One Singular Word.

Never in my wildest dreams did I expect the sound of just one singular word to be so pivotal to my sense of well being.  It’s been a wild ride, these last six months.  A left-field diagnosis that came with a nasty gene mutation I’d never heard of (gene mutation? Who the hell expects THAT to be on their medical radar?) It was so surreal to me, all I could think of was the same three words, over and over again:  I have WHAT?  (picture a deer staring into the headlights)    What?  (still a deer staring into the headlights)  I have WHAT?   (you’ve got the visual now, right?)

Because time was of the essence, I was immediately catapulted to a journey that took me from what I thought was a ‘more than acceptable’ and maybe even an ‘above average’ life of really great (albeit aging) health and plunked me down hard forcing me to face a future that statistically says my life is going to be substantially abbreviated… thanks to this mutant ninja gene mutation that moves at a very stealthy clip. In short: prognosis statistically is grim, and I know this because the internet tells me so.  The oncologist didn’t say it that way.  She said This is a disease that is best managed in the here and now.  Cleverly crafted phrasing that drove the message home.

BUT, statistics were garnered from studies of patients that didn’t include me, and from studies that weren’t from the here and now, but from the then, a.k.a. yesterday.  Diagnosed in the here and now, medical technology has advanced since yesterday, and miraculously produced some new extremely promising drugs.  They can’t CURE me, but they can sure tip the scales in my favor…maybe even buy me LOTS more time.  I’ll be on these drugs for the long haul, every three weeks by IV infusion.  They go after the gene itself, direct to the crime scene.  Bada bim, bada boom.

The round of chemo drugs I just finished go everywhere…they invade the whole damned community, killing everything they can in order to sleuth out the bad guys.  Well, they got my hair, and they are STILL killing my finger nails, and even the nerves in the bottom of my feet.  But in the grand scheme of things?  Who cares… it’s just hair.  Hair and finger nails will grow back eventually.  And, although incredibly annoying …well, all these side effects from nasty chemo are incredibly annoying, even numb feet are no big deal. No, really.  I can’t feel my toes or the balls of my feet, but hey; no biggie.  They’re just feet.  I can wobble around with the best of ’em.  There’s shoes for that problem, right?  Well, I’ll have to get back to you on that one.  But guaranteed, I’ll be back out there whacking golf balls if I have to use walking stilts to get around the course.  Mark my words!

The singular word that changed my sense of well being?  Nope, it wasn’t CANCER…that nasty six letter word only served to bring out my own stealth ninja instinct to kick cancer’s butt.  Cancer will NEVER define me.  It tried once before, eleven years ago when I endured multiple surgeries, each one with additional bad news until I finally forfeited body parts. I don’t need that stuff anyhow.  It’s just body parts, not major organs.  Unneeded body parts?  I’ll take my future, thank you.

So, then… you’re probably wondering what IS that singular word that’s become so pivotal to my sense of well being.  I just heard it today, actually.  It was joyously pronounced by my oncologist.  REMISSION.     REMISSION.  I am IN remission.  I am in FULL REMISSION.

As hubby and I were getting back into our car, preparing to head home to Marin County, I  had to ask.  Did she say I was in remission? Did she use that exact word?  Hubby happily confirmed what I already knew she’d said, exactly. She said I was IN REMISSION. She was smiling broadly when she said it and she’s not a smiler, normally.  She told me I’d ‘responded to the chemo extremely well.’

Actually, I simply showed up when scheduled, my Portia (to the newbies here, Portia is my chest port…she’s implanted, I HAD to give her a name) did her job channeling those creepy drugs from the IV drip bags directly into my heart and onward throughout the rest of my body.  I ‘responded’ the only way I know how to respond…mentally prepared and ready for the fight.  Throughout my lifetime, that example has been set for me time and time again. My peeps don’t mess around.

REMISSION.  Peculiarly hard to wrap my brain around that word…just like it’s been so hard to wrap my brain around this stinkin’ gene mutation that they tell me I have. I’ll always have it …lurking….and because of that, I will continue to go forward with those new breakthrough drugs, getting them via IV drip every three weeks as planned.  Portia and I will be a team for the long haul, or at least the foreseeable future.  But today? The shadow of ‘a fight to the death’ has been temporarily lifted.  My silver linings are glowing.  They’re almost blinding, in fact.   Damn.  It feels so good.

REMISSION.  Now THAT’S a great word.  A word to celebrate, to worship, to pray to God for.  I hope it stays glued to my medical chart for years to come.  Because I want to drive nails into that word, to ensure it NEVER leaves my medical chart.

