Monday, May 8, 2017

All of a Sudden, Everything Has Gotten Real!

Now that it looks as though a treatment plan will be falling into place today, I am slightly befuddled that I am having a difficult time writing anything. I have always been a person who wants and needs a plan and who wants to get things done yesterday. While it seems as though it has been a lifetime since my cancer schmantzer odyssey began, in point of fact, it has only been a little over a month.

During this past weekend, my gynecological oncologist called me (Yes, I repeat: SHE CALLED ME AT HOME ON A WEEKEND) to discuss the status of my case. She laid out all of my options, and she empathetically and directly asked and answered questions. She told me that her team would like to begin my chemo treatments as quickly as possible. While it is impossible to know how well I will tolerate the chemo, she told me that most patients are able to continue their normal lives; however, she told me that I should expect to be tired.

Because not disappointing my grandsons is at the top of my list of things I do not want to do, I asked her if I would still be able to take them to a Cubs’ game this summer. Since that would be near the end point of my 1st cycle of chemo, she checked her calendar and said that would work as long as I don’t mind being bald. When I told my son about this, he suggested that I should start looking for some kickass wigs. Since I really can’t see myself as a wearer of wigs, I began to think of the possibilities. I have a huge assortment of Cubs’ (and other less appropriate) caps that I could wear. Perhaps I might encourage the Bush boys to paint a Cubs’ logo on my bald head.

Who knows how I will deal with losing my hair?  Whatever the case, I will still be me. While I was relieved that my doctor called and began to sketch out a plan for my treatment, I realize that what is ahead of me is not going to be a walk in the park. Right now I am not sure of how I will respond to any of what might happen, but I am sure that all of a sudden this shit got very real.

My plan at this point is to put one foot in front of the other and to deal with things as they come.  
In the words of Eleanor Roosevelt: 
You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.' ....and so I hope it is with me.

Years ago when I had the opportunity to go skydiving, of course, I said yes because it seemed like a good idea at the time. As my date with my own derring-do approached, people kept asking me if I was afraid, and the more they asked, the more apprehensive I became. However, one of the coping mechanisms that I have used throughout my life is that in the face of something dreadful, I share my story about what lies ahead with the hope that the more I talk about the scary thing, the chance for me to back out or back down will diminish, and thus, the reason for this blog. By sharing my odyssey with others, I am relying on the strength and concern and love of others to help get me through my next phase of apprehension.

For that, Dear Readers and Dear Friends, thank you for helping me cope with whatever lies ahead.



  2. Phyllis, I am glad to hear that treatment is getting underway finally. Based upon the care and treatment my mother is getting, I know that some days are going to be tough and others not so much. The good thing is that there is treatment and great strides in treatment in the last decade. You are one tough cookie. You can do this. And I,for one, think you are going to be gorgeously bald, sporting a Cubs hat or not.

  3. Hi Phyllis - my wife Suzanne was diagnosed this past winter with prinary peritoneal cancer. She just completed 4 of 6 post surgery chemo treatments. When her hair started to thin she took matters into her own hands and asked me to shave her head. She looks really nice in a head scarf!

    The biggest immediate issue she faces is severe fatigue.

    I sincerely hope for the best possible medical outcome. Hell, the Cubbies won last year, right? Way less likely than remission!

  4. I second mikedad97's comment about head shaving. I cut mine off short as it was thinning and my husband shaved my head. I even asked my son-in-law to henna turtle on the crown -- it was lovely but didn't last. Fatigue. Hope you don't have pain. My second round, six months later, is now is filled with pain because it has migrated to the lining of my stomach. I wish you all the best!

  5. Hello, Phyllis, although we have not met, I feel that I know you. Thanks for all you do for public schools! I am a survivor; I did not expect to see 63, and now I am 73. Wigs? I did buy that kickass wig, and then I only wore baseball caps–although I had never worn one prior in my life. Each path is unique, but you will find much support along your own path.
    Sending virtual support. Joan Wink

  6. My very best to you. Prayers and wishes of strength. The Cubbies are lucky to have you in their ranks.!!

  7. My husband used these caps to get through. We lost him in January to esophageal cancer. I'm now jobless, but working so hard to keep it together for our three kids. You are amazing!

  8. Sending you love and strength! You are tough and have a great sense of humor, and those two things work in your favor. <3