Some pretty major things have been going on with me since returning from our little jaunt down south. I wanted to write a nice, upbeat post all about the glories of the Chilean lake district, but sadly, news relating to cancer trumps witty banter surrounding the differences between American highway rest stops and Chilean ones, so I will stick to the blog´s original theme: my battle with the big C.
On Friday Jon and I sat down with Dr. Majlis to discuss the plan for my ongoing treatment. It turns out that there still needs to be discussion with MD Anderson in Houston as to the official plan (what was the point of our meeting, then?), but I was able to get a few important questions answered. The next step in my treatment is going to be surgery to remove what´s left of the original tumor. Luckily, as the size of the original tumor is very small compared to the monstrous blob that was growing there in September, it will not require a mastectomy. Apparently it will be a small, rather noninvasive procedure known as a lumpectomy. Dr. Buhler will be performing the surgery and originally we had talked about this taking place on February 12th. As far as radiation goes, they will need to do a pathology of the tumor following the surgery to determine if radiation is necessary. Dr. Majlis does not believe it will be needed, but we shall see. After the surgery I will then be put on my regimen of antibody drugs that I will receive every three weeks for the rest of my life. These drugs are meant to prevent further metastasis and keep the cancer at bay.
Many patients have lived 10, 15 years on these drugs, so we hope that I will have similar luck. As far as side effects of the anti-bodies, there don´t seem to be many. My hair will grow back, I won´t need the anti nausea medicine, and I will be allowed to return to my normal life. I am allowed to begin exercising again, although I will need to consult a traumatologist concerning contact sports such as soccer. All in all: pretty much the most positive diagnosis we could have expectedJ
But, as with most things in life, good news is often followed by bad news. Upon returning from our vacation I received the news that the school has chosen not to renew my contract for the upcoming school year. This decision is unfortunate for many reasons. Jon and I love Santiago and consider it home. We had hoped to put down roots here and stay for many more years. Also, just when I had decided that I truly enjoy teaching and am, indeed, a positive influence in my students lives, I no longer have the option of teaching. (At least not next year….) This news has been hard to swallow. So many things about my life for the past six months have been out of my control. Jon and I have been forced aboard a vicious and never-ending rollercoaster that thrashes and tosses us at each turn. We have been left to simply hold on for dear life as the car runs wild. A few weeks ago we thought we had reached a nice, restful peak only to be plunged again into uncertainty. My spirit and faith in humanity has been tested, that is for sure. But since I refuse to give up and bury my head in a hole for a year, it´s time to come up with plans b, c, and d. Jon and I can survive on one salary and if I need to make money I´m sure I can find things here in Santiago to earn some cash. I´ve always wanted to do something in the humanitarian realm, so perhaps this is my opportunity. There are people in need all over the world, and especially now, I truly want to do something good with my life. Cooking and traveling have always been passions of mine, so maybe I can incorporate some of those skills into a new profession. Maybe I can take time out to write the novel that some have encouraged me to pursue. The scary but comforting thing is that the possibilities are endless. I know it´s not going to be easy, as the perfect job is not going to magically fall into my lap. I expect many more tears, difficult conversations, and moments of self-doubt. But Fuck it! Onwards and upwards! If you have any suggestions for my future path, I´m all ears. Until then, my sister is in town and we are off to Buenos Aires next week to dance the tango and celebrate life.
I leave you with an uplifting 80´s video. Thank god for the 80´s: a song for every occasion… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8XxBbcrs5KY