Can’t believe a month has flown by and we’ve gone from a beautiful fall into a hard, cold winter. Boom! After seeing the cardiologist and numerous tests on my heart we figured out a few things. First, I have a strong, healthy heart. Second, the Xeloda drug was causing the arteries of my heart to spasm and giving me angina. I was also experiencing headaches and dizziness which I thought was going to win me a trip to the MRI and a brain scan, but fortunately all of the symptoms went away when I stopped the drug. I also learned a lesson about my self. I tend to minimize any symptoms I have and was forcing Becky to still go on walks with me despite the “heartburn” Thankfully, she still loves me.
So the good news, bad news is I’m fine, but it also means I’ve blown through a treatment option. Next up is the Afinitor/Aromasin combo. Another oral chemo. This one packs a heftier price tag however. $12,000 a month. Yep, $400 a pill. Thank goodness for insurance. Did you see the 60 Minutes segment on the high cost of cancer drugs? Hit home for me. It does make me evaluate how much good I’m putting into the world each day. I say that a little tongue in cheek. I know I’m worth much more than my meds.
Which brings me to compassion. It’s pretty easy to look at me and think everything is great in my world. No one would know that I have a less than 25% chance of living 5 years, that my spine is covered in tumors and I have a few more in my leg. I’m fortunate in that I have a high pain tolerance, and really, if I’m good in what I do I can manage my pain. Fatigue is another invisible thing. Sometimes I’m just wiped, lower than that actually, but you wouldn’t really know it by looking at me. I keep exercising because my doctor’s say that’s better than anything. Even though some days I almost break down on the machines because that’s where I feel what I’ve lost more than most places. I’m officially a wimp, but a stubborn one. I realize how invisible what I’m going through can look to people who don’t know me. Even to people who do know me, really. It got me to thinking about other people I see out and about everyday. At school, at the grocery store, cutting in front of you on the freeway. We know nothing about their stories and what they may be dealing with. I’ve learned that whenever I give a talk about my story to always assume there is someone in the room who is dealing with more. We all have our stories.
It might not be as life threatening, or maybe as large, but to that person it’s everything. We sometimes minimize our own worth and the value of our feelings and emotions. We downplay them and say “we’re fine” when we are really too afraid to reach out. So the next time you see that crabby person, or the dour looking one, or the tired one think about the story that might be there, invisible and in the background and offer a smile, or just a silent word of compassion. We’re all human and it’s our connections that make us so. Remember, we all have hard things, together is what gets us through them.