Breast Cancer Journey: Dear God, what do you want from me?

16196717_10211607204321350_2071707470_oDear God, is there something I am not getting here? Is there something you want me to do that I might not have the energy to do after I start chemo? You wouldn’t, umm, be trying to kill me or something, would you?

No, I don’t believe that. But why would I? I have not taken this thing seriously since before my diagnosis, since my ho hum attitude toward being asked to come back for a second mammo and ultrasound after the first one. The terms, “I have cancer,” and “I have breast cancer” — I can say them, but they don’t really ring true. I can stand in front of the mirror and look at the mastectomy scars, and there is still some disconnect. Is that me? How did I get to here, on the other side of that mastectomy?

Also, I had a PET scan, and no cancer was found in my body after the surgery. Now I figure this doesn’t mean that there isn’t any, or they wouldn’t bother to torture me with chemo and radiation. And my type of cancer is sneaky. It is invasive lobular carcinoma, and while most cancer grows in clumps, this type of cancer grows in rows of cells, eventually turning into sheets of cells instead of a lump. It is insidious because it can be hard to detect. So while a part of me says, they have cut out all the cancer and now we are just cleaning up any stray cells, but that shouldn’t be too hard so I will be fine, another part of my is cautious and concerned.

So far my chemo has been delayed twice, and it is about to be delayed a third time. First I cannot seem to get rid of this surgical drain, and I can’t have chemo until after it is gone due to the possibility of infection. It seems I am out to set some sort of world record in surgical drain retention. As of tomorrow it will be seven weeks. Usually they are in for one to two weeks, occasionally as much as four weeks. The output on the drain needs to be below 30 cc’s a day before they can safely remove it, and mine is still averaging 50, occasionally dipping to a blessed 40. My surgeons keep saying, “Are you doing too much?” Well, I’m doing darn little (which you can tell by looking at my house), but who knows, maybe it is too much.

Meanwhile, the anticipation of chemo has been a pretty dreadful thing. I have been given a whole list of possible side effects, each one of which would lay me out on its own. I have also been given a lot of literature on chemo from various sources, and have found some measures that I can take to try to minimize those side effects, and have begun those. The doctors prescribe a ton of anti-nausea medications, including an IV infusion of one at the time of the chemo itself, so I am hoping not to have to deal with that. The mouth sores, the bone pain, those worry me.

What worries me most is the immunosuppression, trying to avoid getting sicknesses and infections. At least it’s not flu season, I told myself, but just then it seems an end of the season virus decided to make the rounds, and sure enough it hit my family. I was already in chemo mode, and I washed my hands raw, I used hand sanitizer wipes and gels after every contact with every surface, and I avoided getting close to people. It had hit my little grandson first.He is fifteen months old and this is his first real illness. Five days later his mom and dad both came down with it. They all live with me, so at that point I figured I was doing a pretty good job avoiding it. Under normal circumstances, I do have a really good immune system when it comes to upper respiratory infections. But a week later my system surrendered. I got a scratchy throat first, and as much as I tried to deny it, it turned into a cold.

Right now I am trying to baby myself. I am trying to stay in my room, on my bed. In fact, I am writing from there right now. I am trying not to talk, because it irritates my throat, and not to “do too much.”  I have taken antihistamines and expectorants to keep my bodily fluids from getting out of hand, and tylenol to keep the inflamation down. I have requested someone bring me greens to throw in my shakes, and I am taking all my supplements. I am just trying to minimize this darn cold so it won’t turn into a long, drawn out thing, and to get rid of this drain.

We simply have got to get this show on the road. I am hoping the anticipation of chemo is going to be worse than the chemo itself. I am looking forward to the day when I can say, well, we got through that. And in addition, this is really dragging out the time of treatment. As it is my disability payments don’t quite reach the anticipated end of my treatment, and that end keeps getting farther away. I talked to another cancer patient today. We were talking about supplements, and not being able to afford them, and the term she used was “financially crushed.” I thank God our medical insurance is pretty good, but I was unemployed and looking for a job when I was diagnosed, and I won’t be able to actually get a job until it is all over, and the place where the two ends don’t meet could be tough.

