This morning I woke to my big bucket of ice water, not in honor of ALS, but when I heard the news that a great friend of mine, Peter, passed away from metastatic breast cancer. I met Peter back in 2010, shortly after I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer myself. Peter and I met in Washington DC at a NBCC lobby day where we went to Capitol Hill acquiring signatures of support for a new Breast Cancer Bill. Peter was such a great man, full of laughter and smiles. It was funny that we met in DC, seeing as we only lived a few towns apart in the Northshore of Massachusetts. Peter and I also shared the same type of breast cancer, HER2+. This has made it even harder for me to process loosing him.
We all knew that Peter was not doing well for the past six months or so. Unfortunately after 6.5 years he had exhausted all his treatment options. By treatment options I mean eastern and western treatment options. Peter definitely put up a good fight and never let this illness take away his smile and heart. It is thought that Peter’s cancer was due to contaminated water on a Marine base in North Carolina that he was stationed on for many years. Peter was one of 73 men stationed at this base who later developed male breast cancer, you can read more about Camp Lejeune here. There was also a documentary made about Camp Lejeune that you can watch on Netflix.
I know a lot of you that read my blog might be thinking ‘Why do you keep getting so attached to others that have metastatic breast cancer when you know that they will eventually pass away?’ To that I have no intelligent answer. All I can say is that surrounding myself with such courageous fighters as Peter is what has gotten me this far. On my bad days when I have trouble sleeping, eating, feeling my feet or finger tips, or find myself in crippling pain that’s when I look up to people like Peter people who have been at this game longer than me. Yes it gets scarier each day as my army of seasoned metastatic survivors dwindles, yet I know that in turn I am a seasoned metastatic survivor to many as well and my journey has brought hope to so many.
I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t have my bouts of depression wondering what the whole point to this all is. Why bother pumping myself full of chemicals each week just to live a couple more months or years filled with side effects when there is no true cure in sight. Why do I bother running a volunteer non-profit for metastatic breast cancer when there are so many big named non-profit’s out there that are raising funds for prevention and have million dollar marketing budgets? I do it because there is still that hint of hope in me. That feeling that even though I so much want to just curl up in my bed and cry each day, but I can’t. I have to keep going. I have to stay strong for my son. I have to stay strong for all of those other survivors out there that are in the same boat as me. Granted I am in my pj’s blubbering like a little school girl as I write this post, but I never claimed to not be a cry baby.
I have been really down in the dumps these past couple months. I have been feeling aweful, was hospitalized again for what I thought was another onset of pancreatitis, yet ended up being due to the walls of my gallbladder thickening. I am down almost 50 pounds since May and am only able to eat once a day. My neuropathy has been increasing and has spread from numbness in my finger tips and feet, to all the way up to my knees and arms. This new chemo is really taking it’s toll on me and has made it very hard to enjoy my quality of life lately.
Since I was hospitalized back in May for almost 3 weeks for pancreatitis and sepsis, I decided to sell my home and move back with my parents. Yes at thirty years of age I will be moving back in with my parents, if I can get my house to sell of course. It was hard enough to admit defeat and know that I could not handle going back to work fulltime and that I would have to go on to disability. But now, out of fear, I have to plan to move back home with my parents. I have to move home so that I know that my son will be ok as my health continues to decline. I have to stop thinking about all this depressing crap so I can put a smile on my face in time to pick up my thirteen-year-old son from school in a couple hours.
Yep… so that’s what’s been going on. I have chemo again on Friday, scans next week, along with a brain MRI to hopefully get to the bottom of my chronic migraines. I am on this low-fat bland diet that pretty much consists of soups to avoid the crazy upper abdominal pain. I am also trying desperately to keep my house immaculate for showings in hopes that my home will sell in this terrible market. Blarrgh!
I don’t usually write such morbid posts, for that I apologize. It has been a tough summer for me. It will get better soon enough, at least I hope it will. I have not given up just yet.