PROJECT: 05-DJC:174.9

This is Deirdre's Breast Cancer Diary. I try to update this blog at least every evening. This is an easy way for me to keep a journal of the experience, and at the same time, I can keep my friends and family up-to-date on what is going on. I find it is not so bad to have cancer, but it is awfully depressing to talk about it. I hope you laugh as you read along. You can find the beginning in February the archives. Thanks again for reading :o)

Monday, November 21, 2005

Cancer Knocks You Down

These are some of the ways Cancer breaks you down:
  1. You are diagnosed with cancer. It feels like you've got a dog's choke collar on and you just peed on the carpet. Only, you haven't. Cancer just peed on you.
  2. The surgery. Think about it: you are having surgery to remove one of the things that make you a woman. Oh yes, let's not forget the discussion you get before surgery know the one about the advanced directive? And the form you have to fill out "just in case"? Nice.
  3. The appointments. The waiting rooms, the forms, the endless scans, tests, exams, IV's, tech's searching for veins, bruises from their unsuccessful efforts. Basically you are poked and prodded over and over again. It leaves you wanting to hire that one person who could actually find the vein to come with you to every appointment that involves a needle.
  4. The effect it has on your career. Cancer treatment must be aggressive. And it takes a long time. Cancer doesn't care how long you've been on the job or what your project plan is. It doesn't care if you have health insurance.
  5. The chemotherapy weakens you physically. Chemo is made to kill cells. If you were active before diagnosis, you are stopped. If you were sedentary, forget it. You may have been able to do anything you wanted to. Cancer has a different idea about you now. And you will be brought to your knees. Literally.
  6. The chemotherapy makes you bald. You are a woman, but you look like a _____ (who knows what?) People don't know what is going on with you, and they don't ask. I wish they would ask.
  7. The hormone therapy. The chemotherapy will usually take a woman like me - premenopausal - and make her postmenopausal. I will never ovulate again. Imagine, you are a 39 year old estrogen-rich young woman in February, and then in November you are like a 55 year old woman. Oh yes, since my tumor is hormone receptor positive, it means that I will never be able to use hormone replacement therapy. Just another way Cancer takes away your womanhood.
There is no deciding how you proceed after your diagnosis. You attack back. You must. It's not easy. And Cancer has experience at it's job. It's good at it. So we fight. We fight the anxiety, we fight the depression, we fight the urge to vomit, we fight the urge to flee to someplace with a beach and no hospitals. It feels like we probably won't die in treatment, but we could come pretty close to losing control of our faculties and in doing so, lose our dignity. We wear those damn gowns open in the back.
But I can tell you that I am glad to endure all of it. Because as hard as Cancer tries to strip me of everything I was, I know there is more to me than my body. If there is cancer in my body, take it...take it any way you must to rid me of wasn't mine and it didn't belong here. I am glad to be rid of it.
"What does not destroy me, makes me stronger."
-- Friedrich Nietzsche
"Endure and persist; this pain will turn to good by and by.


  • At 3:48 PM, Blogger kevin said…

    My wife came up with this one time while having chemo thought you might appriciate it. She lost her battle but her spirit lives on.

    our web page is

    10. Take your nausea medications religiously. The medicine works better at keeping nauseousness from starting then stopping it once you have it. Plus, it will make you really sleepy and things won't seem so bad!

    9. Ask for Neupogen (white blood count) and Procit (red blood count) for your low blood counts. Although first find out how much they will cost you because if you've seen the commercials (with the non-bald actors, I might add) for these drugs, the wonderful drug companies have to charge a small fortune for these drugs to cover the cost of advertising!

    8. Keep your chin UP!

    7. If you have any symptoms that just "drive you crazy" (like a constant stomachache, not being able to sleep, etc.), ask the doctor for some medication. Yes, you heard right, WHINE, WHINE, WHINE!

    6. Buy a Wig! (or better yet go around bald and show people what "wild and crazy" people us cancer survivors are!)


    4. Join a support group so when you need an understanding hug or shoulder to cry on, you'll have one! Also, join an internet support group like BosomBuds at for loving support whenever you need it (and for those late nights when you might not be able to sleep)!

    3. Use your energy to do things that lift your spirit - a walk, a visit from an old friend, reading "Tuesdays with Morrie", etc. - and DO NOT waste your energy on stressful endeavors - work, hospital bills, people that tell you to "KEEP YOUR CHIN UP" when YOU ARE TRYING TO "KEEP YOUR CHIN UP"!

    2. Throw away the wig you just spent $100.00 on because it is a big pain in the #$@%^^# and spend $5.00 at Wal-Mart on a couple of red bandanas!



  • At 4:08 AM, Blogger melissa said…

    I know you are not looking for pity or sympathy, but understanding, but what you just said, makes one put things in perspective doesnt it? Things may be tough for everyone for what ever reasons, but unfortunatly, it's always tougher for someone else.

    I wont say "keep your chin up" (lol), but know you are in our hearts and thoughts!!

    Hugs from Ohio

    Happy Turkey Day

  • At 1:09 PM, Blogger God's Child said…

    Enlightening list Deirdre. I never knew about the hormonal effects. Everytime I stop by I learn something new. I have only known people who have had breast cancer in their 50s so I guess that's why it never came up in conversation.


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