Friday, July 21, 2006

Birth, death and everything in between...

The story thus far, or where it all began.

December 21st 2004 and I had just given birth to the most beautiful, amazing 10 lb baby boy. Jamie. As they took him away to be checked, my midwife noticed a lump on my leg and asked me if I wanted her to remove it and send it to the lab. I agreed and it was done. I thought nothing more of it. I held my baby and was so unspeakably, blissfully happy - happier than I'd ever been in my life. My husband Jim was right there with me as we brought Jamie into the world, then set about getting to know our brand new son.

I was in the hospital for two days after and came home on December 23rd, just in time to have a wonderful Christmas with our three older children and our new baby. No sooner had I got home, though, than the phone rang. It was my OB's office asking me to come in. I thought she just wanted to check me over prior to the holiday or something and Jim and I wrapped the baby up snugly and drove over there.

We walked into the office, expecting everyone to oooh and aaaah over Jamie, after having been going there for my whole pregnancy. Nobody said a word. We thought it was strange, but were so wrapped up in each other and our happiness that we didn't pay it too much attention.

That was the last moment I was ever going to feel happy again.

I went into the examination room and my doctor came in. She wasted no time getting to the point. "The lump you had removed was cancer, either melanoma, or...." I can't remember the other thing she said because I was struggling not to pass out at that point. "Either way, it's not good." she finished.

I sat there and felt myself crumple. I started to cry. I looked at my baby and realised that there was a good chance I wasn't going to see him grow up.

"What about my kids?" I managed to sob, my first thought one of horror at the idea of leaving them. "Am I going to die?" was my second thought.

My doctor reassured me that they had caught it early and there was a good chance that I would be all right after treatment. She told me that she was arranging for me to see the best person in the area for what I had and told me to call after the holiday. Then she left.

Jim and I just sat and looked at each other in horror. I couldn't stop crying. He hugged me so tight and we sat there for quite a while until I decided that I wanted to get out of there. I barely made it into the car before breaking down again and we both cried for a long time. "I can't go home, I can't face my kids yet." I told him. So we decided to go and do some last minute shopping. Me just home from the hospital with my newborn baby and all.

We went to Toys R Us, where we bought some more baby supplies and Christmas toys for the kids, both of us by this time just completely numb. Two days before Christmas and we'd had the rug pulled out from under us in a spectactular way. Finally, we went home and I hugged my kids and nursed my baby and then just sat on the couch in shock, horrified and still unable to process the news I'd just been given.

Christmas Eve was a blur. Jim went off with David, our older son (now 16) to finish the Christmas shopping and I stayed home and focused on the baby and making the holiday special for my girls. At that point I didn't know if it would be my last Christmas with them and wanted them to have some incredible memories.

Christmas Day 2004 dawned and the kids had a wonderful day. Jamie had a smart new suit on...

I tried not to obsess about what was to come.......

Sunday, July 16, 2006

The road less travelled.

This is my first attempt at producing a page in which I want to write about my experiences in living with advanced Melanoma.

Right now I'm on a road that is being travelled by a few brave warriors, whose footsteps I tread in now. Some are gone, but many are still with us, still fighting. I think that the human spirit is something that is often underestimated. The human will to survive is phenomenal.

When you get cancer, they want to cut, poison and burn you, trying to 'cure' you. It's a testament to that human survival instinct that we let them do it. And we do it with stoicsim and determination... When I started doing chemo, it amazed me how much backbone it actually took to get through, not only the immediate side effects, but the weeks after when I felt like Hell. When I coud hardly care for my children because I felt so ill... After the first cycle, it got so bad that I started to think "Is this what it's going to be like from now on? Is this how my life is going to be until I die?"

Well it wasn't. I got better - just in time to start cycle #2. After #2, I had one good week before cycle #3... and then lo and behold, after #3, I just felt 'normal' (whatever that is anymore).

I have so much to say. I want this blog to reflect my thoughts and feelings as I travel this road and hopefully, someone out there will be touched by it and know that they're not alone. We are on this road and there are others right here beside us, walking in these same footsteps of those who went before.

So this post is just a 'hello'... In the next post, I'll start from the beginning and relive the journey. I've gotta tell you, that's going to be hard. But I think it will be worth it.

Until then, live strong.