Since I last wrote, things got tipped a bit upside down. Although the Huntsman Cancer Institute was amazing, we got a call from them a couple days after my visit to inform me that my out-of-pocket cost would be astronomical because they weren't part of my insurance network. Friends and family started donating funds almost immediately, but I just felt confused and unsure what to do next. That same week, we also met with a reproductive endocrinologist to discuss my chances of infertility post-treatment, and I was unexpectedly faced with two extremely difficult decisions that never would have crossed my mind: is it worth the money to receive the right treatment? And did I want to risk never having children? My first wave of optimism started to dwindle a bit, and everything began feeling terrifying and wrong and generally like everyone was talking about someone else that I'd never met.
Waiting, though, was terrible. My type of cancer, HER2 positive, just so happens to be the kind that grows like a wild thing and has a hankering to spread everywhere. Every time I had a slight pain in my leg or back or stomach, I'd panic and wonder if that meant the cancer had spread. Being a tense person, headaches aren't an unusual thing for me, but suddenly even the smallest twinge in my temples had me thinking of the horrors of brain cancer and Gamma Knife therapy. (Yeah...I've done a lot of reading and research...) I remember telling Roby one night that I felt like by waiting and undergoing the long-ish process to save embryos, I would be choosing between the possibility of metastasis with its lifelong problems and not having children. No one should have to choose between death and creation. And while I recognize that that's being a bit dramatic, I felt pretty awful.
We had found a doctor that we really loved who wouldn't cost a fortune, but she hadn't prescribed the chemotherapy that we felt good about. We visited with her again last Wednesday in hopes she'd change her mind, and the first thing she said when she walked in to see us is that she had reconsidered. After researching the new treatment I wanted (it's only been available for about a year), she felt it would be both good and right for me. She also confirmed that my chances of infertility were not as high as we were originally told, and she felt that owing to my younger age, we would be fine as long as we were careful. I immediately felt like there was nothing left to do but schedule my first chemotherapy for a week later--that day being today.
So here we are--D-day, as it were. Part of me is relieved to finally get on the path to recovery, because even though a scan last Friday confirmed that there isn't a wild cancer-spreading party going on inside of me, the tumor is still a nasty little beast that is starting to cause increasing pain and discomfort in its localized area. But the other part of me is very frightened. I still have so many questions and unknowns: will I feel nauseated? What's it like to be too tired to walk up a flight of stairs? Will it get that bad? How will I feel when I have to look at myself in the mirror? Is it bad to want to avoid seeing myself without hair? I can't be brave all the time--there is still a little girl inside of me who has never before been sick with more than a cold or stomach flu, never been hospitalized, never even broken a bone or had stitches (until two weeks ago when they put in my chemo port). And now, here I am, scheduling the days when I'll feel horribly sick and lose the hair that has been a significant part of my life and identity for 29 years. There have been many times when I've lain my head on Roby's chest and
I know that this is a challenge that God wants me to take on with faith. I also still know that He is in charge and is guiding all of our steps and even missteps. Of course, that doesn't mean that things will always be sunny and cheerful and awesome. It just means that we are embarking on an incredible journey that will teach us many crucial life lessons. Friends, I'd like to invite you all to come along on this journey with me and Roby. I can't promise to post everything, and I don't know how often I'll feel up to posting. But I do know that having your support along the way will make everything feel better.