I give up, and other passing thoughts!

First, don’t freak out! I do not quit!

The last entry I wrote was about tests coming up and being stressed about what they may show. I have had my tests to check on the status of my cancer the day after I returned home from being away with my sister for over a month. Three days later, I had an appointment with my medical oncologist to touch base after tests and over a month off of treatment. At that appointment, I found out that I had lost weight over the month which was a pleasant surprise. The results were in only from my bone scan and it showed a new metastasis to my sternum. So much for the hope that we had actually managed to kill it all!

I wasn’t really surprised by this. But still, it took some processing time. Tom being away, I had gone to the appointment alone and it made a big difference in that area. As the doctor was examining me I was thinking about how often she has to give this sort of news and I said, “You chose this specialty why?” She said not to get her started. Of course, I told her that I was very glad that she had chosen oncology. We decided that we couldn’t really know if the Ibrance had been working since I had taken over a month off of it. So we decided to continue with that treatment for three months, and then reevaluate.

As I drove from there I was going through things in my head. My sisters had texted already to find out results, but I was uncomfortable with responding since Tom didn’t know yet. I picked up my daughter to take her home and made small talk. It didn’t seem fair to dump it on her. When I got home I sent messages to Tom that we needed to talk, and then I waited.

As you can likely surmise from the existence of this blog, I am a sharer and I found it really hard to just sit with the information to myself. So, I stewed! I don’t really remember how the rest of the day unfolded. I might have made supper, or I may have just made good use of one of the blankets friends had given to me and stared at the tv. I had gone to “that bad place,” as my sister-in-law calls it.

When Tom called I told him about the appointment, feeling like a bit of an ogre for dumping information in his lap about which he could do nothing at all. I guess that happens normally, but it is usually the doctor doing the dumping. He offered to come home, but I said he should stay and have fun. After the call, I couldn’t really face a bunch of separate messages, and knowing how my girls always figure that something horrible has happened when I call them both to the living room for a chat, I composed an email and sent it to my three kids (all adults) and all my siblings.

The next day I was to Saint John for a follow up with one of my radiation oncologists. He had the CT results which showed several more spots on different bones. We talked about going forward with no need for regular follow-up appointments. He asked about pain and I was glad to say that I don’t really have much so far. I don’t even take Tylenol most of the time. He said to call him when pain can no longer be helped with regular medication and he would do a targeted radiation on the spot to relieve pain.

Again I drove home alone, absorbing what I had heard. I was in that “I give up!” zone for sure. I had to stop at oncology in Fredericton to pick up my Letrozole, and while I was there they told me that my doctor had decided to do four treatments of a bone-strengthening drug called Zometa. This is an IV treatment, and it was booked for Valentine’s day.

At some point, I talked with my sister, my kids, my minister, and friend. Having thus processed, I realized that nothing had actually changed. And just like that, the “I give up” thought began to fade. As they say, we have good days and bad days. I won’t go as far as to say that I am not Susie Sunshine (I don’t think that description has ever been associated with me) but I am definitely back to a level place. I will be on chemo of some sort for the rest of my life, hopefully, that will be a long time, but if it isn’t, it can at least be a good time!

That awkward conversation!

You have discovered that you have cancer and then comes the question of whom to tell, when to tell them, and how to tell them.


I would think that most people tell their life partners first (I would guess parents for unattached younger folks). Actually, apparently most people take their spouse to the appointment for the results, which never occurred to me. The people who live with you and those related to you seem obvious people as well.

Tom and my children and siblings all knew that I had been getting tested so there was no issue with how to bring the topic up. Either in person, on the phone or in email, “I had a doctor’s appointment today. I have breast cancer.”

bitmoji-947364469Things are a little more awkward with friends, coworkers etc, especially if you haven’t been in touch in a while.

you – Hi Susie, how are you doing?

Susie – Great, what’s new with you?

dilemma time… do you want to catch up a bit first, or do you basically take over the conversation right now?

you – I just found out that I have breast cancer.

At this point, as you may assume from the fact that this is a public blog, I think I have told most people I know one way or another. The exception to this is my students at the high school which I am doing today. The easiest ones were when I had told one friend and then asked them to fill in the other people in our circle and I think that is because then the other person deals with their initial reaction.

So, today…

I am off to the school. I teach, or I guess taught, four classes and have a home room. Rather than hang around all day and talking with each class separately, I am hoping to have them all at once. This is a bit of logistical issue as they are all in their other classes and there are few places big enough for 100 students. So, the theatre may be the location which in and of itself is not ideal.

What do I want them to know?

  1. I would rather be here teaching them.
  2. I have cancer.
  3. I will be having an assortment of treatments that will likely take close to a year.
  4. I will be ok.
  5. I will not be back to teach them.
  6. I will be thinking of them.

In the end, I didn’t get to tell students today. We are going to consult with a few people about the best way to go about this and then meet again. The admin are going to make sure that my students know that I won’t be back.