One year today

It was one year ago – today (figuratively speaking) when my world was turned upside down.  I remember the blood rushing from my head, the feeling of nausea, and words spinning so frantically that nothing was audible.  Well, almost nothing.  I do recall quite clearly Dr. Dodge’s, my gynecology oncologist, proclamation, “You have cancer”.  I do recall, also, “It is extensive.”  Then, “bla- bla-bla”, followed by, “But I can help you.”

When I think back to that morning, one year ago today, I get a very clear vision of Kevin and I sitting in that room at the Royal Victoria Hospital as though we are all in a play – and I am currently a spectator.  The scene is frozen in time like a snap shot.  No one is moving.  It’s like we are all paralyzed.  The door is closed.  Dr. Dodge is leaning in towards Kevin and I while perched on the edge of his stool.  Dr. Singh, my chemo-therapist, is sitting beside him with her head down as though she doesn’t want to make eye-contact lest the bad news were to be made worse.  Standing beside her, but just slightly behind, is Candy – my nurse.  They all watch Kevin and I.  We are holding hands.  I am in disbelief.  I have no idea what Kevin looks like.  The mood is somber.  The lights are dim.  We are all engaged in this very intimate moment of what seems to be “life and death”.  Yes.  We are all frozen. The only movement that I recall is when Dr. Dodge folds his hands together in front of him – fingers entwined with one another, leans forward, and speaks.  I know there were white coats.  I know there were eyes – all looking at me.  What were they thinking they would see?  What were they prepared to do?  How did they think we would respond?  I wonder.

I really don’t remember leaving.  Sometimes I think we stayed there forever.  Certainly the fear I felt left an indelible tattoo on my soul.  It changed me.  I was smeared.  I was derailed.  I was disabled.  I was human.

How is it possible that that day should ever be considered to be nothing less than horrific?  Yet, here I am, here we are, one year later and I consider that day to be the turning point for my new life.  I was given the news that I had Stage 4 ovarian cancer, yet it was that very “news” that saved me.  I had been living, blissfully unaware that that disease was quietly and slowly suffocating the life right out from underneath me.  Today – I consider that day, today – one year ago – to be nothing less than a miracle.

Somehow, Kevin got us home.  I suspect we drove.  We had to – I simply remember nothing of that exodus from the hospital.  I do remember wondering how we would tell the kids.  I do remember Kevin asking if we may want to decide on a strategy before we went home.  All I wanted to do was to get home as if things would normalize, settle down, become safer when we got home.

Of course, Kevin’s mom was the first to hear the news as she was standing in the kitchen.  I don’t remember what happened.  I don’t remember what we said.  I do remember the tears and the hug.  I do remember when Katya burst through the door and screamed, no, accused me of having cancer.  She had seen the cars home in the middle of the afternoon and knew of the appointment.  “You have cancer!  Don’t you!!  It’s cancer!  Isn’t it!”  Her words cut through my soul and left me bleeding.  I ached for her.  I ached for me – I ached for my family, my friends.  How could I do this to them?  I was so, so, so sorry.  Our lives were about to change – and it was like it was my fault.  I was to blame for their forthcoming pain.

Eventually, Kevin and I shared the news with our eldest boy, Ben.  It was almost unfair to call him when he was so far away from home. He had just left to begin his school year at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay – 16 hours away from home!  I don’t remember the conversation – I think I was numb.  I was so riddled with guilt as  though it was my fault that I had allowed the cancer to grow.  We told our youngest boy, David, when he came home from school.  Again – I have no memory.  I think I was spent by then.  In fact, the rest of the day doesn’t exist in my memory.  I have nothing.  I have nothing – until I remember laying in bed that night wondering what the hell happened?  “Is this what it feels like to die?  What do I do next?”  I was awake most of the night wondering if I would ever sleep again.

One year ago today, my world was flipped, shattered, broken.

Today, I thank God for that day.  From those pieces I have built a life that is rich with family, friends, and the love we share.  Today, I have a life for which I am grateful.  I see the morning sun.  I feel the wind.  I smell the fall leaves.  I smile.  I laugh.  I cry too.  Today, I am thankful the gifts I have been given.  I embrace the sunset – anticipate another morning and reflect on all the goodness.  Dare I think that I will see another spring?  Could I be so bold?  Dare I think that Kevin and I will celebrate 25 years of marriage this coming year, that I will see my children grown and settled (in their own ways)?  To plan for the future is risky.  The mortality rate for stage 4 is not good.  This I know – it is my reality check.  It is my remind to live now.

One year ago today – my head was yanked out of the quicksand of work, worry, and meaningless ambition, into which it had been so deeply buried.  There is no question that cancer is a bitch.  I have learned to live with it, walk with it, and to have a healthy respect for it.

But – I also live with hope.  I am hopeful that medicine will help prolong my days, give me quality of life, allow me to continue to enjoy my family and friends.  I am hopeful that my husband and I will grow old together – that the best is yet to be.  Jason Dodge told me, “I can help you.”  He kept his promise.

I hope, by writing this blog, I can help you – to live deeper, to embrace life, to have hope.

One year ago today was the birth of my new life.

About inmycorner

This blog began as an opportunity to tell my Dad's stories. I sat with him and the computer and together we told stories. It was a wonderful way to get to know Dad. He was 9. He and Mom had a wonderful life together and since she passed away a year and a half before him - Dad was ready to join her. I no longer tell his stories but have found stories of my own. The impetus to resume this blog was the discovery that I had stage 4 ovarian cancer. Since blogging had been so therapeutic for my dad and I to get through our grief, I felt maybe this would be a good outlet to process my situation. I also hoped it may serve as an outreach to anyone else who is facing this very ominous journey. So far, so good.
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35 Responses to One year today

  1. pixieannie says:

    I have been unable to read the whole post but will do so when I feel able. Today is the 2 year anniversary of my dad’s death….a brain tumour. I guess this is making slightly more sensitive than usual. Bear with me, I will read it all but I need to be able to do so without crumbling into a heap on the floor like a child.

    You look sensational in the photograph.

    • inmycorner says:

      Oh, Pixiannie – I am so very sorry. It is so very hard to be the one that is left behind. I ache for you – I lost my dad in 2012 – mom in 2010. They are supposed to be with us forever, right? My heart goes out to you — sorry this post is so difficult for you. I hope you find comfort somewhere in these words.

      • pixieannie says:

        Please don’t be sorry. It is actually quite therapeutic and I do have a sense of how you are feeling and what you experienced. At least from the eyes of a child, watching their parent as they are faced with such news. My mum passed away almost 10 years ago, also from a brain tumour. I wrote a diary at the time and that was a huge help. There are still songs that bring a wave of emotions. I think you are amazing and your journey and stories are ones which will resonate with many and help/guide many more. Much love.

      • inmycorner says:

        Pixieannie – I am so sorry to hear about your Mum. No matter how long – I think we never really get over missing our Mums, do we? I can see how your diary would have helped. I wonder if you can actually read it now? I have yet to go over my original posts… getting the courage to “go there” soon. I do appreciate so much your kind words. Much love back at you!

  2. pepe says:

    Stacey, i got goosebumps when i read this.It must have been a difficult day for you. But you have overcome the pain and endure it till now with your courage, strength, and love from your families and friends.Continue to do that,live each day with love 🙂 And i am glad that i have encounter you as your writings have always inspired me and made me want to learn the way how you tell your stories by touching others heart. Thank you Stacey 🙂

    • inmycorner says:

      Thanks to you, pepe – we’ve known each other for quite some time now. I remember your first message to me and how important it was to know someone was out there doing research that may end up curing this horrible disease. Thank you a million times over for the work YOU do. And for being there.

  3. Your post is so inspiring! You’ve come through a deep dark valley, climbed a steep, rocky hill, and found that hopeful, so much clearer, vision up on the summit. And now to learn that it wasn’t a useless trip, that your experience can inspire others, gives sense to the whole experience.
    That’s about how I found it, too. Now I’m wishing you many blessings as you continue the journey from here. I’m coming up to year 35 myself.

    • inmycorner says:

      Oh, Christine!!! How wonderful. To wish for 35 years is more than I could have ever imagined. You have courage – you are the inspiration. And yes – it cannot have been a useless trip — how did you justify it? I sometimes am plagued with survivor’s guilt – think I need to do something very big to merit this life. How blessed are we? Congratulations – and thank you for the on-going encouragement.

      • You ask how I justified this journey I had to take. Perhaps I told you this in an earlier comment, but about two years after I was treated for breast cancer, my dad was diagnosed with a brain tumor. She called me to tell me and we talked on the phone. (They lived in SK; we in SW ON, so I couldn’t be ‘right there’ like I’d have wished.)

