I Am Thankful

After my let’s-talk-about-chemo-appointment with my oncologist, I had one final task before I am set to begin chemo (besides getting my port put in, but I refuse to remotely acknowledge that that is even happening, so that degree of denial is working thus far). My final task was to speak with a fertility specialist. But first, a brief Chemo 101 session: Chemo attacks rapidly dividing cells, those that are cancerous and unfortunately those that are not. Chemo does not discriminate, it just attacks. The areas of attack include the ovaries and other such areas that we really do not want the chemo to mess with at all. I needed to speak with a fertility doctor in order to discuss what chemo was going to do to the possibility of me having a family of my own one day.

So I sat down with a fertility doctor to discuss options. One of the first questions out of his mouth was, “Are you married?” “No,” I had the privilege to say to yet another medical professional, “I am not married.” The entire medical community seems to be overly preoccupied with my marital status if you ask me. This is not eHarmony, people. I cannot count the number of times my single-hood has come up in conversation with my medical team. He explained that the task of fertilizing an egg after it was initially frozen is difficult. Generally you need to fertilize the egg, THEN freeze. Bummer, I thought. I was really hoping I could walk in, my doctor could do a few tricks, harvest some eggs, put them safely away somewhere, and then when I am ready to have some little ones I could just head back to my vault-o-eggs and get the party started. But of course, I am not married. I have no one to fertilize my eggs. I think to myself—yet another outright discrimination against all the single ladies. Unbelievable. So, my mind wandered to the possibility of obtaining a sperm donor. Perhaps Ryan Gosling is available? If only I had his cell phone number…

What are my other options if, for some strange reason, I can’t get Ryan Gosling on the phone? My fertility doctor proceeded to inform me of this miraculous shot that they can give me to put my ovaries “on pause.” Basically, the chemo won’t attack the ovaries if they are on pause. We are totally going to pull a fast one on the chemo! Awesome, I think, sign me up! My ovaries aren’t really doing me any favors at the moment anyway, so let’s pause them, shall we? He mentions that I will not have any periods while I am on the shot. EVEN BETTER, I think. Oh, he says, a minor detail he failed to mention… “You will go through menopause…TEMPORARILY.”

I just looked back at the doctor blankly and smiled. OF COURSE I WILL!!!!!!!!!!!! Why wouldn’t I go through menopause? At this point, he could have told me that my skin was going to turn bright purple and my head was going to explode and I really wouldn’t have been surprised. So much has happened to me, and my poor body in the last few months, that the sky is really the limit. So, I opted to go into menopause, voluntarily (if you can really call it that). The doctor warned me of the hot flashes, moodiness, weight gain, and fatigue associated with menopause. Whatever, doc. Just give me the shot. Who are we kidding? Obviously, if I have the ability to protect my ovaries in order to have a child in the future, I will do what I need to do. How to make menopause chic will be a hefty task but I am up to the challenge!

A few days later I showed up to my oncologist’s office where I was supposed to be getting this shot that will send me into menopause at the age of 28. I am doing this for the possibility of having a family someday, I told myself, and I walked in confidently. Until, of course, the oncology nurse led me back to the chemo room and told me to sit and wait in there. NOT THE CHEMO ROOM! I had glanced at it a few times, always quickly turning away. It always seemed so sad in there, cold, and depressing. I looked around and saw about ten people getting their chemo administered. One lady was on her cell phone. She looked as though she was wheeling and dealing. She had no plans on letting her cancer slow her down. I immediately loved her. Another woman was there with her husband and he was holding her hand. How sweet. Another woman was sitting with a friend and they were eating some trail mix and playing cards. Just a little girl time in the chemo room. I continued to scan the crowd and I saw a few people who looked like they were at least half dead, possibly worse.

I panicked, I started to cry, I looked at my mom and told her that surely there was some mistake. “Why am I in here? Why am I in here? WHY AM I IN HERE??!!?” I kept repeating this. Are they about to give me chemo? What is happening? I was losing it at this point. My mom asked one of the nurses and they explained that the chemo room is where they administer the shots as well. I quickly determined that this is obviously a terrible plan. After that initial moment of thinking I was going to get chemo on accident I got the menopause shot and headed home. I sat there waiting for my first hot flash, I kept looking in the mirror expecting my backside to grow exponentially in front of my very eyes, or I thought at least a severe onset of the menopause mood swings was about to take over my body. Nothing happened. I continued to wait. In the following days the one symptom I noticed was fatigue. I got extremely tired. I am determined not to gain menopause weight and keep my backside in check, so I walk every morning (I still can’t run after the surgery) and try and be as active as possible.

Other than the menopause, I am doing just fine! Yes, chemo is quickly approaching. My first treatment session will be next Tuesday. So, if you think of me next Tuesday, send up a prayer or transmit some positive vibes my way because I sure am going to need it. And if you aren’t partial to prayer or positive vibes find someone that is and have them send out a few.

Since it is Thanksgiving and all, I feel it only appropriate to express a few things that I am most thankful for this year. I am thankful for my family. First, I am thankful for my mother who has stuck by my side, not only through this experience, but also through every moment, both good and bad, in my life. She has been my rock and I would not have made it through any of this without her. I am thankful that whenever I am next to her I know I will always be safe and that is the most precious feeling in the world to me. I am thankful for my father who taught me that I can do whatever I want to in this world. He taught me to do everything I do with everything I’ve got, and the passion I carry for what I believe in and the people I love is a direct reflection of that. He also taught me how to make people laugh, and how to laugh at myself, which I do frequently and gladly. I am thankful for my sister who prayed for me to come into this world when she was a little girl every night before she went to sleep. I am also thankful that she didn’t take me out of this world when I did arrive and became a pesky (and perhaps annoying at times) little sister. I am thankful for my brother-in-law, because I always tell my sister that I want to marry someone just like him. Not in a creepy way, people, but because he is one of the best men I know. I am thankful for my nephew, because he has taught me the power and beauty of unconditional love. He has also taught me everything I need to know about super heros. And I am thankful for my niece, because she has taught me the power and beauty of unconditional cuteness, which she is highly aware that she possesses.

