Birthday, Bowling, Beer & Buddies!

Monday is my birthday! I’ll be 49 years old. I LOVE my birthday. I always have. Scott has always teased me that I could squeeze at least a week out of birthday celebrations each year (sometimes longer). I love everything about having a birthday. I love the cake and the party and celebrating with my family and friends. I’m hardly shy, so I guess I enjoy being the center of attention for the day too. It’s just nice to think that we take the day to celebrate being given this life. It really is the greatest gift to receive. And of course, since my Stage IV diagnosis, my birthday is especially important to me and something to celebrate. I’m thrilled to be turning 49 – because, well frankly, it beats the alternative.
And this year, things seem to be looking up after a long Fall/Early Winter. It’s been rough emotionally the last few months because we’ve lost so many metsters recently. I don’t know if it is more than usual, but it felt like so many. And it was really hard to have people I know dying and realize that these are folks that have shared details about their lives with me. It’s been long enough since my diagnosis (25 months) that these aren’t faceless people in a crowd to me or others just sitting in an oncologist waiting room. These are people that have, through social media and at MBC events, shared their lives with me and the MBC community. They’ve reached out to ask for prayers and help, given support to our community members when we are struggling, shared their fears and their triumphs, advocated side by side for more research funding… it really brings it home and hits hard when we lose someone. I ask that you all keep these angels and those they left behind in your thoughts and prayers.

The last couple of months of 2015 were a bit bumpy for me with regard to my health as well – but things really are starting to look up (she types hesitantly knowing that it can turn on a dime). My tumor markers skyrocketed just before Christmas, making Dr. Shazam decide I should have a CT and a bone scan STAT (yes, I’m picking up all that technical medical jargon during my office visits). I was really tired and sore too. Fortunately, however, the scan results still show my cancer as stable. It’s so weird to get mixed messages from your tests and your body. So, while my cancer is not really asleep (as I’d like), it is also not progressing significantly. And I’m definitely feeling better now. I think I may have overdone things a bit, but I was so happy that we could host Christmas again this year and have everyone come for dinner and to celebrate with us.

I was finally kicked out of the clinical trial for the mouthwash that was allowing me to get my Afinitor medication (at $10,000 a pop) for free. It was a good run – 12 months, but I think having to go on and off of it so many times, and reducing the dosage to the lowest amount, just wasn’t giving the trial folks what they needed for good data. I thought it might mean a change in treatment, but Dr. Shazam feels the current protocol is still working for me, so we’re staying on the same treatment for now and just dealing with the bumps of going on and off the med as needed to keep my liver enzymes in check. The Clinical Nurse did check to see if there were other trials, but evidently my bone lesions are considered too small and “immeasurable” to garner usable data for the current trials she has on her list. There’s no way I’m going to complain about that!

So, now here I am – my last year of being in my 40’s. I remember thinking that sounded so old when I was a kid. And now that I’m here, I’m not freaked out at all about getting older. I have so many wonderful things to show for myself – a great family, good job, and wonderful friends. I actually am one lucky duck. 

And I am looking forward to my 50’s. I plan to see all 10 years of them and then some! I don’t know – maybe I should feel bitter and scared and cheated, but the truth is… I just don’t. I feel blessed and loved and happy… I understand why people feel bitter and angry, and I would never judge them or say they don’t deserve to cope with a MBC diagnosis however they need too. It’s a roller coaster ride and it’s not for me to say how others should feel. But for me – this birthday I will celebrate by bowling with some good friends while drinking pitchers of beer. I will blow out the candles on my cake and make a Moonshot wish – because I just want more and more of this life.