This morning, I had a PET scan. You know the drill. A radioactive-sugar combo is injected into my vein, then I clear my mind and lie still- with my arms extended over my head
for 45 minutes- while this substance travels throughout my body. Then, for 22 minutes, my body is scanned to show where the sugar has been distributed, revealing cells that are more active.
This afternoon, Dr. Laudi called me after reviewing the scans. He said the scans showed active areas in my spine. I haven't seen the scans myself yet, so I don't know if these areas correspond to areas where I have back pain or even how much of my spine is involved.
This means I am no longer in remission. For today anyway. Remember, Stage IV Breast Cancer is treated like a chronic disease. When a particular treatment stops working, then I move to another treatment. Dr. Laudi took me off Tamoxifen and has ordered Xeloda, which is a chemotherapy pill. I will take 3 pills twice a day for 2 weeks, then have 1 week off. The side effects include the usual GI stuff, like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and mouth sores. There can be fatigue, weakness, and possibly "hand-and-foot syndrome" in which a person's hands and feet become painful, red and swollen. Hair loss, skin issues, even insomnia made the list, which is unfortunate, because sometimes sleep is a refuge, a healing place.
If you google "Stage IV Breast Cancer" you will be assaulted by words like "incurable" and "terminal." You will learn there is no Stage V. Fear may come, sniffing around, looking for a place to dump its load.... but remember, cancer is my teacher.
The last time I was told my treatment wasn't working- Olivia appeared and blessed my life in ways I could have never foreseen or imagined. She takes her place in my life, in the world. She is my sunshine. She takes her place among the flowers and butterflies, among the people and the animals who bring their light to the world... who care about me, stand by me, make me smile, pray for me, and give me hope...
Cancer is my teacher still.