Monday, April 3, 2017

Who He'd Be Today

Nine years.

For nine years, I've tried to formulate a coherent sentence about what April 3rd means to me.  But instead, I just remember that girl who after an unimaginable period of staying home in her grief, finally ventured out to meet her best girlfriend thinking she was ready for the words. Instead, she could only put her head in her hands and cry.

That's was me.

Nine years later, that's still me.

So I'll try my very best to say it this way:

Dear Colton,

I love you.  For so long before I heard about you, you were the child of my dreams. When I was little, I'd play dress ups with my dolls and I'd imagine you. When I was older, I'd think about what my life would be, and you were always in the vision of that "someday", When I met your dad and we'd lay around looking at the sky and talking about the beautiful dreams ahead - it was you that we were talking about. When our dream finally became a reality, with a whoop and a holler, the excitement was all yours.

And on April 3, 2008, you became the child of my dreams once more.  

Every day that I breath on this earth will be in the memory of how a tiny little boy, who fit into the palm of my hand, changed it. I am your mother and you are my son. 

Today, on your birthday, I close my eyes and think about the boy you would be. I envision you with blond hair and those darling deep dimples you got from your dad.  I think about his beautiful brown eyes and how they would have also been your beautiful brown eyes.  But from me, you would get your spunk - your spark - your spirit. 

This is the year that I would have bought you your first pony.  You are my Colt and at nine, this is the year I would teach you to fly...

So fly still my little son, and remember how much your mother loves you.


Friday, March 31, 2017

Rebel Cry

I cannot count how many times over the last 18 months I've said to myself, "sit down and write."  Not to simply add another post to my count... but to give voice to my thoughts, and dreams, and disappointments.  For which, there have been many. To get all of the things swirling around in my head and heart out and on paper, where I can hopefully sort them into sensible little boxes.

But I haven't. 

Because I can't.

Last March, I received great news. After two years of treatment, my biopsy was clean.  Uterine cancer no more.  With the next biopsy in July, it was back.  5%.  Not an alarming percentage of bad cells...but it wasn't zero.  Regardless, I made an appointment (with the blessing of my oncologist) to see what my Reproductive Endocrinologist would say. Any chance of a frozen embryo transfer?

Nope.  He said I had to have a sustained clean biopsy for 6 months before he would even think about it. 

So back on cancer-fighting drugs I went.  Another biopsy 3 months later (November) showed an increase still. 8%. A month later (December), I elected for surgery - a uterine scrape - on a wing and a prayer that if we scraped away the bad cells... we'd be back where we wanted to be with zero. Pathology of those scraped cells however, wasn't great - It was horrible actually.  Up to 26%.  But we elected to give it three more months.

And in those three months, I decided to do it my way.  

With a rebel cry, I started 2017 by throwing all of my medications away.  I said, "to heck with it!" because those meds have made an infertile... even more infertile. So I stopped. And in my rebellion, I decided to let nature take its course.

I didn't even schedule my 3 month biopsy for March.  

I decided to let nature takes its course.

And oh boy, has she!  Physically, I haven't felt better. After three months, the medication has finally cleared my body and after 10 long years of pumping infertility and cancer medication into my body.... I finally feel like me again.  That's a big win and 45% of why I said, "enough".

But, unfortunately, my rebel cry was short lived.  Part of the downside of uterine cancer gone untreated is bleeding. And when I say bleeding...I mean bleeding! Think of your worst period and then magnify it x10. Then factor that it doesn't stop (because I'm not taking the medication to make it stop). So at the beginning of March that started. 

And didn't stop. 

So in a panic - I started the horrible medication again.  

Still didn't stop.

So after a month of feeling like I'm bleeding to death, I called the oncologist and she asked me to come right in. She patiently listened to my rebellion... Performed that unscheduled, but overdue, biopsy... And changed my medications.

And in her eyes I know exactly where this is going...

So now I wait for pathology results and her call, so we can have what I know in my gut will be the worst discussion of my life. 


Sunday, July 24, 2016

Our Own Personal Gethsemane

Every three months I have a biopsy to see if the cancer cells are growing... shrinking... have moved beyond the uterus... or have completely vacated it.  

I always hope for the later. 

But we've been at this for 2 1/2 years now...with little progress of shrinking or vacating... so I started the day in preparation for this biopsy, a little emotional.  For me, cancer diagnosis and treatment has been 2 1/2 years of a personal Gethsemane.  Every day has been a challenge as I take my daily dose and try to maintain hope and heart towards my desire for motherhood.  Some days I've handled it with grace.  Often times, I fear I have not.

I started the day playing over the conversation I would have with Dr. Z.  When is enough... enough? At what point do we move on to the next step - total hysterectomy?  Have we done all that we could do?

It was an interesting dialog that I had with myself in the bathroom mirror.  There may have been a few tears shed as the quiet corners of my mind told my heart the answers I have generally feared since I heard that unexpected word, "cancer".

I never feared death.  Not once.  I only feared it taking my chance of motherhood away. 

So after a morning of quiet contemplation regarding our reality... which has really been many mornings regarding reality, I was calm and ready when I had the actually conversation with the doctor.  She greeted us in her typical warm and friendly way.  She always shakes my hand with an extra pat and looks me in the eye as she asks for the truth of how I'm really feeling.  I'm blessed with a doctor like that - one who has impeccable kindness and good bedside manner.  She is everything an oncologist should be. 

As she reviewed my chart, she hit the high points out-loud.  Diagnosed in February 2014 during what was to be of a frozen embryo transfer.  9+ years of infertility in which multiple rounds of IVF and FET have been unsuccessfully pursued.  Patient is currently 41 years old. Patient has 8 embryos still frozen, awaiting possible transfer.  Since February 2014, lab results, every three months, historically show little-to-no cell shrinkage from treatment, yet at the same time - no growth... yada, yada, yada.      
Which is when I quietly interrupted to ask, "Dr. Z - how long do we do this?”

At that, she looked up, kindly tilted her head to one side and said, "JaLae... I've been waiting for that question."

"My job has been to give you as much hope as possible, dealing with the realities before us. In truth, it hasn't gotten better.  Yet at the same time, it hasn't gotten worse.  I will tell you that in most patients like you, if we see success, it is in the first year. I haven't been able to find a case in any medical research or journals that saw success extending beyond two years...."

I quiet stated, "But we've been at this for 2 1/2.  Do you think it's time to move on?"

"If we don't see what we need to see from these lab results - then yes.  I think it's time to move on with other, more aggressive, treatment options." was her reply.

And so it is.

I wait.

I wonder.

And I prepare my heart for what the quiet corners of my mind told it yesterday morning, as I looked myself in the mirror.

Gethsemane is where Jesus suffered.  He did it for me - He did it for you.  But in suffering for us, He still left us a little portion.  For me, the process of losing this particular dream, just happens to be mine.

(Special note: this is not the place to ask if I've thought about adoption or foster care...)

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Patience - The Virtue.

Once upon a time, I thought a two-week wait after an embryo transfer was the longest wait of my life.

I was wrong.

The longest wait is actually when you have been fighting cancer for two (very looong!) years and you have the hard conversation with the oncologist about what's next.

Then you have to wait for the biopsy results to determine if you get to walk through Door #1 ... or Door #2.

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