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Staring Down Cancer

Expect the unexpected

Expect the unexpected—such is my life with cancer. My white cell count was too low, below one, so the doctor could not administer my chemotherapy treatment last week.

The issue could have been resolved, had I been willing to take an injection of Neulasta, the devil drug that "squeezes" your bone marrow, thereby releasing into your blood stream additional white blood cells. The description alone indicates the pain which is experienced with this drug.  

I took it once two months ago, and the leg  pain was riveting.   Research confirms that redheads, as I am, are more sensitive to pain, but what I felt was comparable only to childbirth (or perhaps gall or kidney stones, which I have not experienced, but I am told are associated with nightmare-level pain). Only morphine could manage the leg pain I experienced with Neulasta, so I vowed never to take it again.

The result was, I was quarantined to my home for a week.  I could not take the chance of being exposed to even a minor "bug," because my immune system was unable to fight it, and I would surely end up in the hospital where there are more germs than on a dollar bill!

In an hour, I go to UCLA for chemo, again uncertain if my white cell count will be high enough to receive my treatment. Did you know that if you undergo chemotherapy with a white blood cell count below one, you are risking your life?  Chemo truly is toxic!

I have decided that if my white count is again too low, I will bite the bullet and take the Neulasta injection.  I need the chemo.  I hate to do it, but my husband is here to rub my legs and one of my five sisters is flying in to be my nursemaid for 10 days. I love my family.  No one should undergo chemo without the loving help of five sisters.  Thanks, Mom and Dad!

I want to resume my blog for men (www.menforwomennow.org).  When I first launched Men For Women Now, I was too sick to effectively follow through.  From the emails I receive from my Fox blog, I am aware there are many men who want to share their stories as caregivers.  I believe there is comfort and healing in being able to share the journey with others, not only the day to day stresses of care giving, but also advice and tips to make a loved one more comfortable. I would like to hear from you as to whether or not this would be a meaningful exchange of encouragement and information.

Next week, I will share some things that have helped me—some of which you may have not considered or even thought about before. Thanks again to all of you who write to me in response to this blog.  Your kind words are truly healing, and help me to realize I am making a difference.  

Noreen Fraser is living with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer. She is the Founder and CEO of the Noreen Fraser Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to funding groundbreaking women's cancer research. To stay in touch with Noreen, please 'LIKE' The Noreen Fraser Foundation on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.  Noreen can be contacted via email at noreen@noreenfraserfoundation.org.