To say I was blindsided this week is putting it lightly. My oncologist called with PET scan results on Tuesday; it lit up in a couple of areas in my chest wall again, and in my spleen. I don't know whether this is technically a recurrence or just the last little bit of disease left over from my first round last fall. In the end, it doesn't really matter. It's back.
Assuming insurance approves it, I'll start on a new drug, Pertuzumab, along with Herceptin and Taxotere, a targeted treatment that will hopefully wipe out the last of this shit. It means chemo and all it entails until they come up with something better. It means losing my hair again (really, it's the eyeybrows and eyelashes I miss the most). It means mustering up the strength hidden in my pinky toes to keep fighting for as long as it takes, until they come up with something less toxic. My doctor has said to treat this like diabetes or any other chronic illness - maybe not curable, but manageable and treatable. Still, with no end in sight, no "finish line" to cross, wrapping my head around this new course of treatment is throwing me for a loop.
So I'm setting my sights on events instead. I will walk Quinn into kindergarten, holding that chubby little hand in mine (ah, who am I kidding? He'll be sprinting ahead, eager for a new adventure, but I'll be there to look on proudly). I will be there to hear his valedictorian speech when he graduates from high school. (What? I might as well dream big, and seventeen years from now is pretty big dreaming). In my mind, I am also there when he marries the love of his life, clinking my champagne glass with Chris' over what a great job we did raising such a strong young man.
Chris and I met in the spring of 2005. He was working on his dissertation, up late writing most nights and not sure he'd even stay in D.C. long enough for a relationship to make sense. I was considering law school in California. That summer, Chris went to Africa for a couple of months (but he called me from the satellite phone, so I knew he liked me). In August, I went deep-sea fishing in Alaska for work, and Chris was there to pick me up at the airport when I got back. Chris had gotten word from the Smithsonian that they could extend his funding and keep him in D.C. another couple of years, so I decided to stay put and enroll at American University. At some point late that summer I turned to Chris and said: "So, are we going to do this?"
That was just over seven years ago, which is not all that long in the grand scheme of things. But the two of us, we are a force. Add in the little Bug and you've got yourself a formidable army here. We work, this family of ours. And so my boys and I are gearing up, putting on our armor and heading into battle again. We may not look like much, given my battle scars and Quinn's pint-sizedness and Chris' graying at the temples. But watch out, cancer - we are stronger than you think and now we're pissed off, to boot. We are coming for you, about to blast you out of every corner where you're lurking. Because here's the thing. With us, the answer has always been, "Yes, we are going to do this."