Tuesday, June 17, 2014

back in the office + beth


today was my regular check-in appointment with my derm. this is what it looks like while i am waiting for him to come in. staring at the floor, while the clock goes tiiiiick toooock. but all was good today, no biopsies, nothing he was worried about. so thankful for that. as i sat on the table waiting to hear the knock on the door and his voice say "hi alli" in the way it has so many times before, i thought about that first time i walked in that very room.

the day i was diagnosed. i was in his office 30 minutes after the nurse called and told me it was cancer. i was told to go directly to his office, he was a derm and would know what needed to happen next. i sat in the right chair, barrett sat in the left chair. the nurse (who has been my nurse every time i have been there since) said "it is good that you caught it". i remember looking at her and thinking i have no concept of what the "it" even is that you are referring to. the doctor coming in, looking at my mole, telling me that he was not going to be able to help me, i would need to be referred to seattle cancer care alliance. he would put the call in that day. i should expect to have an appointment at the beginning of the week. the docs are good at cancer care, you will be in good hands. he would see me after i knew what the next steps would be. i had absolutely no clue what the next steps would be, and that was terrifying. i remember leaving his office in total shock. just like that, within one hour, our lives had just turned upside down. i remember calling my mom. i remember every moment of that afternoon because it is burned in my brain.

my appointments that come close to my diagnosis anniversary always find me a little raw. this time of year is always tough for me. the balance between being here and alive four years after my original diagnosis, the thought that i can keep on kicking cancer in the ass. the balance between being here and alive four years after my original diagnosis, the thought that i am getting closer to the point where they tell me it isn't good news and i don't have any options. i of course don't let those later thoughts creep in too often, but i can't say they aren't there. when you feel like you are living on borrowed time, the reality of it all sometimes leaves you sad, angry, scared, helpless, unsure, and petrified of whether the black beast is lurking just behind you in the shadows. on the worst days, all of those emotions came in swinging at the same time and it feels like you are gasping for air.

when i was keeping beth company the other night, she asked me if i think about cancer everyday. of course i would have liked to tell her no, but i am not going to be anything but honest with her. i do think about it everyday, some days more, some days less. but i always think of it the moment i walk into the bathroom in the morning, look in the mirror, and see the scar on my collarbone that always shows itself just above my pjs. the first reminder of the day that i will carry that one and so many more scars without me throughout the day, many the eyes can see, many they cannot.

wednesday is surgery day for beth. we got to see her last night at a dinner party that her parents threw for her close friends in the seattle area, it was a really nice evening. i wish that i could have been there with her for any other reason than cancer. please send your love, mojo, and prayers to beth tomorrow as she goes through surgery, and then on through the stages of recovery. i got her permission to share her latest update, as i thought it would be good for you to hear how she is doing in her own words on this evening before surgery. as you know, i think that the stories we live and share are important, and hers deserves to continue to be heard.

"I am sitting here in one of my superman t-shirts trying to get some strength for what is to come. My check in time is 6:15 AM tomorrow. uggh. Surgery will probably be around 8:30 like my surgeon told me at our appointment, but won't know for sure until I get there. Lot of surgery prep, put in the epiderul, go through the checklist, take my vitals, etc. It can take awhile. I figured I would be the first surgery, since it will be quite long. Probably 5-6 hours.
I am not looking forward to it. I don't think anything will go wrong with the surgery, but I am not looking forward to the recovery. I will be in a lot of pain. I won't be able to sit for a month. I will also have 5-6 incisions in my abdomen, so those always hurt and take awhile to be able to bend and move without pain, and the worst part will be what the plastic surgeon does. He is moving a muscle from the inside of my leg to the tumor area to bring healthy tissue to that area. So that will be really painful, and I won't be able to lift my leg for a few weeks because of that. So no stairs, can't step into my shower, will have to be careful about sleeping. I was thinking about that last night. I am finally able to sleep in 5+ hour stretches because I can move around again when I sleep. And I am going to go back to sleeping in short stretches probably for the next month or so.

Last night my parents threw a party to thank some of my "team" for all they have done for me so far - from visiting, to being my radiation buddies for those first couple weeks, to staying with me while they were gone, or taking me out, bringing me Gatorade, and the list goes on. There were more people who should have been there who have been helping - people at work, and people who aren't in state and others. But we tried to capture what we could. And that was so kind that they wanted to do that.

It was nice to be in a room of my friends and my parents. People who have been there for me and want to be there for me through this year and beyond. I tried to give a speech to thank them. I of course cried and didn't say nearly all I wanted to. But I hope everyone realizes how thankful I am for the support and how thankful I am to have them in my lives. I don't know if words can really convey that feeling. And that goes to all of you reading this. I know you all can't see me regularly, but you have conveyed you are cheering for me wherever you are.

And I had a lot of fun and I could still eat! Which is great. Today of course is clear liquids for surgery prep. But I got that night, that night to be in a room full of wonderful people. After I wasn't quite ready to go home, it was my last night like that for awhile, where I could do whatever I want and feel good. So Ken and I went to grab a drink and we sat outside at this restaurant by a fire pit on the edge of Lake Union. And it was a nice evening. And I got a little sad. Because this summer I don't get a lot of these nights. I don't get to make plans for the 4th of July, or go out on a friends' boat or to a BBQ, or do whatever I want. And that makes me sad. I have so enjoyed getting back to my "regular" life, working, doing things, spending time with friends, making lots of plans. So I am grieving letting that go right now. Before I was so sick so the last surgery just felt like an extension of everything else. But this time I am having to give up the life I want again for a bit. And then comes 4 months of chemo and I will likely feel sick from that, nauseated, tired, and have weird association with food/smells. It may be different, but those side effects are likely.

I have heard from many people that you give up a year of your life to cancer. And I only want it to be a year. I don't want cancer at all, so I don't even want to give it a year. I don't want this in my life. But it will be a part of my life, forever. But I hope it won't be a part of my life that makes me repeat this year, and I hope it becomes something I don't think about every day.

I bought concert tickets for a show at the end of August. I have no idea how I will be feeling, I will be on chemo by then. But I want to look forward to things, be with people and try to make plans and not let cancer and its side effects control my life. Because I hate that, and yes I mean to say hate. So I need to work on that for the latter part of this year.
My emotions are running high these days. I am grieving having to give up feeling good for awhile again.

I have enjoyed the past few weeks. I have crammed a lot in, coffee and lunch dates, plans in the evening, doing as much as I can and things that I enjoy. I have enjoyed being back at work and throwing myself into things. I did the best I could to get everything in place to be gone again for a few weeks. I am so appreciative of people at work who are picking up things for me while I am gone. I found out they are still holding my bi-weekly staff meetings, that made me happy they were still getting together like that. For World Cup we did a u pick 'em where we draw teams to cheer for. I have Cameroon and Columbia as my teams so I will watch a lot of World Cup over the next few weeks.

As I go into surgery and the next part of treatment, as scared and anxious as I am I want to try and hold on to the good memories, the people and that I will get this part of my life back.
My mom will update the site tomorrow night to let you know how surgery went. And when I can I will get back on.

As always, and never stop, thank you for your love, support and prayers."

have a good wednesday peeps.

send your love to beth.

do something fun on this day simply because you can and the day is yours to make it what you will.

make it something good.

beth and i both would really like that. xo

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