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  • cathyhendrix

Wait! You have... CANCER???

Recently, someone with whom I interact fairly regularly was shocked to learn that I have

cancer and was diagnosed in 2020.

With algorithms (and blues), new friends, different platforms, it could have been easy to miss.

So I thought this might be a good time for a recap since I have some new news. I'll try to keep the history short and sweet.

In March 2020, during a routine mammogram, a very small lump was discovered. A lumpectomy was done and I was told, "all good, all clear, have a nice life."

Shortly after that, I saw my primary care doctor for another issue I was having. He thought it was an ulcer and sent me to have an endoscopy. Imagine my surprise (and his) when a biopsy revealed Stage 4 Metastatic Breast Cancer in my stomach. I knew I had been having difficulty eating and as such, lost a lot of weight but I really didn't expect that.

Into the spring of 2020, while everyone else was having Covid, I was having cancer treatments at Sarah Cannon in Nashville. These included blood transfusions for anemia, paracentesis (draining fluid) around my belly and lungs and visits every other week to Sarah Cannon. There were so many cranky hillbillies who refused to wear their masks; truthfully, I was more afraid of them than of the cancer treatment.

I didn't have drip chemo but I was taking the oral chemo pill, Xeloda. I got weaker and weaker and my dr. seemed okay with just doing the status quo. I had trouble getting up the stairs in my house and slept on the couch. I decided to trade in for a ranch/rambler... one story. But then I thought, if I have to move, I might as well go to Louisiana where I have family to help me out. I really didn't want to but in the interest of being prudent, I would.

I put my house on the market; it sold in about 15 days. Sarah and Mark came to help me pack the house and at the end of 2020, I was outta Nashville. And yes, I do miss it.

Early in 2021, I met my new oncologist, Dr. Q. He promised to be aggressive so I was confused when he took me off the chemo pill. He started treatment for me with hormonal therapy, many ads for which you will find on TV. With just a few months, I was making a great comeback. After all, I was very unwell (lost 80 lbs., lost muscle mass, couldn't do much of anything). Mostly, that treatment provided big results. Anytime something took a wrong turn, he changed my meds - but still not back to the oral chemo pill.

In 2021 and 2022, I was able to do stuff. I (along with Sarah and Mark) put some major elbow grease into my house. I could drive pretty much anywhere by myself. Sometimes I would overdo a bit but at least I was doing. 2023 has been the same. Until...

My lab work in September had some numbers Dr. Q. was not happy with. The PET scan showed a bit more activity than he was happy with (though he assured me I'm not "riddled with cancer"). He wanted to change my meds again but this hormone med has to be taken in conjunction with Xeloda - remember my old pal the oral chemo pill? I don't really remember having side effects but maybe I did. They look pretty gnarly.

While awaiting the pills from the specialty pharmacy, I experienced the fluid in my belly (which I had not had since early 2021). Dr. Q wanted to wait until I started the Xeloda but the fluid built up - a lot and very quickly.

I begged for some relief and he yielded to my request; I had the paracentesis (drain) - 6.2 litres of fluid. I no longer appear to be expecting triplets!

I will see Dr. Q. on Monday morning to have lab work and consult on starting the oral chemo. I'm already feeling pretty rough so please do that magical thinking of your choice and send good vibes my way. I appreciate you all and thank you kindly!

P.S. Once I start on the chemo pill, I really shouldn't be around many people. That means no Thursday Morning Karaoke at the Senior Center. I'll just have to YouTube Karaoke from my couch where everyone adores me. That is, Hermione adores me.

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You have always amazed me with your ability to keep on going no matter what you face, and this is surely the most disappointing card life has dealt you. Still you find time and energy to renovate and decorate your home, do for others, rock it at the old folks center during Karaoke and live a very full and interesting life. I wish I had more of what that determination you have always displayed when it comes to making life meaningful no matter what comes. A unique, loyal and caring friend, you have joined me on so many adventures, you are one of my very favorite people. You have all my best and most amazing thoughts every day. I…

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