Baldies' Blog began originally in the UK by a 26 year old journalist with a blood cancer on a mission to inform the world about bone marrow donation.

He has since died, and I took on the cause of making cancer care more transparent for everybody.

Cancer is a disease that will touch everybody through diagnosis or affiliation: 1 in 2 men will be diagnosed and 1 in 3 woman will hear those words, "You Have Cancer."

I invite you to read how I feel along my journey and
how I am continuing to live a full life alongside my Hodgkin's lymphoma, with me controlling my cancer, not my cancer controlling me.

I hope that "Baldies' Blog" will prepare you to handle whatever life sends you, but especially if it's the message, "You Have Cancer."

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Monday, August 8, 2011

Hearing "the News"

 I got off the phone quickly with Dr. G. I've just gotten the call I have had so many times before: my PET scan looks bad. The cancer has spread rapidly from my right kidney to retro-peritoneum, my mediastinum and lastly, just for kicks, in the bone @ L4 in my spine.

I have never had lymphoma metastasizes to the bone before.

That's what sent me into tearful shock. Well, not the only thing, but that was part of it.

 I managed to make an appointment for Friday to discuss "options." "Pain control" was thrown in there.

 Even after so many years, I'm still not ready to quit. I'm not ready to hear you're dying, and I'm not there yet. Quitting is not in my vocabulary. 

I said at the beginning I wanted to be able to tell x that I tried everything. 

I thought, originally, that I'd get cancer, suffer miserably, then be cured by the grace of God to restore faith to people. I'd love for my cure to be a miracle. I know I've all ready received two in my life, may be third time is a charm? 

With all the prayers said on my behalf, I've received so many graces through the years, I know the prayers asking for my cure were heard. Graces were supposed to be used asking for my health too, but a lot of times there was someone who needed them more. Then when a loved one wasn't in trouble I prayed for the cure for everyone even if I had to die. 

I said, God knew best. It didn't feel right taking all the graces when God knows the master plan, what's yet to come, and how I fit into the cycle. I guess I put myself at the hands of fate, the great scheme of the universe. 

The loss of life is a huge event. If a butterfly can change events with a flap of their wings imagine what happens with a death.

 It's not a decision I want to make ever. Luckily, I can't. I don't get a choice anyway.

 I'm lucky I've been able to give my disease to God and have faith I'd be taken care of. This is why I've been able to make decisions and never look back. 

I don't dwell on what ifs or what I should've done different, because I can't change the past. I can only move forward, quickly. I think being able to move forward without guilt or questionings has been one of my greatest assets and coping mechanisms in fighting. 

I remember the serenity prayer: God, Grant Me The Serenity to accept the things I can not change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. 

After I got off the phone, my whole past, my whole life, my dreams and visions for the future flashed before my eyes crashing down into a big pile of rubble. 

I have always, morbidly, thought that I wouldn't live to see 30. I have never been able to envision life beyond the big 3-0, and getting this news right before my 29th birthday is devastating.

All I could do was cry, staring into empty space and try to think. I was paralyzed by grief, by the loss of my health, possibly my life. 

Getting "the call" never gets easier. It always gets the same reaction. The dumbfounded feeling of having your whole life sucker punched in the gut knocking the wind out.

 While stunned, I still feel like I need to do something, anything. But what? I had to prepare. There were things to do: my will, ok, contingency plans? Ok. I needed a plan.

Not knowing where to go, I called my parents sobbing. My mom just had to hear my sniffles over the phone before she said "we'll be right over."

Some how I had managed to hide all this from x, who was lying on the floor happily playing. In reality, there'd only been a couple minutes since the phone call, and my crying or sobs are usually muffled and quiet.

 X was so absorbed in his video game he probably hadn't even glanced back. X knew something was up when the parents came over. I wiped my tears (again without him ever noticing my crying) and told him my cancer came back.

 He shook his head solemnly as if saying, "I understand" before asking to go play outside with Pepere. I needed time to grieve. I'd been stunned but I didn't want x to see it. 

Too bad he came in to ask mom and I to come outside to check out his skills, walking in on our hugging cryfest. He seems to slowly be adjusting to the news. I don't think he totally understands right now.

What felt best, what I needed and made me feel so comfortable and safe was that in the moment I was feeling my weakest, my saddest there was somebody I could call to hold me and grieve with me.

 Loving supportive relationships are the best "possession" in the world. 

All the fighting over land, money and oil, and who would have guessed, the best things in life are free.

 We followed x outside, who now was really registering the severity of the situation. As he was leaving on the 4-wheeler he held my hands and said in his innocent 8 year old voice, "I'm sorry you have cancer" then drove off with pepere as we walked away sniffling, the sobs coming back.

After mom and I got the tears out, I fell asleep quickly. Getting such serious news is exhausting.

I was able to tell J the results that night after he got home. I thought we were safe when suddenly I heard a shocked, panicked, "You're going to die?!"

And of course, my immediate reaction was to say, "NO! What are you talking about? Everybody dies sometime. No worries. Go back to bed."

He did go back to bed, but I know he'd registering the seriousness of this. We're going to talk more about it. I want him to know his sadness, frustration, anxiety and anger are all normal. I want him to know it's okay to cry and let it all out. He needs to talk about it. I know the right time will come up, soon.


lanabanana said...

"Loving supportive relationships are the best "possession" in the world.

All the fighting over land, money and oil, and who would have guessed, the best things in life are free."

This is so, so true! If only we could all live each day like it will be our last, the world would be a better place. You have crammed more into your life thus far, than most people do by the time their 80 and I know that's been important to you. This is definitely news to grieve and there are many of us grieving right along with you.


Anonymous said...

You make me so proud Hillary ... you have become so important to me & while we are from different generations ... you've taught me much. Thank you ... for your grace ... your courage ... your tenacity ... your strength ... your caring ... & for being one of the most beautiful poeple on the planet!!