If I had to do it all over again, I think I would take money more seriously from my youth. I would try to like science more and English less. I would learn about money and how it works, and put that knowledge to work. Sometimes I watch shows about people with great careers, often instead of families, and I think how much easier their lives are. But that was not who I was, not who I am. Even to this day, my family means more to me than money. In fact, my family is the only reason I even care about whether I have money or not.

But here is what I would do if I had to do it over again. I would be a vegan right from the start and would raise my children that way. I have seen since I started a vegan diet that literally all my blood chemistry has fallen dramatically into line. Asked generally about diet, with no reference to veganism, my oncologist said that there is some evidence that a diet free of animal products helps protect from cancer (although he did admittedly say that during chemo he wanted to me just eat whatever I could). I would not drink sodas, at all. All of the cans are lined with BPA, which is implicated in causing a host of medical problems, including cancer and diabetes. Same goes for diet sodas. I spent so much of my life addicted to diet sodas in BPA lined cans.

I used to think, as I abused my body through junk food, that one day if I reached the point where it was possible that it would cost me my life (I had in mind sudden heart problems rather than an insidious cancer invasion), that in that moment I would regret every single unhealthy, unnecessary morsel or drink I put into my mouth, ever. I would think to myself, why don’t I just stop now, so I don’t have to come to that day? Why, really, why? In my heart of hearts, I think there was a bit of a self destructive impulse in there. But there is one thing I know for certain, and that is that I don’t really know myself all that well.

Anyway, this is where I am right now. In limbo, circling the field, waiting to land. It’s getting to be really old, too. So, God, if there is something I need to get done before I head into chemoland, could you please give me a bit fat hint? I’d appreciate it.

Or maybe there is just some wisdom I can’t see. Maybe my chemo was delayed twice, because God knew that sometime in that third week, I would come down with a cold, which I am not allowed to do while I am having my treatments.

Who knows? But whatever it is, could we please just get a move on? And make it an easy journey, please, God?

As for the rest of my life, it hasn’t been going all that well. Since January 11th, I have had three, count ’em, three surgeries. The first one, the major one that required hospitalization afterwards, was okay. The second one, which was to remove some dead skin, I have actually characterized as fun. I had sedation rather than full anesthesia, no breathing tube, and they woke me up in the operating room right after surgery so my surgeon could talk to me. I woke up in the best mood ever! I wanted to party! More to the point, I wanted to eat. Everything. The surgery was performed in San Francisco, because it was an emergency surgery and that is where my surgeon was working that day. I asked my husband if we could go to Fisherman’s Wharf on the way home. It had been an afternoon surgery, so I had gone for a very long time without eating, and I was hungry. I could taste that crusty sourdough bread that is like no other bread in the world. And crab. My little vegan heart wanted crab.

We didn’t go, and I don’t honestly remember what I did eat that day. But it was as though a switch was flipped that turned on my appetite. Having done so well for so long, I just wanted to eat. I had previously only wanted food when I was hungry, and then it was just something to eat, but suddenly I was thinking about food all the time, and I was eating stuff I didn’t even really want or like in an effort to satisfy this craving … which hasn’t gone away, if you were wondering.

Of course, I also had my appoinment with my chemo doctor right around then, and was told all the dietary restrictions I would have during chemo. I was also told I might not want to eat because food would probably not taste good. Well, that’s okay by me. I think. Perhaps I was making up for my anticipated losses by eating more food than I need right now. Nevertheless, I am struggling to bring this under control, because it is not healthy.

Spiritually also I have been suffering. God is so far away! I told him the other day, if you want me to keep believing, you are going to have to start talking to me. No word yet. In all honestly I haven’t talked to God much either. I read about him, think about him, learn about him, but I haven’t actually been talking to him. This is a big fat heavy duty subject that I’m really too tired to go into. But it’s just another area where I’m struggling.

Not unusual, I don’t suppose, to struggle with some things in these circumstances. I do appreciate your prayers, as always, and your love. That is one thing I have had in abundance in my life, love. So thank you all for that.

Hope to be back soon with progress and good news!

5 thoughts on “Breast Cancer Journey: Dear God, what do you want from me?

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  1. Dearest friend,
    Just say the word, and I will bring you a chowder bowl, or even something vegan from our new vegan restaurant. God has his arms around you. He is not far from you. All that Jesus wants is for you to take his hand and walk with him.and don’t let go!


