New Year, New Meds, New Procedure

I’ve had a rough couple of months. I literally checked out socially. Absent from most of my social media account; distant from friends.

I felt lost, empty. I wanted to sleep, be alone.

I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t sad. I wasn’t mad.

I wasn’t anything.

I have been living with Metastatic Breast Cancer for 4 years. Going on 5. It’s been one hell of a road. There is nothing, absolutely nothing to prepare you or your psyche for how to live with a diagnosis like this. That’s probably for the best because who in their right mind would scroll thru the “How To” section, stop on that manual and say, “YES! I’ll take THAT one!” I digress.. It shouldn’t be shocking to anyone, in fact it should be expected, that there would be, at some point some depression with a terminal diagnosis but it’s not always discussed between patient and Oncologist.

Anxiety – yes. Anxiety is talked about and widely discussed. It’s almost comical fodder at times. Xanax or Ativan? I’ve even joked about it. Patients joke because if we don’t we’ll cry.

I finally got in to see my Palliative Care Doc and we talked about how I had been feeling. I told her that I felt I needed some help getting out of the deep pit of nothingness I was drowning in.

She agreed. I love this woman so much. Seriously.

I’ve been on her recommended meds for little over a month. I’m feeling better. I’m getting back to a more normal me (I hate that word ‘normal’ by the way – is anyone really normal?).

Shortly after all of that, I went to my dermatologist for what I thought was a fungus that took up residence in my big toe. (I know – TMI)  It’s not unusual to have infections or have odd things pop up when your immune system is compromised and you’re on chemotherapy meds. My doctor gave a concerned look after examining my “rogue toe” and told me it wasn’t an infection at all and it needed to be biopsied – sooner than later. It looked suspicious for Melanoma.

You have GOT to be kidding me. I just wanted an ointment damn it!

The following week I was back in the office for the biopsy of “rogue toe.” I’m absolutely not exaggerating when I say that this was by far the absolute worst procedure I’ve had EVER. My toe was numbed up with lidocaine (awful) and the entire nail was removed. The nail and samples of the nail bed were sent to pathology.

I won’t go into all of the gory details but I will say that I was not prepared for the horror show that “rogue toe” became when I had to change the bandages for the first time.

Recovery took about two weeks total but I did manage to put a shoe on in about five days. Walking wasn’t fun.

Ten very long days later I finally received the biopsy results. Negative. “Rogue toe” isn’t out to get me after all. Hopefully, the nail will grow back in time for Summer and flip-flops. If not, no big deal.

Now that all of that is out of the way, I’m looking forward to the coming months. The Aid In Dying campaign here in New York is going to be big this year. I’ll be on the road as much as I can to help get us closer to having this bill passed. I’ve also been asked to speak on advocacy this spring so stay tuned for that!

Cancer or not – it’s OK to not be OK. Depression isn’t a dirty word. It’s not something to be ashamed of. It happens to the best of us and if or when it does – ask for help. Depression isn’t something you can wish away or wait until it goes away on it’s own. I’m proof that there is light at the end of the tunnel with the right medication. If you have been experiencing any similar feelings as I have described above, you can read more here and then make an appointment with your doctor to discuss your symptoms. You’ll be glad you did.