Monday, August 18, 2014


My head, or my heart, or both, have been in increasing turmoil since my appointment with Dr. Medical Oncologist last week.  I think it is because, for arguably the first time in my entire cancer experience, the path forward is conflicted.  My treasured oncologist, Dr. Oncologist, thinks I should keep my breast (and thus my primary cancer, which certain science suggests will control my secondary cancer), while my Her2 expert, Dr. Medical Oncologist, thinks I should remove my breast (and thus remove the potential for future breast cancer, which we have learned I am prone to develop).  Neither oncologist is highly confident in their position.  They both suggested that I get the opinion of a surgeon, so tomorrow I will see Dr. Surgical Oncologist for her opinion.      

I have been barrelling through this cancer treatment on the notion that I will beat this breast cancer.  That is what I do.  I beat breast cancers.  However, the current oncological conflict has greatly reduced my confidence in my ability to fight cancer.  The two paths have transformed into a "damned if I do, damned if I don't" mentality: remove the breast, but feed the lung cancer! Or keep the breast, but develop another breast cancer in a year!  This negativity has been coursing through my veins, soaking my weak and defenseless brain day and night.         

The inner turmoil has been manifested as extra fatigue, distractedness, and unsettled guts.  At my sister's delightful baby shower on Saturday, I found myself thinking well, this could be my last baby shower.  I felt not sadness but bitterness, mostly about having to contend with these thoughts during what should have been an enjoyable family event.  Who needs these thoughts?  Also, any baby shower could be anyone's last baby shower.  Why has my own mortality, after so many months of much weaker days than these, come to the forefront this week? 

Today my children inadvertently kicked me while I'm down, as it were.  They were playing an imaginary game after school today.  One of them was the mom, and the other was the kid, and I wasn't paying that much attention to their play as I worked on the dishes.  All of a sudden one of them said, "...and then the mom died...".  I tuned in fast.  They argued for a bit about whether or not the mom actually needed to die, and one argument included the fact that she had to die in order for one of the players to turn back into a baby.  I was relieved that it was an abstract mom dying abstractly and not a real-ish mom dying of, say, cancer.  In the end the pretend mom did not die, the winning argument being that one of them could simply turn into the baby without the death of any pretend beings, and so I did not interrupt the game for a heart-to-heart on Moms and Death and the role Cancer could play in that.      

Is no corner of this life safe from my cancer life?  My eyes have been watering all month.  I thought it was allergies, but perhaps I have been quietly weeping, watering my soul garden.

I went to another restorative energy session today.  It was really lovely.  I told her about my turmoil.  She had so many snippets of wisdom, most of which were placed somewhere inside of me such that I can't recall them but they are still in there, guiding and supporting me.  One that I still remembered by the time I returned to my car, which is relevant because then I could dictate it to my iPhone and release my feeble brain from the responsibility of remembering, is to trust my center.  When I am feeling centered, do I think I should have a mastectomy or not?  Perhaps I should ask myself this question every day for a few days, listening to my body and detecting any fear in my inner voice.  I don't want the decision to come from a fearful place.  

I take this to be similar to a "gut feeling".  I can usually trust my gut feeling.  Today my gut feeling is to go for the mastectomy.  However, today I am also bitter and unsettled, as discussed above, so perhaps today's not a good day to query my guts.     

She also gave me a metaphor for the two paths forward.  She suggested that the oncologists are recommending that I travel to a National Park.  One oncologist wants me to go to Yosemite, and the other to the Grand Canyon.  It turns out that I haven't been to either park (perfect for the metaphor!), but neither would be the wrong choice (true statement!).  

This is what I need to start thinking about my cancer treatment options.  Neither is the wrong choice. That is so hard for me to say.  If I only had more data I'm sure that one of them would clearly be the wrong choice.  I desperately need more data.  Nope, there I go again, start over.  Neither choice is the wrong choice.  Whatever choice I make is the right choice.  Neither choice is the wrong choice  

I have strength.

I am strength.

I have peace.

I am peace.

And I have the ability to rest.  Let's go rest before tomorrow's data collection.  


  1. Beautiful and thought provoking metaphor. Hang in there, Heather - you are loved and have many people that are praying for you along this journey.

  2. I read this last night and just wanted to give you the biggest hug. You will do the right thing for you. Gather some more data sweetie.

  3. Thinking positive thoughts your way, Heather!

  4. This is so hard Heather. I am here for you. Six short hours. Please let me know what would be helpful following your surgery. Trust your choice! I love you! Love to Ian and the girls. xoxo