The Narrow

Still exhausted and weak but now capable of being vertical for short periods. Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you — your words carried me and comforted me.  As did my mother, my dearest friends, my family, and my incredibly incredible husband.  Everyone managed to hold me together, distract Georgia, feed and water me (despite my protests), prop me up, tuck me in and generally get me through.  Their care and your messages reached me through the fog of fear and pain and reminded me that when I fall I can stay down for a while.  And then I can come back up swinging. I’m not lacing up my boxing gloves just yet, but at least I’m eyeing the ring again.

My husband on the other hand seems to be in full swing.  Today he woke up and left the house early for an unscheduled confab with my oncologist.  By 10:30 I was having a CT scan of my brain, by noon, bloodwork, and a couple hours later, chemo. It’s the one we were holding in reserve, vinorelbine, and my oncologist made special arrangements to get it administered today so that I can still go to Detroit tomorrow.  And I am going to Detroit tomorrow, oh yes I am. If I have to be carried into the car and out again at the other end, I’m going.

My uncooperative and obstinate cancer may not respond to this chemo — given its history of response to standard treatments — but then again, it may. Even if it slows down just a little bit, it will be worth it.

This chemo may also get me disqualified from the Detroit study, but then again, it may not. My family, my oncologist and I all agreed that we have to take that chance; I simply can’t go another 5 weeks without trying some kind of treatment.  Some kind of something.

So, even though I am typing this with one hand and only one eye open while lying down in a vegetal state with an excruciating, pounding headache, I am actually feeling better.  All is not lost.  There is action, so there is hope. 

And best of all? The CT scan showed that my brain is CLEAR!!!  I was warned not to get too excited since an MRI will be required to be sure that there is nothing evil lurking in the neuro-spaghetti, and of course those pesky “auras” and headaches still need to be explained… but don’t get too excited about a clear brain scan??? That’s a tall order, given the shortage of good news around here.  How about just being incredibly relieved and grateful that today at least I don’t have to reckon with cancer in my brain.  Today, and maybe a few more days.  Maybe lots more days.

Yes, I can hope, and I try to.  But yesterday I met with my cancer shrink whose horrific job it was to tell me that I also need to recognize that this cancer is crashing through every obstacle we put in its way, and the reality is that maybe nothing — no treatments or trials or anything we can throw at at it — will stop it from killing me.  My amazing cancer shrink who by the way I truly believe is one of those rare people who is doing what he was put on this earth to do (he really is that good at it.) Unfortunately this is what he was put on the earth to say to me yesterday.  

Not that I hadn’t already recognized it and begun to wrestle with it on my own, and with my family and friends.  But when your shrink tells it to you… ouch.  Holy Moses, it’s real.  It’s moments like those that you realize this isn’t one of those nightmares you get to wake up from. It’s moments like those when the world freezes and you feel like you have just glimpsed the way the whole thing works but it doesn’t matter anyway because all you want to do is love the people you love and live the life you love living… except maybe you won’t get to do that anymore. 

What do you do at a moment like that?  I just cried big fat gigantic splashing tears, and when they slowed down enough that I could look him in the eye I said, “My god. I’d really f**king hate to have your job right now.”

So this is where I am.  This is where my family and I have to live right now: on this razor’s edge, this impossibly narrow place right smack between the terrifying reality that perhaps nothing can stop me from dying from this cancer, and the slim shiny hope of a clear brain scan and a meeting in Detroit.

And so far, the only way I have found to stay sane while living in this narrow place is to say it to myself every day, several times a day, and many times throughout the night: 

but what if it works?



Filed under Living with Breast Cancer

25 responses to “The Narrow

  1. diane

    I’ve been haunting this site for two days and was so relieved to see a posting, I shrieked! We’ll be sending all of our energy to Detroit with you.
    Love Diane

  2. Doona

    Woohooo!!!!!!!!!!! Yess!!! That’s all I can say while I send some gentle messages to you from the Universe. You go, girl!!

  3. lulubelle

    BUT WHAT IF IT WORKS!!!! I will be with you in spirit as you go to Detroit! I am willing you all of my strength for the journey and as always I am sending you our love and lots of #!$@# cancer kicking thoughts too. You are, and always have been amazing, I love you cuz!!!!

