Kitchen Table

I sit at the kitchen table today that is the same table at which I sat when I got the call telling me I had breast cancer.

I love this client that I am sitting for this weekend. The two dogs I am babysitting now are not the ones that gave me comfort during some of the worst days of my life. Both of those dogs are sadly dead; and new, young, brash dogs are in their place—keeping me on my toes this weekend!! But I miss the Labradoodle; whose constant digging of deep holes on the beach that awful week kept me busy filling them back up, so people would not trip. It was a good distraction.

I suppose I am bound to be a bit introspective this autumn, given that I approach my 5 year mark—whatever the hell that means. To me it does not mean much, but I am sure my oncologist, and some acquaintances, will look at this as some great milestone. I’m beyond another hurdle, and maybe my chances of recurrence and/or metastasis are lower now. I’d like to believe that, but all the articles I read now, citing cases of recurrence more than a decade after original diagnosis, make me unsure. I am certainly NOT jubilant or running around saying “cured!” like some fool. I consider myself lucky these days; at least my original oncologist was not a total idiot—he informed me there was such a thing as metastasis—which I knew in the abstract anyway. It seems there are quite a few Stage 4 women out there who were not informed. I shake my head in incredulity at that. Doctors who do not inform these patients should be reprimanded at the VERY least. Incompetent.

This kitchen table is where I sat a little over 2 years after diagnosis, about a month after treatment ended, when I decided to take-this-job-and-shove-it, and subsequently embarked on making my own pet sitting business official, and my primary source of income. I’m not going to get all “cancer taught me life is too short to be miserable” and say cancer was behind the decision. I already knew life was short and I was more than miserable; let’s just say being cancer-fatigued makes that sort of thing easier. You know, the kind of tired beyond caring about anything. It has not been easy, in fact most of 2012 was incredibly difficult—as difficult as my cancer months (Oct 2010-Jan 2012). But I have NOT regretted it.

Psychologically I am not totally healed from either of those incidents; but I am so much better now. Maybe a little better with the cancer stuff, if I am to be totally honest. Thanks to finding like-minded cancer patients online. Thanks to some online friends not in the cancer realm, but whose help was invaluable in so many ways (thanks @angel-of-malahide and @andlifeisgrand). And thanks to some in real life folks, who have mentored me and made me better.

Lots of ink is spilled about “trigger warnings” and coddling of young Americans with such warnings. Are we too fragile to be triggered? I cannot afford such fragility. I need these gigs for my income, so I take them, even if the client’s kitchen table brings back horrible memories. I’m sure most cancer patients don’t avoid places where they received their news—especially if it were their very own homes! But yes, I am sitting here and remembering. But it is not all bad. It just is a timeline that I reflect upon as I approach a milestone. I hate the saying it is what it is because it is soooo overused. BUT, hey, it is what it is. I got cancer, I quit a job, and here I am, for better or worse.

I admit this kitchen table has brought up some unpleasantness, some introspection when I’d rather be looking at cat videos (or all those other internet things that distract me and make me “waste” my time—but if I’m laughing my butt off, is it really waste?). I knew it was coming. I see my “new” oncologist (well, I’ve seen him a few times since early 2014, he is just new because he was not my doc during treatment) in a few weeks. As it will soon be 5 years, we can talk about just yearly visits; not these twice a year treks. I’m all for that! I HATE all doctor visits—even my poor old optometrist, who is really not so bad.

Good. Bring on the once a year. I am more than ready to get over this next milestone. Here is to hoping that new disasters (recurrence/metastasis) do not await me.

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Author: Cancer Curmudgeon

Oct 2010 diagnosed with Stage 3, HER2+ Breast Cancer. Completed treatment Jan 2012. Waaaaaay over pink. Applying punk rock sensibility to how I do cancer.

15 thoughts on “Kitchen Table”

  1. I am not even counting the years since my dx (I think next year may be my 5 year mark?). I have heard too many stories and I don’t get excited about much these days. But I am grateful I am still here. I am also glad you are still here and I wish you many, many more healthy years.

    As you may already know I have some cancer associations that will probably follow me for the rest of my life (especially my mutated gene, ATM). I do have those moments when I think about the day of the “phone call” which also happened at home. Good thing they haven’t affected us to the point where we had to make drastic decisions (well, I can’t hear my phone ring so I leave it on vibrate). I once knew this girl who moved out of her apt. and got new furniture because she spent all her cancer treatments at home (I guess she had the resources to do so — lucky her!). Personally, I would hate for cancer to have that much power over me (not judging at all though, everyone copes differently I guess).

