Monday, January 5, 2015

Update from Jeannie Allen

In case you're not following Jeannie on her Facebook page, her latest Blog is reposted here.


I am three weeks shy of three years when I was diagnosed with stage IV terminal cancer and given less then a year to live. Unlike the first appearance of the cancer a couple years ago, there was no light at the end of this particular tunnel. 

 I had no idea how I would manage and rise above the overwhelming challenges ahead, but after surrendering my feelings of helplessness to God, and especially to my firefighter friends, my family and loved ones, here I am, almost three years later. 
Well I sure kicked that prognosis in the booty, eh?!

I feel a hundred times more physically beat up and weakened by treatment effects, and I'm about to go up to bat again, for another chance for a miracle, or even just for more months to stay top-side. 

The holiday season is so difficult as a cancer fighter. It's difficult not to succumb to the cloud of doom always hanging over my head, dealing with disease pain and treatment side effects. It's even more despairing to wonder, very realistically, whether I will be alive to celebrate another Christmas, another New Years, my children's birthdays. I feel like I've already surpassed the time I've deserved and that I am seriously living on borrowed time. I've completely underestimated the difficulty of the emotional and mental demands of fighting this tenacious, aggressive disease. 

The last enormous surgery was 'supposed to' get back my physical well-being, strength and vigor. But WHERE ARE MY GOOD DAYS?? What happened to the moments even, of minimal pain and discomfort, my chance to get back to my beloved Crossfit and physical exertion? 

Hellooooo? Where are you?? 

I've been on two spells of strong antibiotics in the last two months, and I likely need another stronger SOMETHING real soon. I'm having to double and triple my pain meds instead of decreasing them. My shortness of breathe that we now know was caused by tumors on my diaphragm that were removed, and not lung disease, has returned worse then ever. If it's not a tenacious infection thats causing my increased symptoms, then it's most likely disease progression, SO much faster then expected.

I can lift some boring dumb bells for exercise, and I can cautiously swim a few laps before the stretching is too painful and my breathing too labored. Unfortunately it's  "hell no" to Crossfit, or even yoga, (yawn).
So yes, I 'm pouting, big time. 

I have a couple of mantra's I remind myself of to try and be less self sabotaging. 
1. "Don't allow ANYONE, (especially ME), to steal my joy".  
2. "Everyday topside is another day closer to medical options that may be my miracle". 
3. "I get to share TODAY, this day and this moment, with my children and the many amazing people in my life I love and adore. So get on with doing it!". 

There is so much uncertainty: I’m happy for today, regardless of how I feel. But is this as good as its ever going to get? Can I allow myself the indulgence of thinking I'm going to get better and eventually be able to put this all behind me? 

There are constant, unrelenting logistics to figure out, arrange, and pay for. Is this the best treatment drug I should take next? Will it push me over the edge of the physical cliff that I'll never recover from or be the same from again?  Will this chemo make me too loopy and exhausted to work, or function responsibly as a parent?  If I enroll in this trial, will I burn out my fabulous doggy sitter, my helpful neighbors taking care of my home, the patience of my co-workers and supervisors, the flexibility of my co-parenting ex-husband, etc? 

Can I continue to find willing companions to go with me on these numerous, time intensive, expensive trips for treatment out of State? 

Most importantly, how much will I waste on thoughts of gloom and doom worrying about time I may not get? It’s bad enough that cancer may shorten my life, but I hate the cloud looming over the time that I do have.  It's easy to say, but much harder to do, to just be happy with what I have TODAY. Make no mistake, I am very aware of how blessed I am and treasure the gazillion diamonds I am surrounded by. The constant pain is the most stupidly strong reminder that all is not well. 

Here I am, right in the middle of my dream vacation and the best blessing I could ever imagine; my family reunion of 27 of us hanging out in a winter paradise, enjoying God's incredible beauty of big fluffy snowflakes, skiing, snow angels, hot tubbing, ATVing, sledding, fireplaces, card games, yummy meals together, laughing, loud, water-parking, running around cousins loving on each other. 
It's F. U. N. at its finest. 
I hate that I frequently catch myself thinking about the fact that I'm starting a new chemo blast in 7 short days. 

With a kick in the mental head, I'm done with the pity party and have physically rejuvenated with a rest and more pain medication. 
Ready to take on the evening with time spent in the best way possible. My people. 

Happy New Year to all. Here's to 2015, a chance to be a better me, a better sister, friend, cousin, girlfriend, Cana-'Merican, mother, daughter, and Christian. 

Carpe Diem always, and to LIVING A GOOD DAY, TODAY! 

Love and hugs,