  4. Lejla H.

    I’m gonna copy Diane and Donna in nodding to everything they said!!! So glad to see you better!!!! Also, it is a great news indeed that the brain is clear!

    I hate shrinks, no matter how cool they are. There is just something deliberately clinical in the way they portray life.

    And life, as we all know, is waaaaay more poetic than that!

    I don’t really care how smart they are, or how terribly realistic. Realistic is good, but then again,I will tell you something that your shrink maybe forgot to tell you: NOBODY IS GONNA BE SPARED!!!! Not me, not the shrink, not anybody reading this. I do find comfort in that…..and, what’s also important, the beauty of life is that nobody really knows when the party is going to end!!!

    So, this authority of “shrinkage” (i.e. psychiatry)and oncology statistics is great, but then, the authority of Nature is greater and that IS the only true authority.

    So I say to you, my dear religionless friend (in a good ol’ Sunday-TV-Evangelist-worship-miracle / Robin Williams / good-natured southern accent – message): REJOICE!!!!! REJOICE IN THE POSITIVE NEWS ABOUT THE BRAIN SCAN!!!!! REJOICE IN VINORELBINE!!PRAISE THE LAWD!!!! :)))))))

    Try to get enough rest for Detroit

    Thinking of you,

    all of us here:)

  5. Sue

    I, too, have been a silent follower of yours for months Leanne since reading about you prior to TWTEBC 2009, praying every day for you and admiring your courage and drive and determination and tenderness from afar. You are my hero Leanne. You never cease to amaze me. I have checked in here 7 times today to quietly hope that your day started with sunshine and love. Looks like it has! Our home has been filled with lots of ‘WOOHOOS’ tonight!!! Stay strong and get ready for Thursday!!! YOU CAN DO THIS!!!!!!! Rest for the next day or so with every positive, happy, warm and caring thought from afar. You are going to be absolutely fabulous!!!!!!!!

  6. Gillian

    There she is!!!!!

    Sending you a TON of love and a TON of strength for your journey.

  7. Aunty Carol

    Safe travels. I can truly feel the concern and support from all your readers. We are united in our love for you and you take our hearts with you on your journey.


  8. Gwen

    I too have been haunting your Blog site today and I was S0 relieved to see your posting, and to know that the CT scan of the brain was clear. Good for your husband, riding off on his metaphorical white charger and getting things moving. VINO-relbine, eh? I can’t help thinking that with a name like that, the drug has to have a cheering and happy effect! I shall be thinking of you tomorrow, directing positive thoughts towards you and your family, and hoping to hear good news from you whenever you are able to Blog next.

  9. Carol W.

    There’s a whole battalion of people out here who’ve been holding their breath for days now. So glad to hear that you’re feeling a bit better.

    After you used the word “moxie” the other day to describe the oncologist in Detroit I became curious about its definition. Here’s what I found with the help of Google:

    mox•ie n. Slang
    1. The ability to face difficulty with spirit and courage.
    2. Grit, pluck, perseverance, guts, gumption
    3. Energy, spunk, spirit
    4. Fortitude and determination
    5. You have Herpes (which was originally called Moxygoshthisitchesherpes but was shortened to just Herpes in the mid-60’s)

    You, Leanne, have moxie (excluding Herpes, of course)! Good luck in motor city. We’re all pulling for you.

    xo Carol

    P.S. Sorry about #5 but it really popped up and it made me giggle so I had to leave it in 🙂 xo

  10. Mary Lou

    Great news, I have also been checking you blog today. Rest well tonight and tomorrow so that you will have a good journey on Thursday. I loved Carol W. found definitions of “moxie” Number 5 is funny in a sick sort of way.

    Take care, and as always my strength and thougths go out to you.

    Mary Lou

  11. momof3

    I too have been waiting to see you back online and happy to have found you here! Great news about your noggin’! – Don’t migraines come with auras at times?

    You are so blessed to have such wonderful friends, family and what a hubby!

