Okay, by D word I mean death. Even though this is something that none of us wants to EVER talk about, it is something that I need to talk about, and face the possibility that things can go wrong on this path called cancer. I am going to be as lighthearted about this as possible just because even for me this subject is tricky and scary.
First off, when I was diagnosed with cancer, one of the first things I thought was I have no will nor do I have a living will. In college I was forced to take physical activity and aging, and I actually studied this in-depth when it comes to elderly patients. I never thought I would use any of that particular information, so at the time, I didn't really give two shits. Funny how life works that way, am I right?
First, I am going to talk about living wills. All of you, young or old should have one. Anyone remember Terry Schiavo and how her case ended up being everyone's business? She had no living will, so her husband had to make the decision as to whether or not she should be taken off the feeding tube. Her mother and father wanted her to stay on the feeding tube to keep her alive, and filed several injunctions through the court to stop her husband from pulling the tube. In the end, her husband did pull the feeding tube out, and she ultimately died. This sparked a national interest in making sure your wishes are granted LEGALLY versus what she may or may not have told her husband. I am not going to go into details about my own opinion on this case, but it does bring up an important fact: just because you told your spouse what you wanted, doesn't mean the rest of your family will believe that said person. So, to protect my husband and myself, a living will is necessary for me now. So what exactly is a living will? In the case that I become unable to make decisions for myself, say, I am on a ventilator, a living will ensures that my wishes are followed through. So an example of this is that I am on a ventilator that is breathing for me, I may say well I don't want to stay like that forever, after 2 months please pull the plug and allow me to die in peace. Your living will ensures that no one in your family will fight about what THEY believe you want. Grief can do strange things - even though I know family members don't mean to do this, it is human nature to think more about yourself rather than the person suffering. I am not saying that "yeah you're family is selfish." What I AM saying is that they may not be thinking about what YOU want, but more of what THEY want - which is for you to stay alive. The hardest thing anyone has to do is let someone they love go and usually that is the last response for most. So for me, a living will is a necessary, especially now that I have cancer. I will be undergoing a lot of treatment and surgery, and I want to make sure that my wishes are met and that my family comes together rather than rip each other apart. The living will can also be considered as an Advanced Directive. A living will can be as detailed as you want it to be. You can say what standard of care you want, where you want to be, what hospital, how you want to be treated, I mean the list GOES ON. The best advice for anyone else facing a similar issue or if you yourself want a living will, think about EVERYTHING that goes into the healthcare system and how you want to be treated if the worst happens to you.
Now on to the WILL. Ugh, yes I said WILL. A will is tough because really at 31 years of age, it isn't like I have a big ass nest egg that I have to think about divvying up or a shitload of assets that I need to figure out what goes where. Now if you are over 60, YES your will is beyond important. The one thing a will does for me is it forces me to face my own mortality. It forces me to think, yes I can die from breast cancer, which is something that is hard to deal with when I am supposed to be at the peak of my life - thinking about having children (eventually). Due to cancer, this is something I can't exactly avoid at this point. Most of my actual WILL will entail how I would like to be treated after death - like whether I will be cremated (yes this is the route I will be taking just FYI) or buried. I will also have exact instructions on what to do with my ashes if the inevitable happens. Having a will is important because I have seen families fight over the smallest details in the event a loved one dies. As I stated above, we don't always think about what the deceased wants, it's human nature the think of what WE want - the living. What will make the LIVING feel better - not what the deceased really wanted after death.
This post is rather depressing, I know. I try to be as lighthearted as possible, but having cancer forces you to think about things that you never thought you would have to deal with until you turned 60 years old. I am 31 and I have to think things out and have everything legally binding to ensure my wishes are followed through on.
As far as my health is concerned - well - lets just say I still exercise as much as I can. I do have a lot of fatigue issues that I have to deal with. I usually take naps in the middle of the day so I can rest because sleeping at night is a struggle (and no this is NOT because I am taking naps, lol). Food is a tough one. My stomach cramps are beyond painful after eating, and the only food I can actually eat without getting sick is oatmeal. Crazy right? I have never been a huge oatmeal fan, but I am eating it all most 3x a day. I will be meeting with a Registered Dietician at UNLV in order to figure out the best meal plan to fit my needs as a cancer patient. I have breast pain on occasion and discomfort in the lymph area on the left side.
I had my MRI performed today with contrast, and lets just say it was EXTREMELY uncomfortable. Apparently, a man developed the prop used in MRI's to scan breast tissue and that thing is the most uncomfortable piece of garbage I have ever had to lie in. It is hard as a rock on the sternum and it looks absolutely ridiculous. I can tell you right now comfort was NOT the main focus when this thing was developed. They are also crazy expensive - up to $5,000 for an uncomfortable boob hanger. Anyhow, the MRI results should be in tomorrow and I will have a better idea to see if my cancer has spread to any other organs and areas of the body. The biggest focus being the lymph ducts and lungs. When breast cancer metastasizes it usually spreads to the lungs and lymph nodes as those are the nearby structures of the actual cancer itself. The MRI with contrast also shows the blood supply to the cancer. Remember high school biology and those things called capillaries? Well those capillaries are an exchange center for nutrients in the blood, so the capillaries are what feeds the cancer with nutrients for growth and replication.
I am posting a bit early just because tomorrow is SUPER BUSY (May 26). I have doctor's appointments all over the place and I have to pick up my imaging from several locations around Vegas, so I won't be posting anything tomorrow. Things are still slightly slow, now that the MRI is completed, I have to wait on my genetic test to see what my treatment plan will entail.
Okay guys, hug your family members, live for tomorrow, fight for today. Do what you love and fuck the consequences because Life is WAY too short for regrets. Much love and thank you all of reading my journey and thinking of me during a very difficult time in my life.
PS - a GO FUND me page may be added just because my treatment will more than likely take place in North Carolina. Vegas isn't the best place fore cancer treatment or treatment PERIOD. Example: a woman was pregnant here and she went into labor. Her normal OB/GYN was out of town as she was early and the on-call OB/GYN came in. It was caught on video him bragging about how many tequila shots he had at the Luxor casino, and the nurses laughed at this. He delivered a baby drunk and yes the baby did have complications after birth. Come to find out, this man had ALL KINDS of issues regarding his behavior with alcohol and had a shitload of malpractice suits against him. So - the decision for treatment here was sort of out of the question.
Have a great night guys.
UPDATE: we did set up a GoFund Me Account. To donate, Click BELOW: