I guess before I get to that, I should mention that it’s been quite awhile since I’ve posted here. Mainly because I’ve been out living but also because I’ve had trouble with sharing for awhile. I’m not sure why but I just haven’t been in the mood to talk about what’s going on and happening. Last October I went to Utah for some canoeing and camping with a great youth cancer organization called True North Treks. A week after I retuned from that trip I went home and surprised my family for my Grandfather’s birthday party. Was back in Cali for about 2 weeks and then headed to Maui with another fantastic youth cancer organization called Athletes for Cancer. I learned how to surf, or I should say I learned I’m not a good surfer. But I did come home with an awesome tattoo.
But since those trips I’ve had a hard time. I had many life stressers and I wasn’t dealing very well.
Which brings us to the New Year!
At the very end of December things were starting to look up. My stressers were working out and I felt like things were going in the right direction.
On the evening of Decemeber 28 I was feeling horrible. I had abdomen pain that wasn’t going away. I went into the ER and to make sure I didn’t have any blood clots, they did a CT scan. The ER doc came back to inform me that nothing had really changed from my last scan except for my lung nodules getting a bit larger.
She didn’t know I didn’t know the cancer had spread to my lungs. It was an akward moment we had. And I was extremely sad to hear the cancer had spread.
The ER visit ended up with me having gallbladder surgery.
A normal gallbladder removal is done laparoscopically in about an hour. Because I had so much scar tissue and liver issues etc., my surgery was open and took about 4 hours. I was in the hospital for a week and it was quite painful. Spent New Years in my hospital bed. Didn’t feel like a great way to start the New Year. I’ve been home from the hospital for 5 days now and I’m still recovering. Still have quite a bit of pain. I’ve been getting impatient and doing things I’m not supposed to yet and I really end up paying for it.
Now that we’ve been out of the hospital and my oncologist is back from his Christmas vacation, we finally got to have an appointment with him to talk about the lung mets. I had already put myself into a mindset that it was not going to be good news and to prepare to hear it. Even when you already prepare for the worst news, it’s never easy to hear it.
The news we got from him was about as bad as I thought.
I have basically run out of options.
Devastating news to hear.
He told me there’s really nothing they can do for the lungs. There’s chemo that I can try but in his opinion, he doesn’t think it will make any difference. They will finish the Y90 treatment in my liver, but after that there’s nothing else they have to treat my liver. And even if there were, he doesn’t think my liver could really handle anything more.
Chemo is not meant to be a long term solution. Most people are on it for about 6 months and their treatment is done. The fact that I’ve had 2 1/2 years of it is kinda crazy and it’s a lot for the body to handle.
We pressed him a bit about prognosis. He was rather candid and said that most people with my degree of disease of stage IV colon cancer don’t usually last past 2 years. I’m about to go into my 3rd year. He doesn’t feel that my organs, mainly my liver, will last much longer. He expects failure within this year.
I don’t know what to feel right now. Part of me is crushed, part of me is numb and there’s a part of me that’s just angry. It’s a lot to process and I’m guessing it will take me a bit to come out of the fog. I don’t know what my next steps will be. To be very honest, I’ve lost my fighting spirit right now.
I’m trying to find the hope inside of me. I’m pretty sure it’s still there somewhere. Because I know I can’t go on without it. I know the doctors have all given me a terrible prognosis before, but I do think it’s getting serious now. And I’m scared.
I’ve got a bit of recovering from this surgery to do yet. (And I know I need to stop overdoing it!) So I have the time now to sit with all of this and process it the best I can. Get some snuggles and healing touch from my furry friends. I’ve got some time to spend with my family and time to talk, message or text with far away family and friends. And I need it. Please don’t be weird or afraid to talk to me. It’s OK to talk about. I want to know about your feelings too. It all matters so much.
The one thing that has not changed and will not change is my love for family and friends.
So here’s to the New Year and to hoping this bumpy start is just that. A very bumpy start.
You don’t know me, but I’ve missed you. Missed reading your updates. I’m happy you have been traveling and living so much.
dearest heather: my first words are “dammit dammit dammit.” the next are “i love you.” i love that you can be so honest and open about what you’re going through and where your mind is at. you’ve been on an incredibly challenging and dynamic ride. what i do know is that you’re such a wonderful person, an excellent listener and cheerleader to others, and a bright light that gives other people living with cancer hope that life can be fulfilled. the listening and advice you gave to me on the Green River about my friend is precious and has helped so much, both for her and for me. i’ll be here with you no matter what. much love and paddling to you – xoxoxo
Dear Heather, You, MJ, the kids and the rest of your family are continually in my thoughts and heart. I pray for you regularly, but I too fail to be as diligent as I am called to be and for this I am sorry. I feel sad, angry and confused with you, but I acknowledge it is not to the same degree as you. You are my friend and if you need or want me to be your pastor I am available as you need. The offer for Revelation Church to give you a healing worship service is always open. We are happy to come to you if your home environment feels like the best location. Lorraine and I have talked and thought about you more recently as we venture into veganism. If you get a chance, watch the movie “Forks Over Knives”. I think it is on Netflix. It may provide the avenue to Hope you are seeking. Love and warmth to you and yours, Cheri
Heather my friend thank you for the post. It’s been clear to me from the day we met 3 years ago (it’s been that long!!) that your journey would be full of miracles, struggles, and crazy ass corners. I’m truly sorry this turn in the road looks as bleak as it does.
I know that you know the logic here. You still have days as a wife, and a mom, and a person: to live. Hope for me is a mix of determination, and faith. Determination to not give up a second before the choice is taken from you. Determination to get back up in those moments where you do fall – time and time again. Faith that every moment you spend with your friends, and family, your wife and kids, yourself in peace and joy — is nothing less than a miracle; a gift.
Too soon the choice will not be yours to make. Too soon the choices will be made for you. But today you get to choose to not let cancer win the moment. Today your here. Your still you. You still have great moments to live. Super happy, fun memories to make. Meals to share. Hugs to give.
Your spirit is gigantic. I have faith in you. Today cancer looses a battle – because your going to win. Everyone of us has a limited number of tomorrows. Most of us have no idea what that number is. For some reason the universe decided to make yours more apparent. I still have not decided if knowing is a blessing or a curse. I guess a bit of both. The reality is you know how, and why, and sorta when. Hope is that seed inside you that says eff off cancer. Today I win.
A few days ago on NPR they discussed the tragic death of ESPN sportscaster Stuart Scott who passed away after many years of battling cancer. He was 49 years old when he passed. 6 months ago he was awarded the Jimmy V award at the ESPYs and during his acceptance speech he spoke about his battle with cancer. He said, “When you die, it does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner in which you live.”
I hope you keep living your life as you have been. You can be an inspiration to those who are also facing terminal cancer at such a young age. I can never pretend to know what you’re going through but I hope you don’t feel defeated. I hope Scott’s words speak to you and my thoughts are with you on your journey.
I hope you find peace in the enormous amount of love you’re receiving from friends, family, and strangers. All I ever want for anyone is to live a fulfilled life, and it sounds like you are doing just that. Though I don’t know you, I will pray for you every time I pray, which I’ll admit isn’t all that often, but in hopes that a miracle will let you grace this world for as long as you are able. ❤
I’m sorry for this news. I want to say a million right things but none seem adequate. None fix it like I want to. So I will just say I think of you, and I am praying for you. ANd for MJ and the kids. ❤
“If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.”
― Amit Ray, Om Chanting and Meditation