    1. Thank you, my friend. I was snuggling with my blankie last night and thinking about the day I could snuggle with it and the struggle would be in the past and it would just be a reminder that you cared and that we could get through these things. Love you!


  2. Dear Sharon,

    (I have three relatives who all recovered from cancer like yours years ago and are still doing well so you’ve got a lot to look forward to once you get over this).

    I’m sorry to bother you with this now but it is important enough that I feel I must mention it. I am having trouble with my computer and I am hoping I will be able to contact you by posting this way because I’ve failed all other ways. I think you need to have someone who reads Arabic fluently recheck the two Arabic sections on your other web page because I believe you posted the same section in Arabic two times instead of posting two different ones, and I don’t think you mentioned a phone number anywhere in the Arabic. I do not read Arabic but I’ve seen the numbers and it looks to me like you printed the section with the date “1988” two times instead of posting a second, different section with your phone number, but again I do not actually read Arabic itself so you need someone who reads it fluently to recheck.

    In addition to that if you want to be able to receive letters written in foreign languages which use different alphabets than ours you might need to have a special program installed in your computer so the script is not translated into gibberish by the computer. I would suggest that you contact someone who has ties to an American Embassy where Arabic would be spoken so they can make proper and productive recommendations about what computer software you need and about how to paste your phone number clearly in Arabic. Overall my guess is that the Arab speaking country with the most cordial relations to America at this point is probably Jordan.

    In addition to that the majority of my family was blond as babies and small children but later their hair turned darker, and if that is the case in your family I think that whoever made the updated photo of Michaela could probably just use a photo program to change the hair on the photo to a darker shade which is more likely to match. My own ears were very protruding as a child, but they are slightly less noticeable now (though still somewhat too big), so I would suggest that you take a look at whoever else in your family had protruding ears like Michaela’s and try to figure out if they are less noticeable now, overall. I’m having trouble communicating with you through other means as my computer is dysfunctional. I hope this works.

    Hold on. You’ll get through this just like all the others before you have. Kind regards.


    1. The Arabic section in my Dear Michaela blog was written by another paralegal in my office who was from Iran. Not sure if I can get hold of her now to check it again. Hopefully it is okay, because I just copied it and pasted it. At this point I don’t remember what it is supposed to say, or if there is a phone number in it. I do receive all sorts of things written in all sorts of alphabets. You are right, if I wanted to write in those alphabets I would have to have different keyboards, but I can’t do that because I don’t know the language, but I can receive them with no problem.

      Michaela has three full siblings, and none of them kept their pale blonde hair, so I know that is true. I don’t think anybody is going to “recognize” her somewhere. I don’t think that is at all possible. I think if Michaela is alive, she will be rescued only if she herself initiates it, or if someone who actually knows something helps us. I have received emails about her being in the UAE from both Russia and Iran, but after an initial contact they seemed unwilling to get involved. As intriguing as it is that I received these emails from so far and wide, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is true either. We have received calls with general locations of gravesites as well, and badly need that person to call back.

      Thanks for your encouragement. I plan to survive. 🙂


      1. When she was about 19 I recognized a girl I hadn’t seen since she was 12, in a different location. There are people who have a real gift for facial recognition; Even after years have gone by they pick up on details which no one else would notice.

        I just meant that if you wanted Michaela to call you and you think she might be able to read the Arabic you should check that it says the phone number someplace in Arabic.

        I’ve been vegetarian leaning toward (but not completely) vegan for over 15 years. Although I haven’t eaten meat at all in 15 years I do still eat a lot of cheese, milk (or eggs on a rare occasion) when I’m emotionally strained and upset, and it makes me sick each time. I do think it made a positive difference in my overall health to stop eating meat. The China Study by T. Colin Campbell from Cornell University gives a lot of information about the vegan diet, though I probably found it because I’m from New York and there are likely many more books from California which cover the same information.

        I’m the same age as your daughter. I’m glad I was able to get the message through this way because I was concerned about Michaela not knowing what your phone number was, but I’m getting off the computer for the moment.

        You will survive, and you will live a long life of value, as you clearly choose to live a life of value each day. You are inspiring.


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