Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Reasons to Smile

I'm amazed that it has been almost a year since I've blogged.  A year full of living life!  I really don't know where to start.  It's a strange and wonderful experience to be living in what I like to think of as these bonus years.  Years that cancer has threatened to take away.  So many milestones that I have been here to see and celebrate with my beautiful family.  For this I feel such a deep sense of gratitude I can not even put into words and this gratitude is what keeps me smiling.

Over this last year my scans have been very stable. No evidence of disease in my body and my last brain scan showed no new tumours since my gamma knife treatment last year.  A couple of the existing tumours may have even shrunk a little which is surprising since my treatment hasn't changed. I'm still on the oral medication Dabrafinib (Tafinlar) and it remains to work at keeping things stable.  I've been on the BRAF inhibiting drugs for almost 3 1/2 years now which is well beyond what was initially expected which was 6 months.  In fact, my doctor is feeling so confident about my health status right now I am getting a summer break from going into the clinic.  Yayyyy!!  I will remain on my meds and will see him again after I have my next regular CT scan at the end of August.  I have a brain MRI scheduled in July and will receive the results of that from my brain doc.  My appointments have now become just a quick check in to see how I'm doing.  Of course blood work, but that's just checking to see how my body is handling the treatment and everything has been good there.  It's my scans that will show if my treatment needs to be changed.  So we go on living in these 3 month time frames - very relieved for every time scans are stable and we can breathe easier for another 3 months.  For some reason stepping through those doors at Cancer Care as a patient makes me feel - well I guess - like I am a patient, like I'm a sick person.  Just when I start feeling normal again then it's time for another appointment.  I think about it when I have an upcoming appointment, even if I know that everything is fine.  There is an unsteady feeling about it like at anytime they could tell me that things have changed and my treatment stops working.  It's scary.  So anytime away from there is fine by me. There are two very promising treatments that they are using in my clinic right now besides the one I'm on and I am very excited to hear about what else is new out there at our annual Melanoma Information night this month.  I'm very thankful to know that if the cancer decides to reappear, there are options.  There is hope. 

I had the sweetest encounter the other day at Cancer Care.  I was there for a committee meeting and afterwards decided to go to the resource center and check out a few books.  As I was finishing up, a very fragile looking lady came in wearing a big beautiful sunhat.  Love her for that alone!  She maneuvered her walker through the doorway not taking her eyes off of me for a second with the biggest smile on her face. Then she exclaimed in a voice much louder than I expected "Wow!  Just Wow!!"  I smiled not really sure what all the excitement was about.  Until she said "Your hair! Like Wow!"  I'm sure my face turned beet red as I realized that all eyes were on me.  The kind volunteer lady said "I know right, it's beautiful!"  For those of you that havn't seen me in a while I have grown quite the curly, frizzy, crazy head of hair.  I call it the chemo curl.  Some people lose their hair, others get crazy hair.  The conversation went on to other things and then back to the hair, and then onto other things - and then back to the hair.  She was a very chatty, spunky lady.  She shared some of her cancer story with me and why she was at the clinic.  She then apologized for going on about my hair and then said something to me that has now changed not only the way I see this crazy head of hair but also is a great reminder about the little things in life.  She said "I don't have much to smile about these days but your hair sure makes me smile."  

So we keep on living everyday taking notice of the little things we have around us to smile about.  Even in a world that can feel full of uncertainty, sadness & fear; remembering that there can also be gratitude, happiness & love and making sure that these are the things that take center stage in our lives.  

xoxo Natalie

1 comment:

  1. So happy to see you are doing well Natalie!
    I was your. Mother-in-laws co-worker for several years and am always anxious to know how you are doing! Great to hear! Myrna