You Have Cancer. Again.

Started by Tonia, December 08, 2014
9 replies for this topic
Tonia

Member
558 Posts
Posted on
December 08, 2014
The first time I heard that dreaded phrase, I was 14 years old. I had taken up a juggling hobby (make that obsession) and had been practicing for many hours a day. My right shoulder had started to ache, so we all assumed it was from overuse. I tried to back off a little, but the ache continued. One evening, I was juggling clubs at The Juggling Club and I threw a high double and caught it in my right hand. I heard a snap and felt excruciating pain shoot down my arm. I dropped the club I had just caught, and the ones in the air clattered to the ground. The room full of jugglers turned to look. I gritted my teeth, smiled and said, "Oops! Ha ha, I'm just … gonna go get a drink of water," and I rushed out of the room. Once in the hallway, I collapsed against the wall and tried to figure out what had happened. I could barely move my arm and it hurt, oh how it hurt.
 
~~~
 
It was already late, so I told my mom I was too tired to go the emergency room, let's wait until morning. It's probably nothing, may as well get a good night's sleep first. A couple of ibuprofen should dull the pain.
 
~~~
 
The ER doc thought it was most likely some sort of muscle strain, and that the noise I heard was the joint popping. "Let's take an X-ray, just to be safe."
 
His face when he returned with the films . . .  the look on his face told me it was not good.
 
"It's not what we expected."
 
He put the X-ray up on the board and we saw that a large tumor was filling the head of my humerus. The weight of a single juggling club had caused this weakened bone to snap.
 
I had heard my bone break.
 
 
My mom's face.
 
The doctor's face.
 
I picked up a magazine and pretended to read.
 
~~~
 
My best friend's dad was the pediatric oncologist available that morning. Now that I'm a mom, I can't imagine having to tell my kid's best friend this terrible news, to look at the parents that I know so well and say that heartbreaking diagnosis. Osteosarcoma. Chemotherapy. Surgery.
 
"But I'm in a play. I can't have cancer."
 
"We will do a biopsy to confirm. If it shows cancer, we will put in the portacath while she is still under anesthesia. We will need to start treatment right away."
 
~~~
 
As we drove to the biopsy that cold October morning, I looked out the window and thought to myself, "Thus begins the winter of my life."
 
So dramatic!
 
~~~
 
When the first wisps of consciousness lifted me out of anesthesia, I immediately felt for a port along my ribs. It was there. So it was confirmed.
 
You have cancer.
 
 
And now, over 20 years later, I am back in Cancerland. This time it is stage 4 lung cancer. So much is the same, and so much has changed.
 
The first time I heard those words I was terrified of needles. I was terrified of the hospital. I was terrified of losing my hair. I didn't think about dying, all my fears were focused on the really really really difficult chemo regime it involved.
 
The second time I heard those words, I was terrified of dying. I was terrified of missing my children growing up. I was terrified that they would never know their mom. I was terrified of not holding my end of the bargain with my husband, we were supposed to grow old together, raise our children together, build our lives together. How could I skip out on all that?
 
"I can't have cancer. I have three small children."
 
I made it through then, I can make it through now. Of course, now there isn't a "through." Now there just is. Just this, just now, just treatment and side effects, hoping I don't run out of options. Hoping the meds can keep one step ahead of the disease. Hoping that science keeps pace with my cancer. Hoping all the promising research pans out in time for me to use it.
 
Now I need to stick around for the next big thing.
 
Tori Tomalia is many things: a mom, a wife, a theatre artist, a mediocre cook, a Buffy fan, a stinky cheese aficionado. She is also, unfortunately, a repeat visitor to Cancerland. Stay tuned for her continued adventures.
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Anonymous

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
December 08, 2014
The first time I heard that dreaded phrase, I was 14 years old. I had taken up a juggling hobby (make that obsession) and had been practicing for many hours a day. My right shoulder had started to ache, so we all assumed it was from overuse. I tried to back off a little, but the ache continued. One evening, I was juggling clubs at The Juggling Club and I threw a high double and caught it in my right hand. I heard a snap and felt excruciating pain shoot down my arm. I dropped the club I had just caught, and the ones in the air clattered to the ground. The room full of jugglers turned to look. I gritted my teeth, smiled and said, "Oops! Ha ha, I'm just … gonna go get a drink of water," and I rushed out of the room. Once in the hallway, I collapsed against the wall and tried to figure out what had happened. I could barely move my arm and it hurt, oh how it hurt.
 
