Spotted towhees, bright bluebirds, and red robins entertain me from where I sit. It’s a good place to be, to reflect, and contemplate.
On my December 16, 2017 birthday, my anti-present was a phone call from my gynecologist confirming her fear that I do have uterine cancer. Talk about raining on your birthday cake! Damn! I already made my way through breast cancer in 2004. How could I possibly have another form of cancer?
A few days later I sat across from Christopher Lutman, MD, a gynecologic oncologist. He piled on the bad news with “The lab results indicate that you have a rare form of uterine cancer, uterine carcinosarcoma (UCS).”
We scheduled a total hysterectomy on January 9, 2018.
And so began this journey for not only me, but for Spouse, my daughters and others close to me. Everyone googled uterine carcinosarcoma, and the prognosis did not include rainbows and butterflies.
It didn’t take long for this cancer to metastasize.
A local medical oncologist gave me two years with treatment. I’m pretty sure I heard my daughter curse him and his negative point of view with a choice four-letter word. She made it clear that our next stop was the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix.
You can read that adventure at: War! My Battle with Uterine Carcinosarcoma.
Today I sit at my living room window where I’ve watched the seasons change for the last seven months. Nebulous hints of Spring slowly erase December and January’s deep winter moments. Later on today I’ll order bareroot native plants to fill a section of the view from this window. Yes, I’m planning refreshed gardens, along with adventures and hikes in the enchanted corners of New Mexico.
What? Did we kill the cancer with 14 months of chemo and surgery? No. But we have held it at bay and the metastasis is halted. My quality of life has improved since removing the bad boy mass that blocked my digestive system and sent me to the local emergency room four times between July and October with extended hospitalizations, to include an emergency air lift from Santa Fe to the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix.
The hope that immunotherapy could keep me kicking the can down the road pass the predictions found on Medmd, is a resounding no. These masses are so complex that there is “nothing on the shelf” for this cancer.
Well, hell! There is so little research on UCS, of course there’s “nothing on the shelf.” The approximate 1,000 women annually diagnosed with UCS paddle upstream for a cure.
I paddle on, however. My organs remain healthy. My blood work is perfect. All things that bring smiles to my medical team. On the other hand, this chemo can’t go on forever without damaging my heart. The other four masses haven’t reduced in size enough to warrant a safe surgery or pin-point radiation. In other words, surgery today would include removing my bladder. That’s not an option.
This leaves me with alternative or unconventional treatments, with the blessing of my medical oncologist.
I’ve begun deep healing via a shamanistic energy healer. With both breast and uterine cancers impacting my sexuality, there is an obvious connection that we seek to unblock. Thus far, she has taken me to a place I had thought I had already disentangled. But the web is so entangled that not until I realized a sense of unworthiness given to me by a parent, that I can now feel a release beginning within my inner self. Will this cure the cancer? Maybe not, but it can empower me to stay well and prove my worthiness. We all must cross over at some time, and it is good to clean house before then. I feel blessed with a warning to prepare for the inevitable, unlike those beloved who crossed over much too early in their lives and unexpectedly.
The local hospital that I’m receiving treatment through, staffs alternative healers. So I’ve restarted treatment with a Doctor of Oriental Medicine. Acupuncture and herbs are his prescription to treat inflammation and perhaps reduce some of the side effects of both the chemo and the cancer. And it has. That pleases me.
Dietary considerations are also a part of my alternative treatment. But I admit, my sweet tooth begs for love. And it’s that sweet tooth that we know can feed a cancer. My mantra is judicious bites.
The Champion Juicer gets a workout every other day as I experiment with combinations of veggies and fruits. Then there’s liquid lactobacillus acidophilus added to a drink. After a year of no food, except for my nightly IV feed of TPN, and the mounds of antibiotics dripped into my blood during the summer and fall hospitalizations, the healthy bacteria is a win for me.
Meditation and healing visualization keep me grounded and calm. As I cleanse my body, so does meditation cleanse my soul. After a good meditation (not every one of my meditations is a roaring success) I feel as if I just got out of the shower. Clean and slick.
The support of family and friends has kept me strong.
On the down side, I don’t make long range plans. Earlier in this journey, I planned bucket-list trips. That cost me both a financial loss and disappointment because this cancer is unpredictable and has made some of my dream trips impossible. Presently, I’m uncomfortable not being near my hospital and medical team. It’s a day-by-day planner now.
And I’ve aged. My jolly round face wrinkled and creased with each medical drama. Silly me. After all, I am in my seventh decade. What do I expect? It’s just that I’ve lived looking younger than my birthdays belie. Now my age is naked.
Blessings are mine every day. From the amazing caregiving by Spouse, visits with the grandkids, their mom and dad, and the birds that entertain me from where I sit.