        But later she told me, “Dad says, “Chris knows all about this. She’s been through it, too’.” And somehow I felt like my experience was a preparation so I could help my family.

        As to survivor’s guilt: I wrote a poem called Another Writing on Breast Cancer, which dealt with this. I submitted it to a Poetry Contest and it actually won an Honorable Mention. I thought I’d posted it and tried to pull it up and give you the link, but can’t right now, so I’ll post it on my blog this morning. If you choose to read it, I fear it will make you cry, though.

  4. Pingback: Breast Cancer: Survivor Musings | Christine's Collection

  5. Janine says:

    Wow so much has happened in a year….. Love to you all xoxo

  6. My mother passed away 3 years ago today from cancer. Your efforts are courageous and inspiring. I am 66. I was diagnosed with prostate cancer last February and had 43 radiation treatments and take a Lupron shot every several months. I am astonished to see my own outlook on life change. I find meaningfulness in such different things now and am dismissive of so much I thought was important. Now need blood work check every six months. Looks like I’m gonna make it. I have to make it. My father will be 92 in two months and I am his sole caretaker. Thanks visit my blog.

    • inmycorner says:

      You have had your hands full! I am so sorry to hear about your Mum – your Dad being 92 – they must have been married a good number of years, Carl. Must be tough for your Dad without her. And that you have survived prostate cancer!!!! Good for you!!! I love a good victory story. i agree that one changes habits and outlook – for the better. Too bad it takes something like cancer to do that, eh? I was my 92 year old father’s sole caretaker too – it is an honourable job and a tough one. Good to be in touch – will visit your blog for sure. Thanks for the comment – nice to meet someone who has journied on this path successfully.

  7. This past year has been something alright Stacey. I can’t believe it’s been a full year. And yet sometimes it had to have felt so much longer. I remember reading some posts and my heart ached, physically hurt at what you were going through. And then another post and another and another….. and it felt like we were walking along side of you. Thank you for sharing your journey. It’s been an honor to be with you.

    • inmycorner says:

      No kidding – one full year. Oh, thank you for being so compassionate, Colleen. I felt you were walking along side me too – and it was wonderful to have your comments and your posts to look forward to every day – something positive on those not so nice days. I am so happy that you walked with me. And I am very grateful to YOU!

  8. Mary Kendall says:

    You are an inspiration in every sense of that word, Stacey.

  9. Karen Markovic says:

    Stacey I too was very fortunate to have met Dr. Dodge. Unfortunately, he was unable to do my surgery due to circumstances….but he is the sweetest, kindest, most compassionate doctor I have ever met. I wish you well on our recovery.

    • inmycorner says:

      Isn’t he amazing?! He did not perform my surgery either — I did have surgery in Toronto with Dr. Bernardini – thanks to Jason Dodge! I hope that things have worked in your favor — it is a difficult battle for sure, Karen. I will keep you in my thoughts.

      • Karen Markovic says:

        I really had hoped and wished for Jason to do my surgery but it wasn’t meant to be! But this man most definately made an impact on me as a human being! I never thought anyone could be so genuine and real! I have been thru quite the ordeal and by having Dr. Dodge come into my life help to re-confirm my faith in the medical system! He is a special man…….and I do believe he is the real deal!

      • inmycorner says:

        You know – he is on facebook. Imagine. He knows keeping in touch is good for a person’s healing. (A wholistic approach to medicine)

  10. Karen Markovic says:

    I really had hoped and wished for Jason to do my surgery but it wasn’t meant to be! But this man most definately made an impact on me as a human being! I never thought anyone could be so genuine and real! I have been thru quite the ordeal and by having Dr. Dodge come into my life help to re-confirm my faith in the medical system! He is a special man…….and I do believe he is the real deal!

  11. karen markovic says:

    Sorry if my comment repeated twice…….I apologize.

  12. karen markovic says:

    I was very upset that he didn’t perform the surgery on me. I always felt deep down in my heart the outcome of my situation would have been different. I had a lot to deal with and losing him as my surgeon I felt was my fault that I had done something wrong. I was just going thru so much, I lost my mom, my own illness plus many other personal issues. But I always will stand by my word that there really is no other kinder, caring, sweet man as a doctor. He is one of a kind. Actually I will say that Dr. Barry Rosen was also a wonderful man! It is a horrible journey that we have to go thru and these doctors have to know that we are gentle souls, scared, worried, filled with anxiety and fear. We need to be treated with warm hearts and gentle hands. I am so glad I found your blog.

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