Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Best Medicine

I've been meaning to update you guys, I really have. But my boys and I have made some pretty monumental shifts since finding out I'd have to go back on chemo three weeks ago. There have been meetings with my company's HR representatives, hours on the phone with insurance and student loan companies, conversations with my bosses about next steps... But I'm getting ahead of myself. More on this point in a minute.

To take a break from it all, and because I'd had this trip planned since Chris got back from Africa in February, I spent last weekend in NYC visiting some of my best friends. They let me lick my wounds a little bit, but mostly reminded me (again) how much good I have in my life. This was no pity party. We talked about summer plans. We ate sushi at a corner Japanese place in the Village. We barbecued in Brooklyn and played made-up games way past my bedtime.

We had brunch at a little spot in the Upper West Side, and watched their little ones run around on the lawn in Central Park on a day when it felt like everyone in the city was outdoors.

We took goofy pictures...

And here's one of the seventeen million reasons New York is so great: I saw a woman with pink hair towering twelve inches over her head and a man with a mohawk who was dressed in chainmail. In the middle of the day. Nobody gave my little pixie a second glance. In a city where anything goes, I was finally able to feel carefree instead of self-conscious.

And there is nothing quite like New York City to remind you to dream big. The air there is buzzing with possibilities and resilience and hope. It was exactly what I needed.

I had my first dose of this new chemo two weeks ago. The good news is, I think I'll get to keep my hair, I don't have to take as many steroids, my blood counts look great, and the nausea was bearable. On the downside, I've had a throbbing headache for almost fourteen days and the fatigue doesn't seem to be any less than it was with previous chemotherapies. On the one hand, I wonder how this medicine is affecting the rest of my body, long-term. It is, after all, poison. On the other, I hope it's giving cancer a swift kick in the ass.

When told Chris a few days after treatment that I felt like crap, he said, "Well, imagine how the cancer feels."

It didn't help my fatigue that my flight home from New York was cancelled and re-routed through Las Vegas, which required staying overnight in a Hampton Inn where I got approximately 4 minutes of sleep.

What is helping, and what's been keeping me so busy the last couple of weeks, is that I made the decision to step back from my job for a bit, to focus on my health and my family. I could no longer justify taking a million hours off for doctor's visits, scans, infusions, and recovery days, while still holding myself to a full-time standard. It wasn't fair to put that much pressure on myself or dump that much extra work on my team with every round of chemo.

It's been a tough decision for me because in some ways it feels like I'm admitting defeat, like cancer is taking my career away, too. My therapist has suggested reframing it so that it's not about cancer winning, but rather about me re-prioritizing. I'm working on that. I'm also hoping it's a temporary fix, that I'll conquer this beast again and have the energy to return to work someday soon. I'm hoping that with a little less stress, I can finally kick this into long-term remission. Or at least enjoy some extra time with my friends and family--the best medicine, really--while trying.

1 comment:

  1. I have been looking for this entry. I am thrilled to see it. Wow. Nothing like NYC and friends to pump you up on resilience. Jenn, you are my hero. Keep at it and let me know how to help. Want to see you soon!!