Over the past month my cancer has tested me emotionally, physically, spiritually and cognitively. This rollercoaster loop was like nothing I have experienced ever in my journey. My first summer in 2016 I had excruciating pain due to mets in my hip and collar bone, I was lucky and didn’t experience intense chemotherapy related side effects. For the most part I carried on life, blogging and volunteering at the Community Navigators the non-profit I dedicated a lot of myself too as I saw it as my legacy.
I never knew and don’t ever wish to know what I feel and felt over the past 2 months. The back pain started in February but it was similar at first to my liver spasms. Deep down I knew they were in fact different. Turing your pain into words is a very tricky thing to do for any of us, it’s just not simple. It’s like how did cutting your finger this time feel verse the time you had cut it two years ago.
I remember pushing myself to a meditation class with liver and back spasms, no idea what to come or the trials I will soon come to face. Cancer has never been a walk in the park, and I have become used to spasms to a degree but, like I said, nothing that my rollercoaster cart soon would circle me around to. I saw friends come and go as the pain, fear and sickness crept in. Some could handle Larissa slipping away, while others ran. By March, I knew things were going to be different -- I just didn’t know how. I knew I wanted to put off a scan because the last one didn’t show anything in December! How can cancer grow that fast? I kept asking myself…
But that decision too would be soon taken from me. I became too sick to drink, eat and basically function on my own. Then boom! An immense tension and power started play slinky with my spine, I held on to the counter with all my might and wondered will anyone come? After my husband came and launched me up, got me to the couch, had someone run and grab my heating pad, I shook from pain, fear and shock.
The next day = emergency MRI of my spine. I went to the outpatient MRI location but it became clear that we wouldn’t be able to do it there without pain control as laying flat on the bed would be excruciating and impossible. My mom sat in the other room traumatized as she heard me scream bloody murder. So to the ER we went, both me and my mom trying to hold it together for me. (I see this now but of course not in the moment.) I was immediately admitted which frightened me more: I’m in the wrong hospital, this isn’t Dana Farber, and oh no I’m at Hartford Hospital! What will they do to me now?
Finally, after lots of battles, Dana Farber was able to get me admitted to them. I remember closing my eyes during transport thankful to be on my way to a team of doctors who truly know my case all around. I went from hearing 10 back radiations to 1 at Dana. I was grateful to feel in good hands, pain management that was working and tests to continue to monitor me.
After having a team of doctors launch ideas around me, including me & my family, I felt safe and in good hands. No mention you will meet this doctor Tuesday, or this doctor Thursday, just a team of doctors who all wanted wanted one thing: Larissa to get better.
It took days to get my pain under control and my back to stop playing slinky. I knew I had little teeny tiny spots on my back but I never knew I grew lesions from the top all the way to the very end. I underwent radiation so I can continue to fight my liver mets. It wasn’t just back lesions I was battling -- my liver decided to hop into action too and blew up like an air balloon. We needed to act fast on both areas, so getting back to chemo was just as important. But the trick is you can only do one – radiation or chemo - at a time.
After my stay at the hospital, I went home with a very involved pain management plan and, if you follow me on social media, you would have noticed I held back on posting. It is not the easiest to post, make sense and adjust to a very involved pain management plan. I was definitely not looking my normal glam & shine self and in the first few weeks I barely saw sunshine. My first real day out consisted of Easter, we went to church, and we ate and I went to bed. But it was an accomplishment! My husband has had to be superman like he has never had to do before while standing strong - making sure I was eating, drinking, helping me clean myself up in every single way imaginable, not complain or melt down and Yes I’m happy to announce he still loves loves loves me! Somehow…. My mother who I am not always so nice to stayed strong to keep me afloat. My dad and my Aunt made sure I didn’t miss my Italian traditions: she battled her fear of dogs to bring me comfort. My mother in law flew from Poland to help take care of me and to make sure I was packing on pounds whenever she could get a piece of food near my mouth which, already 10 lbs lighter needed!
I look around at my family and I see just how blessed I am! There were moments I prepared my celebration of life and what is next for me. I struggled to hold onto hope and faith so much I really didn’t see a way out. I tried to prepare myself for the end. Then I asked my doctor is this my time? She said I don’t know but I think you’re getting better, it’s just taking awhile. I went home and looked at myself and realized the same thing: this is not yet my time. I might hurt, I might be uncomfortable, I might still experience more bad days versus good days but I’m still experiencing. Life keeps entering my eyes each and every day. Some days I WOW myself and maybe this chemo isn’t for me and the next will be. That’s ok. Maybe I’ll need more radiation and that’s ok too. But I’m not done fighting, I’m not done living! But I do pronounce April as Larissa’s Recuperation April so I can see my cousin get married in May!
No one said cancer would be easy, but no one can put into words what type of pain you can or will endure because everyone’s journey will be so different. I thought I felt cancer but now I know this stinky MBC has a lot up its sleeves and my living and loving life might be my emotional strength to arise in these dark moments. I ask people to be patient with me, I ask for your support and I ask for your endless love!
Metastatically Speaking Blogger: Larissa Podermanski