During the bouts of cancer diagnosis and treatments, Rachel writes e-mails to keep her friends and family updated on her thoughts and spiritual walk.

Crying when you’re happy

August 6, 2004

Today I’ve cried a few times for no real reason. No guy who reads this will understand but every girl can relate. It’s the strangest thing to be sad and happy at the same time. One moment I was joking with the nurses in the pre-op holding room (I had my port-a-cath inserted today. Sure to be a lovely addition to my collection of scars but more on that later.) and the next I was blinking back tears. Then later I’m home after surgery enjoying a bowl of soup because they starve you before an operation and all of a sudden my eyes start leaking again. Drives me crazy. Anyway, I think the conflicting emotions reflect the day well because on one hand I had surgery today but…


I also got some good news. We met with my oncologist this morning and, long story short, I am going to do a different course of chemo which, although it is a A Bad Boy in its own right, will only take 18 (vs. 24) weeks. I will be done by Christmas! She had encouraged me to participate in a clinical trial but I declined because at this point I just want to know exactly what the treatment is and get it over with. Being involved in a clinical trial would involve more followup (i.e. more and longer appointments) and, with two kids, I just didn’t want to take on more. During the course of the conversation she also learned that we have recently moved back from the States, started a business and had a baby. So, she decided to recommend a chemo regimen called FEC – which is given entirely by IV once every 3 weeks for 6 courses. Same drugs. Less time. The method of delivery and the amounts of the drugs are slightly different but the “cure rate” or whatever it’s called is similar to CEF so there was no disadvantage to going with FEC. CEF is just considered the “standard” treatment.


I am thrilled – well, as thrilled as one can be about chemo. I am just so glad to have a shorter course. I can’t believe it. The side effects are the same but I am hopeful that they will be easier in some respects as I will go in for chemo one day and then have 3 weeks to recover versus the two weeks on and two weeks off of CEF. I might be sicker for the few days after the treatment but I think I might feel better sooner than I would taking drugs for 2 weeks. So sad when you get excited about being really sick for less time as opposed to kind of sick for a longer time.


And this afternoon I had my port-a-cath put in. This will allow the nurses to administer the chemo easily as the port is already connected to a vein. This saves time and the trouble of starting an IV each time I go in for treatment. It was day surgery so I was in and out in 2 hours. The surgery took an hour and I had an excellent doctor and some very cool nurses. I was sedated – kind of. They gave me one dose to make me sleepy and I didn’t feel it. So they gave me another but I was still chatting the doctor up during the whole procedure. Near the end he said, “That sedation didn’t really work much did it?” – which I think was a nice way of asking me to shut up. Oh well. Hopefully he was more careful because I was asking him what he was doing the whole time. Anyway, so now I have a lovely lump just below my collarbone on the left side. It’s about the size of a loonie with a bump the size of a nickel on it and sits just underneath the skin so it’s not too bad but I’m glad bathing suit season will be wrapping up in a few weeks.


Let’s see…what else…ah…The Wig. Yes. I now am the owner of a wig. Crazy. I felt like I was bringing home a dead animal yesterday. It’s a little freaky looking when it’s just in a bag. Anyway, all the books/brochures/websites/videos/people/etc. say that you MUST get a wig before you lose your hair for a couple of reasons – to match colour, so that you have it ready, etc. More than just a little pressure for a girl whose hopeful that I’ll be confident enough to go bald some of the time. But I succumbed to the pressure and, well, I got The Wig. I considered doing a Sydney Bristow (for all of you who don’t watch Alias, you should) but decided I’d probably freak my kids out if I came home looking like a Russian spy. So I have a short wig that is exactly the same colour as my hair now. I need to work with it a bit and it will be easier to play with once I don’t have my own hair underneath but I think it will be ok. I tried it on last night and Neil said at one point that I looked like Ashley Judd …sigh…if only I did but somehow I don’t think Ashley has bags the size of Texas under her eyes.


So that’s it. Am going to lie low this weekend and rest up for next week. I’ll send out a few (shorter) e-mails next week to let you know how it’s going. I feel badly that I’m sending out these epics but I figure that if you don’t want to read them you can just delete them – of course, if you’ve read this far already…I love you.


Here’s to crying when you feel happy. It’s sad that men can’t really relate because I think it is a unique reflection of the joy of the Lord. I can be sad in my circumstances but still joyful in the hope that I have: I know who I am. I know what Christ has done for me on the cross. And nothing can change my position as His child. He is so good to me…today, as I waited in the pre-op holding room, I was sad as I realized I will have two more scars on my neck and chest. My eyes started to leak (again) and He whispered to me, “I’m going to give you a glorious body someday.” It was the perfect reminder. Not just that I’m going to look better someday but that everything here is so temporary. Everything to come is more real and so much better than we can imagine. That’s why I can cry when I’m happy.



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