I have my fourth scan today. My third since starting treatment. I’m finishing my ninth cycle of Ibrance. Life still feels tremendously incremental, as if I live from week to week. Each Wednesday afternoon when I refill my pill pack for the upcoming seven days, I let out a breath I didn’t know I was holding. Life with metastatic cancer is a series of moments where you’re holding your breath, waiting for the other shoe to drop.
I have made it nearly a year. Lately, I have started making plans in November, and each time I do so, I feel a jolt of realization at what I was doing last year at that time. Last year at this time, I was experiencing some of the worst pain in my life. Dr. F had not yet found my breast lump. My life had not been turned upside down. In some ways, I am reliving a trauma that I can never fully escape. I do not think I’m a person who is easily shocked, but this diagnosis shook me to my core. I still do a double-take when I think about the fact that I have metastatic cancer.
A few days ago, I was getting ready for bed, and completely melted down. Cancer is so incredibly hard, and I haven’t really, to be honest, had it all that bad at this point. The knowledge of what could come is tremendously frightening. I sobbed, terrified, at what the scan might show. I am terrified of dying. I don’t want Felix to grow up without a mother, and I can’t bear to think that Christian could lose his wife. I realized, in this moment, how lonely this road is that I’m traveling. My husband sat with me, unsure how to find space with me that would be of comfort. “Go with me to those hard places,” I asked him. I needed someone to accompany me and confront the potential realities of my diagnosis. I needed to walk that road, to know what is to come, and not to be alone as I did it. I needed someone to avoid defaulting to “it’ll be ok” because, quite frankly, we don’t know that.
Sitting with difficult feelings is such a challenging thing to do. I can’t say that I’m particularly good at it – I always want to find the right thing to say, or to gloss over the discomfort. But I have been forced to recognize the importance of sitting with that discomfort, acknowledging it, and, in whatever small ways possible, accepting it, even if I don’t like it.
So today is my scan. What is to come, I don’t know, but we will see.