Cancer Journal-Part 5

Dear Readers,

     Thank you for your patience.  Here is part 5 of my cancer story.

     October 20, 2003-Monday

     Today is the first day of my radiation treatment.  I haven’t written much lately.  I haven’t really thought much about the cancer.  As my radiation time approached, anxiety attacks started to hit me again, in the middle of the night especially.  My nice pink line on the side of my breast from my first surgery has changed into a deep sunken deformed line after the second surgery when the swelling finally subsided.

     None of that seems to matter much though.  Sitting in the waiting room prepped for my first radiation treatment, all I could see was panicky faces on all the other women.  Every patient brought another woman for moral support, but I mostly am alone.  I seem to be pushing people away, and making light of all this to my loved ones.  I don’t want pity.  I just want it to be over!  Numbness consumes me a lot and this past week, I let three family birthdays slip by almost meaninglessly.  I can feel all my PTSD symptoms are back and I have little patience for anything else going on around me.  CJ is all nervous about things going on in his life and I just don’t want to hear about any of it.  Why do I want to be alone so much?  I don’t understand that part of me!

     November 21, 2003-Friday

     Haven’t written for a month.  Last week was rough.  I’m four weeks into my radiation, with three weeks of treatments left to go (35 total).

     Last Saturday I started having real bad pain in my left chest area.  It worsened and traveled up to my neck and down my left arm and I couldn’t breathe.  CJ took me to the hospital and I was admitted to the Cardiac ward.

     I thought I was having a heart attack, the pain was so bad, but lots of tests later (CT scan, blood work, EKG, etc.) they discovered pneumonia and pleurisy.  After four days I was released with meds (antibiotics and codeine tylenol).  I couldn’t take the Tylenol 2.  It made me to shaky, so I took Ibuprofen and that helped a little.  It wasn’t until today, Friday the 21st, that I began to get some pain relief so I could breathe better.  For a whole week now, all I have done is lay in bed.  The pain is finally letting up a bit tonight.

     I prayed a lot last night for God to heal me and asked for prayer support from my sister Terri’s bible study group.  I can’t believe only 24 hours ago I couldn’t even lay down, the discomfort was so bad.  And, tonight I’m so improved.  It must be God!

     December 4, 2003-Thursday

     Today I was back to the doctor with bad chest pain again.  My primary care physician has watched me go back to my treatments and in five days, be back to the terrible pain I had in the hospital.  Each day the pain got progressively worse, since last Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.  Dr. P gave me powerful pain pills and told me to, "Hang in there!  Your only 10 treatments from being finished."

     I did great the first 20, but it’s been down hill since then.  Dr. P told me he totally believes this is radiation related, and the little air pockets in my lungs are inflamed causing all the pain.  My radiologist says no, but I’ve never had pleurisy or inflammation of the lungs before.  I have had bronchitis and pneumonia though.  Tomorrow is Friday and then I have a two-day break to rest up.  Then I only have two more full day treatments and then the last 7 are very quick and "Small field" (just on the tumor area itself) only.  I pray, "Please God, get me through this!"

     December 15, 2003-Monday

     My health has deteriorated even more.  After the last treatment, the Friday following Thanksgiving, on Saturday I ended up in the hospital again, by ambulance this time, with excruciating pain in my chest.  A blizzard made it difficult to get there and kept people away, but I was so ill I couldn’t breathe or tolerate the pain or company.  Constant vomiting of my meds made an IV the only way I could keep anything down.

     After 3 horrible days of tests, pain, vomiting, and no sleep, CJ came after work and I signed myself out of UMass hospital late Monday night at 9PM, with a diagnosis of fluid on my heart (congestive heart failure) and fluid on my left lung.  Steroids and massive doses of aspirin for inflammation were prescribed.  I left the hospital not able to tolerate another single test, and not even able to eat or drink or take meds without upchucking.  For the first time I began to feel like I was going to die!

                              Love in Christ,   Claire xoxo

Part 6, final- next week


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