I'm back...a little worse for the wear, but I've got that fighting Irish blood, and I will claw my way back to the top as long as there is one ounce of energy inside me.
I believe laughing is keeping at least my spirit alive. Over the course of this last 10 day siege, there was little to laugh about. My goal was to be as medicated as possible so I could sleep. I believed every day that I would be better the next day. I amaze myself by my naïveté. The open, angry sores in my mouth covered every inch of my cheeks, tongue, lips and gums. I was taken off the chemo because the side effects were too intense.
They have now finally subsided, but I still have a nickel size gouge out of the inside of my cheek that will take months to regenerate. I could not speak, I could not eat, I could not drink.
I spent eight hours a day; four days in a row in the chemo room at UCLA tied up to bags of saline, steroids, potassium and maybe a few more things. I wanted to die. If I did not have my husband, sister and girlfriends taking shifts, I don't know how I could have done it. My girlfriends were there to get in bed with me and hold me.
So now what? The crazy-good news is that my tumor markers dropped 40 points in one week, which is almost unheard of! I was being eaten alive by the chemo. The bad news? I have to meet my doctor at 8 a.m. tomorrow morning to discuss our next steps. It’s no surprise that the plan is to start up that same chemo again. I am trying to swallow that pill. My doctor feels that he can prep my mouth with a steroid wash to avoid getting the sores. Sorry, not buying that one.
I came to terms last night with the counseling of my dear friend, Fran. She said, "Nor, you have got to suck it up and do it. We now know the worst of what can happen, so we'll have plenty of pain killers ready, and I think we could get a nurse to do an IV at home. Forty points is huge. You were just not prepared last time. They told you there would be zero side effects, and now we know that's not true. We just have to put on our helmets. It's all-out WAR!"
So I am ready. I enter the war zone tomorrow. I will kill the beast.
Noreen Fraser is living with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer. She is co-founder of STAND UP TO CANCER and co-produced the TV show, which raised 100 million dollars for cancer research. Noreen went on to create the Noreen Fraser Foundation to raise money and awareness for women's cancer research. The 'Men for Women Now' program enlists men to ask the women they love to make appointments for their mammogram and pap smear. Noreen can be reached at email@example.com