Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Today was Today

WOW!  HOLY SHIT!  AH-MAZING!  WHOOP WHOOP (air fist pump and roll)!

These are the exclamations of only a few of the countless messages we have received today regarding our appearance on the Today Show this morning.  Okay, maybe not the whoop whoop, but do it and tell me it doesn't make you laugh if only on the inside.

Nathan and I are once again overwhelmed with gratitude and humbled by the kindness and support you have all sent us today.  Whether it was a Facebook message, blog comment, email, text or voicemail, your heartfelt "voices" (ah...the digital world) has lifted our spirits even higher.  Actually, we did have face time with actual human beings live and in person.

Nathan definitely had the most unexpected interaction.  After the show, he headed directly to Sloan-Kettering for his pre-surgical appointments.  When he walked in, Nick, the happiest man in the world and greeter at the cancer center, gave him a huge hug and congratulated him.  Apparently, the Today Show had been on the television in the downstairs lobby.  Patients and caregivers were watching and, according to Nick,  many of them were whispering to one another that they thought they had seen him (Nathan) at Sloan.  Tears streamed down their faces as they exchanged expressions of joy and hope.  As for Sadie and me, it was an extra special welcome with many warm embraces and congratulations when we arrived at her school's holiday party. What a truly magical day!  Again, we thank you.

Many of the messages we received have been stories of triumphant battles against cancer.  Unfortunately, there have been others for whom the battle continues and are looking for my "secret to success."  I must remind everyone that this is a moment of celebration but we continue to keep our eyes on the prize.  My battle also continues.  This is as "successful" as I can be at this particular moment in time.  My doctors are thrilled, however, they aren't slapping me on the back and sending me off in to the sunset.  We/they are just relieved that the news of the recent metastasis to the brain will not be the final chapter of my story.

So why this sudden plot twist?  If I could answer that, I would also have the answer as to why Nathan and I received dual diagnoses of cancer within less than two weeks of one another.  I mean WTF!  Let's not forget the past year of multiple WTFs.  I have done everything in my power to beat the shit out of this unwelcome guest in my body and that must have made a difference. I was lucky enough to have had access to the best doctors and nurses at NYU, a world-class institution.  I took hardcore anti-cancer drugs.  I had acupuncture.  I had therapy sessions with my social worker and psychiatrist.  I took anti-depressants.  I did yoga.  I received Reiki.  I worked with intuitive healers.  I ate well.  I meditated. I prayed.  I laughed as often as possible...thank you very much Modern Family.  I learned to rest.  I learned to depend on others. I looked into Nathan and Sadie's eyes everyday. And, I allowed myself to humbly accept more love and goodwill into my heart and soul than I thought possible for any human being.  Nathan did much of the same.  I will continue to do all of the above.

I realize there are folks who do or have done all of the above but not achieved the results they hoped or are hoping for and I don't know why.  Is it a cop out to say shit happens?  I can honestly tell you that's exactly what I said to myself at the beginning of this journey.  I never asked, why us?  I wondered, how us?  How was this happening to my husband?  How was it happening to me?  How could it possibly be happening to both of us at the same time?  The only answer I could come up with was...shit happens or... it's a shit show or...what a shit storm or...the shit's hit the fan or my personal favorite... fuck, fuck, this is fucking bullshit. Have I made my point?  I don't have a damn clue as to the why but cursing makes me feel better. Try it, you might like it.

We've established I don't know shit but are there any words of encouragement I can impart?  Probably but I am sure you have heard them all before and they sound trite.  Yes, there may be truth to them but how often can you hear, "Just stay positive" before simultaneously rolling your eyes and sticking your fingers down your throat.

My eyes are beginning to shut and today has now become tomorrow.  I will sign off, crash and hope that the answers come to me in my dreams.

Good night and good luck!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Not much upstairs with that one

Thanks to all of you for the well wishes since I shared our wonderful/remarkable/miraculous news. I sat here crying as I read all your comments. It fills our hearts to know there are so many folks pulling for us from all around the world.

So...are you ready for some more good news? I met with Dr. Narayana last Monday. Yes, yes. I should have written last week but give a girl a break. I still have Sadie, Nathan and Griffin to care for. Oh, and there was the Z100 Jingle Ball concert to attend. Huh, Jingle Ball? For New Yorkers, you know what I mean. For everyone else, I'll explain later.