    I wish you a safe and successful trip to Detroit, and I wish you peace.

    We’re all rooting for you, going with you, praying for you and sending positive vibes. – It’s a loooonnng razor’s edge, ’cause we’re all there with you!

  12. Lisa B.

    Leanne – going to rally every bit of karma I’ve got and can find and get from others to send your way — for tomorrow and for the next little while too. And I’m THRILLED that the CT scan was clear, but I’m also as glad you have the cancer shrink as I am at those results and that you have the potential trial. He sounds amazing and, hell, he’s obviously doing great work.

  13. Tara Shields

    Lisa Bednarski (a dear friend and colleague) put me in touch with you. I am now following your journey and am learning from your strength. I am sending only good thoughts and karma your way. You are a strong woman.

  14. Katie

    So glad to hear your voice calling out clear & strong from that sliver of light you’ve found in the darkness. What if it works? Damn right.

  15. Sarah Milke

    Hello Dear Leanne, I have been following your journey for some time now
    and this morning was thrilled to know that the CT scan was clear! This is a big deal! Over time I have recruited a squadron of bold audacious angels to hang with you. They are tiny but mighty. They will be around you no matter what. Miracles happen to those who believe in things they cannot see. My thoughts and prayers are with you. Sarah Milke

  16. Celia McBride

    Let us all affirm together in the positive and change the pathways of the neuro-spaghetti: It will work. It is working. The cancer is just gone. It will work. It is working. The cancer is just gone. It will work. It is working. The cancer is just gone. Every waking moment say it loud and say it proud. It will work. It is working. The cancer is JUST GONE.

  17. Katie

    You’re amazing, Leanne…your courage, your fight and your words continue to move me so, so much. You’re in my thoughts and prayers.

  18. Laura

    Leanne, I am thrilled to hear the brain scan is clear. I also want to say I am sorry that you had to have that moment with your shrink. I think to some degree, there are moments in all of our lives where that quiet, little voice wonders, well, what if I’m not here? what will happen to the people I love and who love me back? To have to seriously contemplate that question within the context it was given to you must have nearly destroyed you. But it didn’t. You come back on here and share with us your courage and your strength and your fierce love for your family and friends and we’re all amazed. We’re all rooting for you and I am delighted to hear your husband got the ball rolling again. Thank you for being brave enough to take us all along on your journey with you. You are incredible.

  19. iliya

    Leanne, our family wishes you the best of luck.


  20. Julie I

    Hi Leanne,
    We dont know each other but I have been following your blog. I was SO SO thrilled to see your recent post. I am not even entirely sure what to say, other than you are an inspiration to everyone. You sound so strong and courageous and I am in awe. PLEASE be well and good luck in Detroit. You have tons of people thnking of you and sending you love and wishing you the best. I know you can hear us.

  21. Kelly Simon-Batters

    Hi Leanne, A friend put me in touch with your blog and I have been reading it and following along. I am amazed at your strength you show each and every time you blog. Cancer sucks!!! I wish and I pray that you get the chance to say ” it worked “. Best of luck in Detroit!! May all of the good karma go with you on your trip, Kelly

  22. Tess

    Dear Leanne,
    Thinking of you today and sending you all the good energy I can to help you through the day. I just read your blog again and am in awe of your ability to express what you are experiencing. I can hardly wait to read about the day you blog about when the cancer was just gone.
    Peace and Love,

  23. Pat Bent

    Hi Leanne
    Mo and I send all our prayers and love with you to Detoit your strength is an inspiration to all of us
    Hugs to you and your family and a big hug for your Mom


  24. Jenn T

    Hey Leanne,
    I am so happy to hear that the scan was clear. I am still to this day amazed at your courage! We are sending you all the love, support and karma your way. You truly are an inspiration to all of us who know you and follow your blog. I hope all went well in Detroit.

    Keep remembering, “but what if it works?”


  25. Dave Jones

    Kick this thing’s ass. Seriously.

    I’m listening to Pearl Jam’s epic “Amongst The Waves” as I write this. Purely coincidence. But that song always makes me feel hopeful. Give it a listen. It’ll help you kick this things ass!


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