It’s every survivor’s fear, the “what if”. What if my cancer comes back? What if my cancer reoccurs? What if my cancer metastasized?
It will come as no surprise to those who follow me on social media that these last few weeks have been harrowing to say the least. It’s quite possible I’ve experienced every emotion known to mankind, perhaps sometimes within 1 day or even 1 hour! The week and a half leading up to a severely anticipated pathology report was incredibly taxing, and all that preceded was a total whirlwind!
Some have asked, what is it like to have a seizure? Well, to be honest, before I knew what was happening, I didn’t actually know I was having a seizure. My seizures were what’s called partial. Meaning, I was fully awake and cognitively aware as to what was going on as it was happening. It started, however, very subtle. Two left fingers, index & middle, would twitch a bit and would last for maybe about 10 seconds, and then not reappear for weeks. In mid-Oct, my jaw started to twitch slightly with these two left fingers. After speaking with my psychiatrist, we decided to wean off a medication I was on for a few yrs in case it was a side effect. Which I figured was most likely the case. My bloodwork was normal. Had a full body bone scan as well – also normal. Then in Nov, I had a full-on partial seizure. The left side of my face twitched uncontrollably for about a minute. I also had what I found out later to be called Todd’s Paralysis, where transient numbness traveled through the area that twitched. It lasted about a few hours afterwards. My speech was mildly affected as well. I had trouble saying certain words. It was at this time I made an appt to see a neurologist.
Fast forward 2 weeks, another partial seizure hit. This time I was in the shower and it lasted longer than a minute. I immediately called my husband to come home from work and bring me to the ER. That’s when I found out I had a 3 cm lesion on the right frontal lobe of my brain.
I was alone in the hospital when the ER doctor came to deliver the news. Due to COVID, my husband stayed home with our son. It’s hard to explain what it is like to hear the words “scan showed a lesion on your brain”, after battling breast cancer for over a yr. It’s a nightmare really, one that you wish you could scream and wake yourself up from, but know it is all playing out in real time. This is YOUR life. This is YOUR brain. Devastating.
Both neurosurgeons (from 2 different hospitals), were convinced this lesion was breast cancer metastasis, which is bad news, especially since I had triple negative breast cancer (which is aggressive and more challenging to treat). I wish, however, they would’ve kept their opinions to themselves, though I understand why theoretically they would believe it to be the case. The only person that was not convinced was my Oncologist. She said, “I don’t know what this is. You had a complete pathological response to chemo, but even if it is tnbc, we’ll figure this out.”. So important to love your oncologist. It is a life-long relationship!
As we waited for the pathology report, I was in a really dark place. I pretty much convinced myself this is metastasis. I tried to mentally gear up for what would be a super challenging road ahead, but having to recover from a craniotomy and being doped up on all sorts of other meds, it was hard to sort through my thoughts.
It was also difficult to focus on my almost 5 yr old son. He has a lot of energy (like most 5 yr old boys). I was emotionally and physically drained. I was also having very depressed thoughts – not being able to see him grow up, missed life achievements like graduations or marriage. In hindsight, next to being in treatment with IV chemo, these were some of my toughest and darkest days to date.
Strange to think one can actually get two different types of cancers, one totally unrelated to the other. My brain tumor is rare. Luckily, due to its overall lower grade, has a decent prognosis. But I would be lying to say I am out of the woods. I do acknowledge however, that luck seems to be more on my side then originally thought. I have a chance to beat this for good. I have a chance to live many many more years. I can dig deep and fight again like I did 4 years ago, but it is still no doubt scary. I will have to be watched/monitored very closely. There are now two different types of cancers that can reoccur in my body.
Time is an odd concept. I feel an immensely deep connection with Stage IV Thrivers. They are true warriors, true heros. No one knows what it is like to be in their shoes until they are and it is not for the faint of heart. Your body goes to war everyday. No choice. I am blessed to know them, to be a part of their lives and walk among such brave, beautiful women.
Treatment will start soon. Next chapter is coming. It’s one I obviously did not expect to write, but this time with the Breasties by my side. 💪🏻 💜 Let’s go!