CANCER, you will never define me.  Even if you prove those damned medical statistics out, you will NEVER define who I am.  My life, my ‘new normal’ will march onward because I keep my eyes on the horizon, I don’t look down, and I don’t give a crap what you’ve got up your sleeve.  I have an ARSENAL stockpiled; I’ve been blessed with a medical team that is truly outstanding, not to mention a host of friends and family who surround me with unending support, nurturing, and unequivocal love. I’ve got a hubby who continues to love me through every single moment, whether it be high or low or tearful or not. He is there with me every step of the way.

And finally, I’ve got the instinct of a ninja SURVIVOR.  I’ve been trained by the best of the best….I’m tellin’ ya.  Don’t be messing with me.  I GOT THIS.       And, now…if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a life to get back to.

Mount Burdell

17 thoughts on “One Singular Word.

  1. Words can’t get close to expressing my joy….I am just sitting here smiling….deep inside. A sister beat it….you bring us all continued hope. Sending you love and hugs …..yes, you need to get back to living, laughing, and dancing!!!! Judy

    • Life and Other Turbulence

      YOU are the EPITOME of inspiration!! I see the radiation oncologist tomorrow…to determine the next steps aside from my ongoing maintenance. I just started on an aromatase inhibitor as well. (I feel like there should be a lovely fragrance associated with each pill ☺). Being able to turn this page to a new chapter is so very uplifting! Sending you lots of love and hugs…I’ve marveled at your incredible adventures and wonderful photos this year posted to fb. YOU are A.M.A.Z.I.N.G!!! XOXO

  2. Way to go Ann!!! We knew you could beat it!!! XOXO The Ohio Gang

    • Life and Other Turbulence

      Thank you, Tom! Remission was a VERY welcome word to our ears! What ever the future holds going forward, it sure is good to turn the page to the next chapter now! Thank you for all your love and support, Ohio Gang! Sending big hugs back across the miles to you all. xoxo

  3. You have started my day with joy. Tears in my eyes, love and admiration in my heart. Gratitude to the-poweres-that be, to the medical profession, but most of all to the strength of will and character you have shown. You were right. You had this and you have this. You go, Remission Girl!

    • Life and Other Turbulence

      Aww, thanks ab!! On to the next steps (seeing radiation oncologist in the morning to find out if that’s still part of the game plan now). So happy to begin this new year on such an upbeat note…woo hoo!! Thanks for being such a great cheer leader…means so much to me. xoxo

  4. Remission!!! Yeah!!! Praise God!!! You are one tough woman! Keep roaring! I love you my friend:)

    • Life and Other Turbulence

      You and I go back a long way…and our friendship is so special to me! Sending big hugs to you and Ron, and to that new adorable puppykins as well! Thanks from the bottom of my heart for always being such a true friend. xoxo P.S. Keeping Christopher in our thoughts, always, hoping he remains safe.

  5. A fabulous word that couldn’t be more like music to the ears. Congratulations Ann ! This is a headline I could read over and over again.

    • Life and Other Turbulence

      Thanks Barry! I was priming my ears to hear really good news, but even so…it still took me by surprise. So happy to be starting this new year with a much brighter road ahead. Now I’m focused on getting my muscle strength back so I can keep up with that adorable redhead we both love and adore!

  6. WAY to really go , girl! So glad to hear this. So very glad to hear this. 🙂 Blessings.

    • Life and Other Turbulence

      Thank you so much! What a wild journey it’s been. Will be happy to refocus and get back to writing again more routinely (as soon as my finger nails are finally back on the road to health…chemo sure did a number on them!). Hope 2015 is a wonderful year for you…keep on writing! Looking forward to reading your memoir…

      • Good luck in the finger nail dept. I did not realize it kept you from writing. I would be so bummed if I could not write. I HAVE to write. 🙂

  7. Janet McKinley

    Ann, Congratulations!! We like the word “Remission” You are amazing, inspirational and an eternal optimist- all of these go so far in life. I hope to see you back on the golf course soon, with or without numb toes. I am so moved by your blog or even more so by your strength. Enjoy the life ahead!
    Janet (your hacker and whacker golf buddy)

    • Life and Other Turbulence

      Janet, I can’t WAIT to get back out there again with all of you. Got some new shoes the other day that should be suitable for golf (fingers crossed). Hoping to get out to the driving range soon to see how my swing has held up…probably it has disappeared completely, but that’s okay. Happy to re-start it all…love the friendships and outdoor time. Thank you so much for your support…I’ve been blessed with so much encouragement and love from both friends and family alike, who’ve literally just surrounded me with their never ending support. Looking forward to a new year ahead where we can all just enjoy some care-free laughter and fun together. See you out on the course very soon! xo

  8. Ear to ear grin, I am so happy for you. This is such good news!

    • Life and Other Turbulence

      Thanks so much, Pam! It was music to my ears…coming from a score that I’d never anticipated and still find completely surreal. EVENTUALLY this ‘new normal’ will simply feel ‘normal’…eventually 🙂

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