    Like you, I have issues with giving cancer credit for anything. Kudos to you for doing something you love and care for.

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    1. In some ways I wonder maybe I am lucky to have a new oncologist now. I went thru a phase of hating the treatment center even when i still went there for support group meetings! So for all the hassle of switching docs, transferring records, maybe in the end it was good because I have mo bad associations? Who knows?
      But yes, WE are still here and that is what we celebrate!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a great read! I feel the exact same way. It’s a def hurdle/milestone, but really doesn’t keep the anxiety of things away… I do love only annual visits though… Congrats on the pending 5 year mark!!!
    xx

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    1. Thanks–I do look forward, cautiously of course, to mapping out my next 5 years of once a year only visits, and then hopefully a permanent good bye. I mean, my onc is a nice guy and all, but I won’t miss him….xoxxo

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  3. When I was diagnosed I read too much. Too much contradictory information + cancer diagnosis = bad combination. Having stepped back from it I realise there is no rhyme or reason to the whole cancer/reoccurrence/metastasis thing, or at least none that can be easily explained or, seemingly, eliminated any time soon. So though it is overused, it really is what it is and the five year mark seems almost as arbitrary as the one year of herceptin. I hope the new dogs learn to dig holes and you get many, many years chasing along filling them back up… You may be the cancer curmudgeon but no-one would ever be that considerate over here!

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    1. So funny, I did not know about the 1 year thing of Herceptin until I was done with it for 2 years–the oncologist just mentioned it in passing. Not sure how I’d missed that tidbit–but I did not find much HER2 info while I was in treatment.
      Oh gosh, how awful when people do not fill in the holes! We had fun terrorizing people at the beach over the weekend! Thanks!

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  4. I love your website!!!! I think the C word not cancer but “Cured” freaks me out more than anything. I was diagnosed 25 yrs ago in my 30’s given a poor prognosis.. I was Triple negative so chemo etc… Mastectomy no recon for me, wouldn’t even consider it, then 25 years later… Last year… It’s back. This time it’s Triple Positive…so more chemo, this time herceptin, another MX, still no recon.
    And yet, for all this cancer, I’m a non smoker, non drinker, runner. First time I was a vegetarian, last time I was a vegan who the hell know his this crap works. I really don’t think cancer made me a better or more sensitive person.. But it has allowed me to now have a fucking piece of cake if I want it!!!!
    I happen to like possum videos not cat videos they make me laugh (so shoot me) I’m glad you’re digging the dogs and stopping the dogs from digging beach holes!!!
    Just finishing my herceptin at the end of Dec..and will be glad to get my port removed. Keep up the crumeodgeoning ( is that a word and did I even spell it correctly?? Who knows)

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    1. Thank you so much–sorry I did not answer earlier, I must’ve not seen your comment!
      Ha ha, I went thru a goat video phase…
      Ugh, from triple neg to triple pos? Insane! And for all the awareness out there–the average person has no idea what any of that means. Sigh.
      Yep, I will keep on curmudgeoning–it is my “thing”!

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  5. I felt that way at five years, which was two years ago. I will admit that I feel a bit less fraught now when I face my now-annual checkups & mammograms. But then I think, crap, I should feel better than this after seven years. Oy. Sometimes I don’t think I know what ‘better’ would even feel like. One day, one year at a time. I’m glad that you are at five years though. It’s not nothing. xoxo, Kathi

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  6. It seems like we are feeling a lot of the same things. I’m two years out from stage 2b triple negative bc and I’m coming to the realization that the possiblity of recurrence really never ends. It’s nice to pass each milestone, but the danger really never goes away. Wishing you the best.

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    1. Thanks! I will admit that the fear is still here, as my oncology appointment is just a few days away. But the fear is less acute. I wonder if I am feeling less fearful, more confident that things will be ok–falling into the 5 year mystical thinking trap. But I think what is really going on is that I’ve become accustomed to the fear itself. It is familiar, so I give it less attention. But it is still there.

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  7. I think I just passed the 2-year mark but for me, it doesn’t mean anything because cancer is so prevalent in my family, especially since the recent death of one of my sons to pancreatic cancer. Life is short no matter how we look at it, everyone wants more time, but while counting down days of being declared “cured” (ha) one might die in a car wreck.

    So glad you are on the once-a-year visit to the oncologist now. Keep on curmudgeoning!!

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