Thursday, May 3, 2012

Excited for chemo?

  My last chemo treatment is tomorrow, and I am excited and eager, like it's a birthday party or something!  Yes, I will still be hooked up to an IV drip of poison for three hours...and it will make me feel crappy for a few days...and it will make my feet a bit more numb, and my taste-buds funny...but for the last time!  During my fifth treatment three weeks ago, I saw my first "last timer."  It was emotional to see the nurse give her a special bottle of sparkling cider...then all eyes and smiles followed her to the big brass bell on the wall.  She beamed as she tugged on the rope a few times, and the solid ringing symbolized her victory.  Most of us teared up with happiness for her.  She is a survivor!
  This really isn't the last of the battle, just one segment.  Diagnosis is a big hit to deal with, so I consider that the first challenge.  For me, the next hurdle was the surgery, and for that, my trust is in the doctors to get everything out, and for my body to heal.  I was lucky to not have big scars or too much recovery pain, and I felt better quickly.  Chemo has been the longest, toughest part of this ordeal, and the end is in sight!
  I started chemo more than four months ago, and I will be feeling the effects for another month or more.  My amazing husband reminds me that when I tell people I feel "great," I am deceiving them, because I really feel some effects all of the time.  Great to me on chemo is about 90% of the normal Mary.  (Not that this Mary is ever really normal!)  There is numbness in my feet and toes that doesn't affect how I do my job, so I wiggle my toes a lot and deal with it.  There is vision change, that could affect my job, but it is fleeting and adjusts back quickly.  The taste-bud thing is just irritating, and this last round it lingered longer and still is a bit odd.  Other body aches and head fog I can ignore, but it does start to be a pain in the butt to always be hurting a little bit.
  I've only had a couple of pity parties, that thankfully took less than an hour to get out of my system.  If you find me shaking my head in disgust, it's that little nagging voice inside, saying, "Is it over yet?"  That's why I'm excited!  That voice will be gone soon, and my body will start recovering.  My hair will slowly grow back, and I might start to feel like normal Mary some day.
  As I start getting the residual effects of chemo out of my body, I will begin radiation treatments.  That is yet another segment of this battle against cancer.  Chemo kills any roaming cells that might have gotten loose in my body, and radiation will zap any tiny clusters that might have stuck around near the tumor site.  It's something that has to be done.
  These battles haven't changed me, and they have changed me.  So far, I think I'm still the happy, caring, stubborn, smart-aleck of a mom, wife, sister, daughter, friend, and co-worker I've always been...but I'm also stronger, wiser, and more appreciative of everything around me.  I am a survivor too, and will strive to keep that label for a long time!


  1. So glad to see an update on you! You are a true fighter and I'm so happy that you are on your last round of chemo! You can do it and hope you take pictures and celebrate big time when you get to ring that bell! Cheers to you! My mom, son and I are signed up for the Walk for the Cure on Saturday, May honor of you and our friend Jill. We will walk with great pride for you! Keep your great spirit about you and you'll get through this. We love you!

  2. Good for you, Mary. You continue to be in our prayers. <3

  3. Mary, I'm so happy for you - ring that bell long and loud! I've followed your journey and hoped and prayed that this would all end happily for you and your family.

    I lost my mom to cancer 2 and a half years ago. She didn't get to finish her chemo series (her second in three years). If you could, please think of her and others who didn't get to ring the bell and give the rope an extra tug for them.

    Be well,
    Mamie in St. George

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  5. My last treatment is in 2 weeks and I "feel" what you're saying. I know that the battle isn't over completely, but the feeling of saying, "Yes, that is 6 treatments done" is a nice one.
    I pray for your continued recovery. Please know of the good you've done in sharing your journey. We "the sisters of cancer" have greatly benefited from it. Thanks again and much love to you and your fammily.

  6. So happy for you Mary. I know what you 'feel'.
    If you have internet access while you're in treatment - hop on over to for some prizes. We're celebrating the Star Wars May 4th holiday (May the Fourth Be With You!) since this is when I taught my kids what chemo would do to me using Star Wars as an analogy. I'll have to tell you about it next time we chat.

    Congrats on being 1/2 way! Ginger ;)

  7. As always, thanks for sharing your story! Congrats on the last round of chemo. What a relief! Now onto radiation! May the fource be with you! But today Mary....ring that bell loud and strong! God bless you!

  8. Mary you are awesome! Sharing your journey has help so many that will never meet you in person but that doesn't matter because your humor,honesty and wit give us all joy and hope. My sister Amy just finished her second round, PET Scan is clear and she will follow up every other month to check for any relapse. Your journey has helped her deal with all that comes with the disease and treatment. We as a family are in your debt for your sharing and caring enough to publish a very personal crisis. Fight Like A Girl and Ring That Bell! Much love and hugs jack and Cheryl

  9. This is so awesome it made me cry! you are such a inspiration to everyone! a fighter and a survivor! This gives women and people everywhere that are fighting cancer hope! Cancer will touch everyone of us sometime in life! Way to go! Way to Fight!

  10. Hi Mary,

    I check in to Ch 2 to see how you are doing, due to cancer I medically retired in January of this year so I kinda do not watch as much TV. I have always enjoyed watching Two News in the morning - I am always cheered up.
    I am glad that they will ring that bell for you, I kinda skipped out before they could. Please watch the numbness in your feet and hands, I am three years out and my feet and a couple of fingers are still numb.
    I liked you comment about when you are asked how you are doing, of course we all "feel great", when in reality we struggle each day to deal with the side effects of the poison that we have put into our bodies.
    I try each day to do things that I enjoy, I was reading the Book "The Walk" (Richard Paul Evans) and a question was asked, I would like to share this at this time.

    "Do you know why men (women) climb Mountains?"

    "Because the valley is for cemeteries. Sometimes when tragedy strikes , people give up hope that they can expect anything more from life, when the real quest is finding out what life expects from them." As it days in the hope, does this make sense.

    On June 12th, 2012, I will celebrate 11 years as a surviour from my first Diagnosis and May 14th, three years from my second Dx, I am not cancer free, but that is life for me today and I do what I can to enjoy each day, I hope that you can find joy through all of this to enjoy something of each day.

    Good Luck..

  11. Mary,
    I am so glad you have finished your chemo,I remember how I felt after my last treatment. Don't worry to much about the foggy head,it's just the chemo brain effect. It comes in handy so times if you forget something just tell people its chemo brain. Just hang in there in does get better and remember we are all praying for you.


  12. Mary,
    I'm embarrassed to say that I just recently found out about your battle to fight breast cancer. I was at the Susan G. Koman Race for the Cure, saw you stand & speak before those other beautiful women at the Survivor's March, & even took a picture of you with my friend, a fellow survivor, Cindy Contos, & you think it would have rang a bell, but no. I was still clueless. When Cindy finally pointed it out to me, it just absolutely FLOORED me. Oh. Wow. Mary, from what I have read about your journey so far (this blog and your posts on Facebook), I am humbled by what you have had to go through so far. You truly are an inspiration to many, many people! Thank you for sharing your journey. Your experiences will be an example to so many of integrity and strength. I am sorry that you're going through and my prayers are with you that you will fight the good fight and beat this nasty disease. But, in the same breath, I am also grateful that, if anyone was given this challenge, in order to grab public's attention and help amplify the fight for the cure, that it was someone who has a positive effect on the media. May you fight the good fight and win your battle against the big C! God bless you, Mary! Tina Saulnier

  13. This is a very emotional post, thank you for sharing your personal experience on breast cancer diagnosis. Glad to come across this inspirational post.