The planets aligned -- my white blood cell count was up -- and I was able to receive chemo last week. Three down, and one to go. If my white count hasn't tanked again, I will be able to undergo chemo this week, which will be followed next week with a CT scan to determine its effectiveness.
After 12 treatments, and before my recent four week chemo break, my liver tumors had decreased by 75 percent. Dr. Glaspy and I are hoping the scan will confirm that chemo has blasted out the remaining 25 percent. This does not mean the cancer is gone -- fighting metastatic cancer means I will forever be playing whack-a-mole -- but it will offer me a break from weekly chemo. How long of a break? One never knows, but it could be a six month break from chemotherapy, which I want very badly. A real break!
Last week after my treatment, my sister Lucy returned home to her family and job. When she left, I felt utter despair. I couldn't stop crying. You never know when the black cloud of sadness is going to cover you, but it is certainly forever lurking in the shadows. The sadness was overwhelming.
Was I sad because my sister left? Was I sad because I was alone again? Was I sad because I have cancer? Yes, to all of the above.
After three days of profound despondence and sleeping round-the-clock, I had an epiphany. When depression enveloped me this time, it was because I had to face the fact that I am truly alone. My loved ones can walk away and resume normal life, but nothing changes for me. I remain shackled to this disease -- a disease which can turn on a dime as it has for many. Diversion is the only way a person living with stage 4 cancer can survive.
My life is a series of short diversions which allow me to experience life outside of my reality. A reality that is incredibly sad and filled with uncertainty. Will I see my kids graduate from college? Will I be there when they are married? Will I ever know the joy of being a grandmother?
Don't placate me by saying that no one knows these things, that anyone can be hit by a car. That is so lame! I believe statistics will bear out that my chances of dying in a few years are far greater than your chances of being killed in a random automobile accident. It is what it is. And it is my cross to bear. Is it karma, bad genes, bad luck, or fate? In the next world, I believe I will know those answers. Until then, bring on the diversions!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.