Now we are four (stage four)

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Cake Smash, by Jenny Kaczorowski on Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons

One year ago, September 8, the rug got pulled out from under me. The results to my CT scan of September 2014 were not what I was expecting. The crap had burrowed in deep. “The horses got out of the barn,” I remember Nurse Practitioner K saying to me, but immediately reassuring me that all would be well. (And, upon reflection, that my body was the barn.)

It’s my first metastaversary!!

Except for the extremely rough patch last November, when my treatment was suspended because it induced colitis, I feel that I really have nothing to complain about. I mean, I have complained, bitterly and repeatedly, mostly to J, and Mom, and lately to my therapist. (I could even complain right now: I have an earache.)

But here I am, a year after getting that crushing news, and… I’m alive and bad things are shrinking, and the new drug combo hasn’t even stopped my heart yet!

Would you believe that I was so much in denial about how much trouble I was in, I never actually asked for staging info for my cancer? It seemed to me that info was beside the point, a source of needless anxiety. Tonight, in an ill-advised and pointless Google search to find out all the different places that melanoma can metastasize to, because I was curious (and am now convinced I have bone mets because my wrist hurts), I learned a year after the fact that of course metastatic melanoma is stage 4. Those who know anything about cancer know that there ain’t no stage 5, unless you consider death a temporary waystation before you change forms.

There is plenty I am not satisfied with at the moment. Tomorrow I have to see at least two different doctors and possibly a third, all in order to manage medication side effects. The year, the stress, the medication, has me twenty pounds heavier than a year ago. My anti-seizure medication makes me totally exhausted. I’m hoping to quit that stuff soon.

But I think on this day (once I’m done with everything I have to do) it is necessary to pause, and yes, to celebrate. To life! In its many forms! And its many perplexing stages! And to acknowledge the many loved ones, friends, caregivers, and even random strangers, who helped me get here.

Here’s a song to accompany the post – (lyrics below to explain why I chose it):

Nine out of ten – Caetano Veloso

I walk down Portobello Road to the sound of reggae
I’m alive
The age of gold, yes the age of
The age of old
The age of gold
The age of music is past
I hear them talk as I walk
Yes, I hear them talk
I hear they say
“Expect the final blast”
I walk down Portobello Road to the sound of reggae
I’m alive
I’m alive and vivo muito vivo, vivo, vivo
Feel the sound of music banging in my belly
Know that one day I must die
I’m alive
I’m alive and vivo muito vivo, vivo, vivo
In the electric cinema or on the telly, telly, telly
Nine out of ten movie stars make me cry
I’m alive
And nine out of ten film stars make me cry
I’m alive

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