Back to Narayana. He reviewed my now infamous brain MRI. All the lesions were gone. But what about the last one on the left parietal lobe, you ask. Glad to know you're following the storyline. I asked the very same question.
ME: Didn't it grow .5cm?
Narayana: Nope.
Me: Huh? Wait...what are you saying?
Narayana: That lesion didn't grow at all. There was only .5cm LEFT and it was just the slow poke of the group. They all "disintegrate" at different paces.
My rendition of Narayana's explanation: You and I are driving along the autobahn. I hit the gas and leave you in the dust. Yes, my driving fantasies are shifting back in to gear. Zoom, zoom. So we're driving and, although we're on the same highway moving in the same direction, one of us (me) is burning rubber while you are out for a Sunday drive, if that's even possible on the autobahn. Disclaimer: I have never driven on the autobahn nor been a passenger in a car on the autobahn. However, it's the highway everyone refers to when talking about really fast driving, so I figure I can use it, too.
That's what's going on with that very last lesion. It's disappearing but at a slower rate than the other ones. It should be gone any day now.
YOU: What did you just say?
ME: this very moment, I have NO active cancer in my body. Not one tiny minuscule in any part of my body.

I now claim the title of World Champion Cancer Asskicker. And if ANY challengers want to step up, I will crush you. Uh...I mean, I'm talking about the cancer, not you you. Okay, so maybe I am taking this a little too far, but I do feel like a badass right now. I know I didn't do it alone, but I have the urge to take a victory lap or indulge in a touchdown celebration dance. Not to mention that "Goooooooal" keeps ringing in my ears. Too bad I don't have any brain cancer left. I could blame these thoughts of grandeur on that, but hey, I never was a shrinking violet.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Cat's Out of the Bag

Well, only a truly relieved mother could use a megaphone to shout from the rooftops when news is this good. Or a mass email! If you received an emafandom my mother before I had the chance to personally call you, I apologize. She totally blew up my spot. Email is a dangerous means of communication in the wrong hands (just kidding). But, again, only a mother in her deepest moment of gratitude would rush to tell the whole word.

So...what's the news already? Christmas has come early to the Bond family. On Thursday, I got the final results from my PET scan and brain MRI, for which the insurance company DID pay. The brain MRI showed one original lesion had grown .5 cm but all the others were gone and there were no new lesions. I still have to speak with my radiation oncologist, Dr. Narayana, on Monday to find out how we will handle the remaing lesion but it is considered rather insignificant. Here's the really big news...da da da da-there are NO signs of active cancer anywhere else in my body. The breasts, the bones and the liver are all clear!!!! In a year of unending shitty news, this is beyond what any of us could have dreamed. A real Christmas miracle! Feel free to break open the champagne. We all deserve it because I wouldn't have gotten to this point without all of you behind us and beside us.

Now not to put a damper on this fabulous news beacause we all want to bask in the glory of it, but the fight is not over. Please remember that I have Stage IV cancer. There is NO remission, but I can be classified as N.E.D (no evidence of disease). In the meantime, we must continue to pray, meditate, send out good vibes and keep our fingers crossed. My prognosis doesn't change yet. However, with each scan that comes back positively, we have more and more reason to be hopeful that this story will have a happy ending...50 years from now.

You may be asking what are the practical implications of this development. Dr. Volm, the best doctor I have ever known, suggests we stay the course. I am totally cool with that. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. I will continue my current protocol of chemo drugs and Herceptin. The only difference is that he will be open to me "taking short breaks" if I want to travel.

We will continue to blog about our family and health because there is still so much to come. For instance, Nathan did come home from the hospital on Wednesday. Ultimately, the doctors changed their diagnosis. All the bacterial blood cultures came back negative so their best guess was that it was a severe case of gastroenteritis. Of course, it's a rather difficult virus to deal with as he is missing a major part of his intestines and has an ileostomy. Slowly, he has begun to recover. Obviously, the surgeon advised him not to travel so our Puerto Rico trip was canceled. However, with all the good news, we'll take the trade off. Plus my dear friend, Marcos, has insisted we make the trip as soon as we all are well.

Nathan is scheduled to have his reconnection surgery the first week of January. We are looking forward to thoroughly enjoying this holiday season. With the good news and knowing that Sadie will really appreciate all the festivities around Christmas (at least the presents part), it will be the best Christmas and New Years ever.

Oops...I almost forgot the cherry on top. I have my driving privileges back! I was almost happier about that than the scan results. For those of you who know me, you know I am not kidding. Nathan says I'm like a 16 year old with her new drivers license, looking for any excuse to drive. Anyone need a lift?