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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

NANO, Chemo, and Clinging to Our Dreams

I actually meant to write this post yesterday, but I felt good enough to move around and be active. Today, I don't feel so great, but I'm going to squeeze this sucker out anyway.

I had an acquaintance, once upon a time, who told me the story of her breast cancer. Years ago she had a double mastectomy, chemo, and the rest. Another friend pointed out that this person had let her illness totally derail her writing dream. As far as I know, she's never bounced back either. Other than the breast cancer, this fellow writer and I have little in common. I never see her anymore, but I owe her a great debt that I would like to pay forward to others in my situation or who may someday join me.

As I listened to her story, so long ago, I never dreamed I would receive my own cancer diagnosis several years later. In Dec 2004, I found a lump in my right breast. It reminded me of other 'come-and-go' little lumps that appeared from time to time through my cycle. Instead of disappearing quickly, though, it stayed. It was minorly painful, so I thought maybe it was an infection with inflammation. My doctor prescribed a round of antibiotics that did nothing. The tumor, however, grew *fast*. In mid-to-late-January, my doctor sent me for an ultrasound which led to a biopsy which led to a diagnosis of breast cancer.

The first thought in my mind after the shock wore off was, "I will NOT let this derail my writing career." I'm a slow enough learner as it is. I can't let external issues slow me down even more.

In early March of 2005, the surgeon removed a tumor 11 centimeters in diameter, an almost unheard of size for the time period it had to grow. I went through 8 cycles of dose-dense chemo and a couple of months of radiation. No cancer was detected by any of the post-treatment scans, but I knew my doctor suspected we weren't done with this disease.

I could only hope......and write.

In August 2006, the breast cancer metastasized to a few small spots in my spine and pelvic bone. No chemo or other treatment to do as studies have found it ineffective in this situation. Very small, very slow growing, and utterly incurable. Fortunately 'boney disease' as they call it can be lived with for a long time.

Three years passed, and I've now received a third diagnosis. The breast cancer is in the liver. I remember my doctor saying "...not *if* but *when* it spreads to the liver..." I surely hoped I would have more time, but we play the hand we're dealt. With the grace of God we win, sometimes in very surprising ways.

I have a dual purpose now - send this cancer screaming out of my liver in terror and write like my hair's on fire and my ass is catching. My first chemo treatment is done and accelerating downhill toward mid-cycle where I will then struggle back up to enough strength to take the next one.

I invite you to take this journey with me (the writing part anyway :-)), but I accept no wimps, no excuses. As my good friend Heather said recently, "If @donnellepperson (who encouraged me to Nano) can do chemo-again-I think I can finish a draft during November w/o whining." Heather, you inspire me.

The rest of you: Comment here and let me know how your writing is going whether you're doing Nano or not. Let's inspire each other. Let's get that rough draft done despite the odds against us.

Talk to you soon!
~pinkie

3 flies caught in my web:

Destany said...

I signed up for NaNoWriMo. Excited to write until my fingers are nubbins. lol Can't wait. :-D

Logan's down for a nap, so I'd better get to work on my prewriting preparations...

Di

Heather Dearly said...

Pushaw! You're the inspiration, babe!

Anonymous said...

I admire and agree with what you're saying so much, Pinkie. So true! Do not stop your dream, whether it's writing or whatever. That is part of who we are. - S