~~~
 
It was already late, so I told my mom I was too tired to go the emergency room, let's wait until morning. It's probably nothing, may as well get a good night's sleep first. A couple of ibuprofen should dull the pain.
 
~~~
 
The ER doc thought it was most likely some sort of muscle strain, and that the noise I heard was the joint popping. "Let's take an X-ray, just to be safe."
 
His face when he returned with the films . . .  the look on his face told me it was not good.
 
"It's not what we expected."
 
He put the X-ray up on the board and we saw that a large tumor was filling the head of my humerus. The weight of a single juggling club had caused this weakened bone to snap.
 
I had heard my bone break.
 
 
My mom's face.
 
The doctor's face.
 
I picked up a magazine and pretended to read.
 
~~~
 
My best friend's dad was the pediatric oncologist available that morning. Now that I'm a mom, I can't imagine having to tell my kid's best friend this terrible news, to look at the parents that I know so well and say that heartbreaking diagnosis. Osteosarcoma. Chemotherapy. Surgery.
 
"But I'm in a play. I can't have cancer."
 
"We will do a biopsy to confirm. If it shows cancer, we will put in the portacath while she is still under anesthesia. We will need to start treatment right away."
 
~~~
 
As we drove to the biopsy that cold October morning, I looked out the window and thought to myself, "Thus begins the winter of my life."
 
So dramatic!
 
~~~
 
When the first wisps of consciousness lifted me out of anesthesia, I immediately felt for a port along my ribs. It was there. So it was confirmed.
 
You have cancer.
 
 
And now, over 20 years later, I am back in Cancerland. This time it is stage 4 lung cancer. So much is the same, and so much has changed.
 
The first time I heard those words I was terrified of needles. I was terrified of the hospital. I was terrified of losing my hair. I didn't think about dying, all my fears were focused on the really really really difficult chemo regime it involved.
 
The second time I heard those words, I was terrified of dying. I was terrified of missing my children growing up. I was terrified that they would never know their mom. I was terrified of not holding my end of the bargain with my husband, we were supposed to grow old together, raise our children together, build our lives together. How could I skip out on all that?
 
"I can't have cancer. I have three small children."
 
I made it through then, I can make it through now. Of course, now there isn't a "through." Now there just is. Just this, just now, just treatment and side effects, hoping I don't run out of options. Hoping the meds can keep one step ahead of the disease. Hoping that science keeps pace with my cancer. Hoping all the promising research pans out in time for me to use it.
 
Now I need to stick around for the next big thing.
 
Tori Tomalia is many things: a mom, a wife, a theatre artist, a mediocre cook, a Buffy fan, a stinky cheese aficionado. She is also, unfortunately, a repeat visitor to Cancerland. Stay tuned for her continued adventures.
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Anonymous

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
December 08, 2014
Right. Stick around. That's what I want for all of us. To be very old together. Maybe laughing a little at ourselves. That would be great. You are a good writer!
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Anonymous

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
December 08, 2014
I am a two-time lung cancer survivor, but was older. I already had 3 grandchildren. Tori, you are younger than my youngest child. Amie will be 37 next month. (incidentally, she had colon cancer at age 32). You hang in there, baby girl, you are special. Give yourself a great big hug for me, okay?
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Anonymous

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
December 08, 2014
Oh Mary, what a dream it would be to grow old. And I'm pretty ridiculous, so laughing at myself sounds great. :)
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Anonymous

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
December 08, 2014
Thank you Linda, and congratulations on surviving lung cancer twice! I certainly plan to hang in there for as long as I possibly can.
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Anonymous

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
December 09, 2014
Your post really hit home as I am facing a a second round of lung cancer. I pray that for both of us and for everyone facing this monster that the science does indeed keep up and keep us alive. I have faith! You are brave. Stay Strong. Thanks for sharing.
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Anonymous

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
December 09, 2014
Stephanie, I am so sorry to hear you are facing a recurrence of lung cancer. Have they tested your tumor for mutations? They found that my tumor has a rare mutation, ROS1, so I am now on a targeted therapy that is doing an amazing job controlling the cancer. You can read more about testing for mutations at: http://dontguesstestlungcancer.com/. There is amazing stuff happening in the research now, and new treatment options are opening up. Best of luck to you!
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Anonymous

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
December 11, 2014
Tori, Sometimes I allow myself a bit of a dream. I think," Hey, I was told I had less than a year and here I am, in much better shape than I was last year." So.... breathe breathe breathe. And, on rare occasions, allow the smallest bit of dream to creep in. Actually, in some ways, you are living the dream.
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Anonymous

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
January 07, 2015
Nice thoughts. I never thought on caregivers the way you posted.Certainly they worth their weight on gold. I am a 2nd timer also and hope to pass this small cell lung cancer easy. I am not afraid anymore. I have been throughout this already. I have my partner in life but my side, My biggest fears are that my daughters could get Cancer and i wont be around to help them out. But they may not get it. I try to live day at the time and enjoy as much as i can now. Who knows tomorrow Cheers
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Anonymous

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0 Replies
Posted on
March 13, 2015
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