I am thankful for the survivors I have spoken with (family members, friends, and people I do not even know have reached out to me), and those who have called and left me voicemails and emails, those who have shared their story and provided me with hope. Linda, a survivor and a good friend of my mother, has been an inspiration to me. The day I was diagnosed I went to Linda’s house, when my whole world was spinning out of control. When I didn’t know if I was going to be able to fight my cancer and beat it. When I knew I had a massive cancerous tumor in my body. Linda walked me through everything I needed to expect, and she was where I got that initial spark of hope—that first inkling that I clung to when I realized that everything was going to be ok. It wasn’t going to be fun, but I was going to live, and anything else just is not an option.

I am thankful for my friends who have provided me with such an overwhelming amount of support. It is simply impossible to express how touched I have been by all of them during this difficult time. I am thankful for the old and cherished memories I have been able to share with them and the hope I have for the ability to share in making new ones. I am thankful for the laughter that my friends have provided for me, which I will always consider to be the best medicine of all.

And finally, I am thankful for these final days before chemo begins where I still feel excellent, I still have my energy, I still have my hair, and I still appreciate the magnificence of simple carbohydrates which I plan on indulging myself in over the holiday. Happy Thanksgiving. We have much to be thankful for.


18 thoughts on “I Am Thankful

  1. Keep up that great spirit!! You are a wonderful inspiration and we are thankful for you. We will be thinking of you and praying for you especially on Tuesday morning. God will bless and take care of you as you go through this difficult time.
    Love and Hugs,
    Bob and Helen

  2. You my dear are a true inspiration! Thoughts and prayers are with you always. I feel blessed to have witnessed and shared moments of your life and look forward to many more. Stay positive! You can do this! Love you lots! Cecil

  3. Every Tuesday, without a doubt. And, finally, something I know about…so if you need any menopause advice…I’m here for you sister. Frankly, I surprised I still have a family after that LOL! Perspective is a wonderful thing. Today, on my birthday and Thanksgiving, sitting alone ( oh, Rowdy, my faithful golden is here..) with my family literally across the globe, I am thankful.

  4. What a wonderful blog, Abby. We are thinking of you today, and also of another two friends’ daughter who was just diagnosed also, at 30. You will begin your chemo at almost the same time. A friend and I pray at 8 every morning, no matter where we are, so on Tuesdays, especially, you will be on our minds.

  5. Abby…I will definitely be sending whatever positive you’d like on Tuesday! I still think about you every day….hugs to you! And Happy Thanksgiving!

  6. We will keep praying for you as always. I know it’s hard going through menopause…I’m dealing with the same but its not so bad. I do admire your courage and I know you will be just fine. May God bless you each and everyday more and more. We love you…

  7. You can count on my prayers Abbs!!! I am thankful that God brought you into my life so long ago in high school. We had some wonderful memories… I still remember visiting your house on home leave and seeing that big pig and then discovering the laundry shoot. 🙂 I am thankful that you have such an amazing support system and that you seem to be keeping a positive attitude about all this. Sometimes I wish I had your strength to face my struggles that seem minimal compared to what your going through. God will definitely carry you through! I look forward to holding your hand through one of your chemo sessions and helping to distract you. 🙂 We will laugh and have a girl party like those ladies you mentioned in your blog. 🙂 Just let me know and we will set a date. 🙂 Love you!!!!

  8. Abby, you have been so brave to share this difficult experience. Be assured that you will be remembered on Tuesday as you have your first chemo — and in the following days when you will actually begin to feel the effects of the chemo. It is so wonderful that you have such great support surrounding you. Hugs, Valeetah

  9. Abby,
    Every blog posting is so funny, real, and uplifting, DESPITE everything. Your positive attitude will make a huge difference. I have a dear friend in that chemo room and I’ve been there with her and she is NOT losing any hair, losing or gaining weight, and she’s still working. She is an inspiration to me and others and you are too. You and your mom or friends that will be with you will cheer everyone up who happens to be there on Tuesdays.
    It will be Fun (not fat) Tuesdays with Abby. Praying for you every day and will do double on Tuesdays.


  10. Hello Abby,

    I read over your blog and I am thinking, “that is the spirited, bright, special Abby that I remember as a kid!” Bonnie and I join in praying for you! God Bless!

    Charles Bensonhaver

  11. Abby, I hope your day has gone better than you imagined. You have been in my prayers all day and as our faculty got together yesterday for worship we remembered you in prayer. My class prayed again for you this morning. You are in my thoughts and prayers continually. Thank you for keeping in touch with us all.

  12. I know today was difficult but with your feisty spirit you can do anything. Your blog is so real, inspirational and witty. Thank you for being so brave and vulnerable and sharing it with all of us. I have been praying for you all day and praising God for treatments, family, and friends that care. Cheers!

  13. Abby, you are loved by so many! Prayed for you this morning at 4AM when something woke me up, then again off and on during the day. As difficult as today must have been for you, I hope you had some peace.

  14. Dear Abby;

    Raj and I pray for you every morning. You have a very special place in our hearts. We love you and continue to pray for God’s abundant care upon you.


  15. Abby, if you are a movie goer, this one is delightful- Scorsese’s ‘Hugo’ in 3D. Surprising in so many ways. Best, Charles

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