I’ve been quite busy the last few days living my life.
I’m going to say that again — living my life. Those are 3 beautiful little words to someone dealing with cancer. Past or present, once you’ve tangled with the beast, the idea of living, i.e., surviving, is sweet. The idea of living your life, even sweeter because it means that in some way, you are getting back a semblance of the pre-cancer life.
It’s almost October, which brings a multitude of conflicting emotions and thoughts. National Breast Cancer Awareness Month is confusing for me, and for many other cancerchicks. On one hand, I’m grateful to Komen for destigmatizing what once was a shameful disease. I’m thankful for the research and the advances that have been made, which allow women like me to deal with BC much more easily than my pink ribbon sisters before me. On the other hand, I’m uncomfortable with all the pinkwashing that occurs. At what point can we declare enough with the awareness? Is there really anyone who’s not aware that BC exists and rips people’s lives apart to the tune of 1.3 million worldwide every year? More on that later.
While I’m torn about the Komen issue, I decided last-minute to do the Race for the Cure, which is tomorrow. The Houston version of the race usually attracts nearly 40,000 people so it’s a big deal, literally. I’ll be among the sea of pink tomorrow morning, wishing that the organization putting on the race would focus more on research and metastatic disease and less on putting a pink ribbon on products from fried chicken to dog treats to toilet paper. I’ll proudly wear my hot pink SURVIVOR shirt, basking in the glow of having made it through the plethora of crap cancer threw at me, but I’ll also mourn those who didn’t make it through.
But that’s tomorrow. Today I’m going to be kicking some butt on the tennis court. It’s the annual member-guest tournament at our club, and Christy and I plan to dominate. She’s a fierce competitor who wants to bring home the hardware. Me too, but I’m also happy to be living my life.
I’ve had this snazzy little grouping of prescription drugs on my kitchen counter for months now. Yes, the lids are pink, because my Walgreens had them for the pinkwashing that comes every October for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Cute, huh?
These are the drugs I take every day, like a little old lady. My old standbys. The usual cast of characters.
There are the two big stars sharing top billing, Bactrim and Minocycline. My darling antibiotics that course throughout my body twice a day, every day to kick some mycobacterium butt. I would be lost without them. Or perhaps I would lose the all-day morning sickness feeling without them, but that’s just wishful thinking. Maybe I’d be dead without them, who knows? There was a time when I was almost sure I was dying from them, but I got over that.
Next we have the Florastor, the one thing that besides coffee that keeps me upright every day. I’m forever indebted to Susan Christopherson for turning me onto this probiotic that helps restore peace and order in one’s digestive system after said system has been under attack by the slash & burn tactics of an antibiotic regime. There have been a few times over the last 6 months of living under this regime in which I’ve either forgotten or willingly neglected the Florastor, and I paid dearly for that mistake. It’s not a prescription, but is kept behind the pharmacy counter for some reason. I don’t have to show my driver’s license to buy it, though, so I guess you can’t make meth out of it.
There’s the Ferrex iron supplement, since I’m a bit anemic and because I need uber-healthy blood vessels to harvest during reconstruction. Because I don’t eat any meat, I need a little help getting my iron; I get some from all the dark, leafy greens I eat, but not as much as my carnivorous friends ingest. My sweet, Peruvian oncologist can’t for the life of himself understand why someone would willingly forego meat. He shakes his head and looks at me a little funny every time it comes up, and he tends to bring it up every time he sees me. I’m done expecting him to compliment me on my plant-based, cancer-fighting diet. It didn’t help much, anyway, so I guess everyone is free to go on ahead and eat a big-ass, nasty, extra-rare steak. Might as well add some fries, or a loaded baked potato. You can see how far the healthy eating thing got me. Harumph.
Then there’s Tamoxifen, my daily cancer-battling bad-ass. It makes sure that there’s no estrogen flowing to feed any remaining cancer cells. While the side effects are troublesome (early menopause, hot flashes, leg cramps, decreased fluid in the joints, to name a few), I like the idea of starving those bastards. Tamoxifen is my first line of defense against recurrence. It makes me feel like I’m doing something every day to keep this beast from re-entering my life. It’s a daily pill that I’ll take for 5 years, then reassess to determine if I should stay on it or switch to another, similar drug.
And today I stopped taking it.
That scares me. More than a little bit. But since Tamoxifen can promote blood clots, it’s counterindicated with surgery. So I stop taking it for 3 weeks and hope that nothing goes haywire with my bloodflow. No clots, no bloodletting, no drama. That sure would be nice for a change.
Although I’m subtracting one prescription from my snazzy little grouping, I still feel like a little old lady whose life revolves around her meds. Ya know the old wisecrack issued when someone asks what time it is, and someone else smarts off, “Why? Ya gotta take a pill?” In my case, the answer is yes, smart ass, more than one pill. So zip it and get me a big glass of water so I can choke these guys down. While my life may seem to revolve around my meds, I refuse–I mean, dig in my heels and refuse–to get a plastic pill organizer. I’m all about accessories, but not that.