I disappeared last week. I’m not certain if I had “gone fishing” or “gone missing.”
Until last week, I had been super positive about my cancer treatments. Not because of the treatments themselves – which were awful – but I truly believed I was beating this demon. After seeing a 75 percent drop in the size of the tumor in my liver, my doctor and I were hoping I could take a break from chemo for a while. I had four remaining treatments, which we expected would take care of the remaining 25 percent of the tumor – but it wasn’t to be. During those last treatments, Abraxane decided to stop working. In those four weeks, the tumor in my liver grew back to its original size.
That was a blow. No chemo break, and I immediately started a new treatment. That’s a hard pill to swallow. I fell into the depths of depression. I had been so strong, so full of hope, but this news sucked all the wind out of my sails. How long can my liver continue to process this poison before it throws in the towel?
My beautiful daughter Madeline went with me to my first new chemo treatment. She has been so attentive this summer, but she worries because she is leaving next week to travel out of the country for a college semester abroad. When she was in 10th grade, I remember finding Madeline crying behind a closed door. I asked what was wrong. After beating around the bush, she finally sobbed, “You don’t know what it’s like being the only kid in school whose mother can die at any time. No one has to deal with that other than me. I hate my life.” It was heart-wrenching.
It is so scary to have my tumor grow back in four weeks. I am trying now to build up my reserves, to revive my sense of hope. No one promised life would be easy, but no one is prepared for the horror of living with a chronic disease.
My dad and I took a road trip last week, visiting the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Park. Nature is a healer and I am a “tree-hugger” from way back. My belief is that breathing in the strength from those centuries-old trees will renew my resolve.
I hope everyone celebrated a wonderful Fourth of July with family and friends you love!
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.