Sunday, September 28, 2008

Death and Dying Issues

But First here are a few composits my dad made of my new nephew, Miles, my other nephew, Drew and my sister, Paige.

Baby miles.
Aunt Paige and Drew (the new big brother)

I Promised it and then Had Surgery and Forgot

Here is what I wrote about death and dying a while ago that I said I would post to the site. Yes, I still have issues with death and dying. But first, I have to give a few quick updates.

1. My port surgery site is healing up a little. I think the hole is a little smaller. It will be a while. Still hurts

2. Getting the crown fixed was immediately followed with a whole week of terrible tooth pain followed up by eventually a root canal. I basically never went off the Viccodin. The tooth is finally good and I can sleep through the night and I am all done with pain medicine.

3. I am seriously considering moving from the caringbridge website to a Google blog. Okay, I have already moved all my journal entries over there. I am still working on setting it up and getting pictures on there. I will explain the transition soon and let you know all the pros and cons. I think you will all like it better.

And now the death and dying entry. Let me first say, I usually am not thinking like this. At this point in time I was having a difficult time dealing with death. Anyway, go ahead and read.

About a month ago I heard about a woman I met at the “Young Adults” cancer support group at Gildas who died. Holy crap. I just saw her about two months ago and she seemed fine. This completely made my stomach drop like you wouldn’t believe. I got scared. Of course I felt bad for her and really felt bad for her family. She is pretty young and also had a couple of young kids (one 5 year old and one 4 year old) and a husband. I felt so bad that they were left without a mother. Then, the fear came in. The one time I talked to her she had liver mets (tumors on her liver) just like me. She had breast cancer and had hair about 1 inch long. She was about to start Xeloda while also on Herceptin so she was asking me about Xeloda (I was taking it at the time). I told her how easy Xeloda was to do and I also told her what to do to make the hand foot syndrome as minimal as possible. She then said she was Her II positive. I told her she was lucky because Herceptin has proved to be so successful. I then told her about my friend Brenda who had brain mets and was on Herceptin and how well she was doing and how she was just given an all clear from the doctors. I could tell she was happy to hear that story. My doctor was even hoping my cancer changed and became HerII positive so I could get Herceptin and have better survival odds. I told her I was going to start a group for young survivors and I wanted her to join. She seemed interested. She seemed to have such a good attitude about everything. So how come I got this email saying she had passed? How could things go wrong so quickly. Was it the liver mets? I know the liver is a really bad place to have tumors already. I didn’t need this to scare me anymore. I thought I was over the whole laundry detergent thing and this took me right back to where I was. I could possibly not see the end of the next container if things go bad quickly, which sometimes they can. How can I ever plan for anything out in the future when the next couple months could be so unknown? I keep thinking I am past the fear and past worrying about how long I have, but sometimes things like this remind me I am not completely okay with my situation no matter how hard I try.

When I did the Crazy Sexy Boot Camp with Kris Carr in Austin (May this year) we had about 13 people. Months after the boot camp I also was sent a message saying that one of the members had passed. She also seemed fine when we met and all those same feelings came up. (How could this happen so fast?) A month before she died I was trying to talk her into going on the trapeze with everyone. How could you go from contemplating the trapeze to no longer living? I guess we all expect people to look sick before they die. I know everyone measures someone’s health by how they look. Everyone always tells me I look great and people who learn I have cancer are surprised. I used to think it was because I was so healthy, but now I am second guessing that.

Then, after all this just happened, my neighbor’s friend, who had cancer, died. Kevin and I were outside and we went to tell her we were sorry to hear about her friend. We talked about it and she said “yeah, well it was all over her liver so there wasn’t really much they could do” (another big stomach drop for me) YIEKS!! I have it all over my liver!! Basically, my neighbor was saying that once the cancer is all over your liver, you’re a goner. I don’t think she remembered my current situation. I don’t blame her for saying this. Most people believe the same thing (as did I when I was re-diagnosed). As I sat there nodding and listening on the outside, I was crushed and freaking out on the inside. It was really difficult to hear. I know my neighbor would have never said such a thing if she understood how much a blow to my spirit it would have been. I completely understand that many things are said and no one can tiptoe around cancer survivors. I’m sure I have delivered a devastating blow to someone and not even noticed it. How can they know that one little phrase worded a certain way could deliver such a terrible feeling to someone trying to keep a good mental state about their situation?

All three of these events happened very close to one another while at the same time my cancer was back to growing and being active on my liver. I never really broke down or cried about it. I talked to Kevin and rationalized with myself. Then I wrote about it to hopefully get those thoughts in my computer and hopefully outside of my head. If I am going to be in all these groups for cancer I am going to have to understand that I might come across these situations. I hope in the future I can deal with this better and not let it imply any outcome for me. The future is unknown and no one can tell me what lies ahead.

Happy to be alive

1 comment:

  1. Hey Shannon,

    Insurance used to be simple. Now we all feel like we are getting taken for a ride. I wish I could make it easier for you because you have had more than your fair share of negative insurance experiences. If you haven't already - you should have Bittner check out your back due to the accident. I am sending love & good vibes your way.



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