Accepting mortality. Not something I’ve done easily.
Not many people can say they’ve already died, but we’re given a second chance by being in the right place at the time of their death. I was given that chance.
I’ve beat the odds on several occasions. In 2007, 3 days after my 51st birthday, I suffered a massive heart attack. When it was happening, my husband drove me to the small town hospital. My heart stopped, I was shocked three times, bright back to life, flown to a large hospital, a stent was placed, and I was released from the hospital a few days later.
In 2011, I had some bleeding which was not normal. I had a total hysterectomy. A very small bit of cancer was found, which hadn’t broken through the wall of the uterus. I was not given any treatment, but had five years of follow-up appointments. I was given the all clear after that five years.
In 2021 I had a mammogram which found a tumor. A biopsy revealed it was invasive ductal carcinoma, stage 1 grade 1. A lumpectomy was performed (I was not given the option of a single or double mastectomy, which I would have chosen if given the option). This was followed by 21 sessions of radiation. Now I’m supposed to take five years of medication to reduce the estrogen in my body, despite the fact I have no ovaries.
The side effects of these drugs can be horrible, and from what I’ve been told, the drugs don’t guarantee cancer won’t return. In fact, the oncologist told me straight up, it WILL return, metastasize in the bones. He also said that even after five years of being “cancer free” that with this cancer, we are not declared cancer free, because it in most cases will return.
Many women have taken the meds, and the cancer returns anyway, regardless of whether they take the meds as prescribed or not.
I’ll be the first to admit, I can be stubborn, obstinate, and contrary. I question everything especially now that I’m older. I believe we all have to advocate for ourselves. This is where my struggle comes in. I do not want to take the meds. If I’m going to die sooner rather than later anyway, then I prefer not to suffer the side effects of a med that is only giving me maybe 50% chance of the cancer not returning while I’m taking it. I want to live the next year(s?) of my life as happily as I can. If I get sick, I’ll deal with that then. If I take this med, there’s a big chance I’ll have more than just the normal side effects from it, because I already have joint and muscle pain, depression, mood swings, hot flashes, chills, sleepless nights, and many other issues. I’m bone-on-bone in both knees, but I’m not going to waste time or money on knee replacements when cancer or heart disease or hardening of the arteries is going to take me out soon anyway.
I’ve drastically changed my diet. I’m eating plant based food, mostly clean eating, though not organic. Can’t afford food now as it is, and organic is outrageous. $8.00 for a small package of fresh strawberries! I’ve cut out sugar and most flour (I eat 1 slice of whole grain six seed fresh baked bread a day), I eat mostly non processed food, and I am avoiding soy. I’m losing weight, and I’m hoping my blood test next week comes back with great numbers.
Something that has really bothered me though, is seeing a video of a young couple we follow on YT where she is not even 30 yet, eats vegan, does yoga, is thin and fit, lives clean, and she’s been diagnosed with stage three cancer. I feel totally horrible for her. She hasn’t had the chance to have kids yet so she’s going through IVF to save her eggs before chemo. She’ll need at least one more surgery. I could totally relate to her though in the respect that they had all these travel plans for this year, because they haven’t been able to travel in their van for 2 years because of this stupid pandemic. We are supposed to travel too. What impressed me is that she’s being treated by a very good cancer center in Canada, and trusts her team. That’s different for me. I am not happy with my team. I so very much wish I had sought out a bigger cancer center and second opinion before my surgery.
My mantra lately has been, “I’m damned if I do, damned if I don’t.” I know how negative that sounds, though it’s not - it’s just reality, truth. If I take the meds, I’ll more than likely be physically and mentally a mess, and I could suffer from a heart attack or stroke, or brittle bones in five years. I could also have a return of the cancer, either in a breast or elsewhere. If I don’t take the meds, my heart could be safer, but I will most likely get the cancer back, most likely metastasized. I’ll have to decide what to do when/if that happens.
Mortality and decisions…..