realize, is that it really did fly by. It seems like just last week I was leaving work and heading to a bar to throw back a couple on a Friday. Regular life. I was laughing because I was genuinely happy, and looking forward to all that life would bring me in the future. This I believe has been one of the main issues when it comes to my relationships with other people. In their world, a lot has happened in a year and a half. Maybe it dragged on for them because they were stuck in some boring job they wanted out of. So a week goes by, then a month, then a few months, and all of the sudden we have lost touch. The reasoning is usually always the same, “I’m so sorry…I’m sure you have had a lot going on… you seem really busy…. I have been keeping up with your blog and Instagram.”. Oh have you? Good for you. So because of that you think that we are still friends? I guess it was “cool” to have a friend that was dying at first, but now that I have decided to turn it all around you don’t need me on your roster anymore. Well here’s the truth. It hurts. Inside I am still the same person who isn’t sick. I know I can’t do everything I used to be able to, but that doesn’t mean not to ask. Yes for a while I was unable to drive – but that was months ago. I am fully capable now and could come visit – but how would you know that because you never care to ask.
It is very true that when something big happens in your life you discover who your true friends are. What they don’t explain is if you wait it out, a lot of those friends will fizzle away to leave you with your actual TRUE list. Thank you for those who continue to stick by my side even though I am no longer the “cool dying girl”.
For everyone else, please learn from this – as I am sure one day someone else you know will need support. A simple text every now and again to just say hello, or send a funny picture, or whatever – really says a lot. “I think of you often” doesn’t do anything.