Category Archives:Musings

Nov. 11.

Bravery

TrypticFoxhole

I think it is apropos to post about bravery on Veteran’s Day. I didn’t choose the topic because of the day, but it fits perfectly. I chose to talk about bravery today because I want to talk about a specific aspect and tomorrow will be too late. One comment I have heard from several folks is how brave I’m being. I’m not. And I’d like to explain why I don’t feel as if I am being brave.

Bravery for me has certain criteria associated with it. To be brave, one must be fearful of what they are about to attempt, and the fears must be specific, but the brave do what has to be done anyway. Despite their fears. And for me bravery involves moving forward with eyes wide open, knowing what lies ahead—the horrors that await—and yet still move forward.

In this latest life adventure, I don’t know what is up ahead. I know the road is going to be rough, but the specifics of the experience are yet unknown. And no one can tell me specifically because every person is different. Yes, I can gather some general information and I have been doing so with the limited time I’ve had to prepare. But that doesn’t make me brave. Some might argue that it is brave to face the unknown with courage. Maybe, but I’d argue that we face the unknown every day of our lives … facing it is commonplace, and for me bravery takes something higher.

A small bit of fear exists at the moment, when I stop doing and think for a moment or two too long. Fear about how my body will react to the chemical cocktail its being given. But overall, I don’t think about it. I push those thoughts to the side because they don’t benefit me. Thinking about them will not change the outcome one iota, and I have too many things to get done to let the tiny bit of fear leap out and overwhelm—because that’s what it’ll do if you let it. Why doesn’t that fear count as bravery, since I will go through the process anyway? Because it isn’t specific.

This morning when thinking about this my mind went to the Three Billy Goats Gruff and the bridge they had to cross. The first time you cross the bridge, you don’t know about the dangerous troll under the bridge. You simply step onto the bridge and into the unknown. It doesn’t require bravery. When the troll leaps out and tries to eat you, the only thing you’re thinking about is how do I make it over the bridge alive?? And you somehow do. Aahhhh, but the next time you reach the bridge and need to cross it, you will have to be brave. Why? You know about the troll—it is no longer an unknown factor. You know the danger exists and specifically that someone wants to make you dinner. You have a real, specific fear, and yet you cross the bridge anyway—bravery.

I used the pictures of the soldiers in the foxholes because they exemplify bravery to me. The men and women at the front of battle, going into battle, not just with the fear that something bad might happen, but specific fears from having been battle-tested, and yet serving their country and all of us because it is their duty. My Grandpa was a tail gunner in WWII, and one of the bravest people I have known. Not because he was without fear. He was probably afraid to climb into that plane the first time, but he didn’t know what would happen when flying a real mission vs. a training mission. But he showed his bravery every time he climbed BACK into the plane—knowing bullets would be flying at him, knowing he was likely to lose one or more of his crew. He did it for the pride of serving his nation.

So today, while facing chemotherapy, I am not brave. I will show my bravery the day after tomorrow, when I must go back.

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Nov. 10.

And so it begins…

I found out this past Thursday (11/7/13) that I will need to have chemotherapy and my first treatment cycle begins Tuesday (11/12/13), which doesn’t give me a lot of time to prepare. And that may be a good thing. Less time for my mind to dream up all the possibilities. It forces me to focus.

If you are finding out about my diagnosis from reading this post, my apologies. I tried to contact as many people as I could, but there has been a lot going on and it has been a very short time since I found out I had cancer. I wanted to get this site created so that I have a place to post what is going on with me, because I may not be able to keep you all individually updated—as much as I would want to. How things will go with the chemotherapy is the great unknown for me at the moment, so I also needed a place for you to leave comments for me that I may not be able to accept were you to try to contact me directly. Click the Chats button and leave me a message. And of course, feel free to comment below. I will read them, I just can’t promise when.

A brief synopsis of the past couple months for those who are not aware …. I had not been feeling well and had been to the doctor who drew some blood to confirm his diagnosis. It did, but it also indicated that I was in the very early stages of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL), which is a slow progression non-aggressive cancer … or can be. He contacted the hematologist/oncologist and confirmed the list of tests she would need before seeing me, and the journey started. By the time I saw the oncologist, the CLL diagnosis was 99% confirmed, but the oncologist wanted to run one additional test. The results of the blood flow cytometry confirmed the diagnosis, but also showed that CLL had not invaded alone—it had brought small cell non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (SLL) with it. However, I did not have any of the anticipated glandular swelling, so more tests were ordered. I will gloss through those tests at the moment, but suffice it to say that because I had an allergic reaction to the test material, it was a rough week. And finally, the doctor performed a bone marrow biopsy.

The upshot of the situation is that when we finally had all the results from all the tests the CLL/SLL diagnosis was confirmed along with some additional bad guys who have to go. Those of you who know me well know I’m candid about things; however, in this case, for my benefit, I am not going to share what those bad guys are. The doctor specifically requested I not look up the test results on the internet and I don’t need anyone else looking them up and telling me what they are either. I’m sure what she is anxious to avoid is me freaking out over what those findings will be. Though I don’t freak out easily over things like this, it is also NOT helpful at this stage of the game for anyone to mention a predefined life expectancy to me. First of all, it is wrong. The internet has no idea how long I personally will live… the proverbial bus could hit me tomorrow, or I could live to be the cranky old lady down the street. And let me tell you, I plan on being the crankiest old lady you can find. 🙂

Well, that wasn’t so brief… but let me get to the nitty gritty. My treatment plan will be one treatment cycle every four weeks for six cycles. Each treatment cycle will be:

  • Day 1 (Tue) — 6 hours (2 chemo drugs)
  • Day 2 (Wed) — 3 hours (1 chemo drug)
  • Day 3 (Thu) — 3 hours for hydration and white cell boosting.

Just the thought of having to sit in the doctor’s office for 6 hours on the first day makes me tired. My hope for this blog is to keep everyone up to date as frequently as I can. Please don’t freak out if I don’t post daily… I’m simply not that good at daily posting, it doesn’t mean I’m knocking on death’s door. I will be trying to work throughout the chemo, so my reserves may be used up by the end of the work day. Most posts will probably be shorter than this one (can I hear a hallelujah). And once I get my treatment schedule, I’ll post it and make sure it’s visible somewhere on this site, so you will know when I’ve had the treatments. My aim is to share my experiences with you, good, bad, horrid, and laughable. As long as I can keep my sense of humor (most days anyway), I think I’ll come through this with flying colors.

The post picture: I chose the stream because right now I feel a bit like a droplet of water in a river, being drawn forward by a force I cannot see, going to a place unknown, with rocks and branches as obstacles I must hurdle.

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