Tuesday, November 15, 2016

How You Spend Your Dash

Things never go the way we think. I think I'm nearing the end of this journey & I get news that possibly tells me otherwise. I met with my radiologic oncologist (the guy who does my radiation) and he was very concerned about a spot that had shown up on my pubic bone. We knew something had been seen in a PET scan, but I had a bone scan that showed no activity so we thought that meant I was in the clear. The oncologist believes this spot is cancer and layered all the scans on top of each other to show me how it was always there in each scan I've had. I asked why the bone scan came back as "clear" and he showed me - quite clearly there is no bone there. It appears that the cancer has already eaten a hole in the bone. I've been scheduled for a bone biopsy on Nov. 22nd (ouch...thankfully I'll be asleep) and will know more after that biopsy but the oncologist & my surgeon feel pretty strongly that it is cancer. 

What does all that mean? If cancer has spread to my bone that means I have metastatic breast cancer - stage 4. This is just a fancy word that means some of my original cancer in the breast broke off & settled in a new area. We already know that I have several lymph nodes involved & that is how the cancer moves in the body - mine just seems to have moved to the bone. A bone metastases is very common and the hip & pubic area are a common spot. The scariest part of this is that once cancer has spread to the bones or to other parts of the body it's rarely able to be cured. I may never have remission & treatment will begin to focus on length & quality of life. While they can't make the cancer go away, it can be treated to shrink, stop, or slow it's growth. The damage that has been done to the bone has been done. If the biopsy comes back positive I will receive radiation to my hip area at the same time they are radiating the breast/underarm, but I'm not really sure what my other treatment options are. The oncologist mentioned more chemo but also said that chemo doesn't work well on a bone cancer since there is such little blood flow to the bone & I just had chemo - he doesn't think more will help. So beyond radiation I really don't know.

We are still a go for surgery on Dec. 5th. I can still feel the original tumor in my breast & I've stopped chemo. If they don't remove my breast that tumor will just begin to grow & spread again. I'm too young not to treat this as aggressively as possible. This may be what does me in but it won't be today. I will fight, I will continue living my life, I will continue laughing, I will continue loving. I will not lay down & die or be angry with God. I have moments where I'm just terrified or I cry, but those moments aren't as frequent as you might think. I have things I want to do next year. Right now I'm mostly planning Christmas in our immediate future, helping with the American Cancer Society next year, and a little more in the distance is a trip for our 10th anniversary & our next family trip to Disney World. That Disney trip was going to be my "celebration" trip when I was free of cancer and, no matter what this biopsy says, I still plan to take it. The one thing I can say that this cancer has done is make me more aware of  what I can do to help others & doing all I can to create  awesome memories with my husband & my kids. I want them to have amazing memories with me in them no matter if I have 5 or 50 more years with them. I will make my dash worth something!

I read of a man who stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend

He referred to the dates on her tombstone
From the beginning to the end. 

He noted that first came her date of her birth
And spoke the following date with tears

But he said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years. 

For that dash represents all the time
That she spent alive on earth

And now only those who loved her
Know what that dash is worth.

For it matters not how much we own;
The cars, the house, the cash

What matters is how we live and love
And how we spend our dash. 

So think about this long and hard 
Are there things you'd like to change? 

For you never know how much time is left
That can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough
To consider what's true and real

And always try to understand 
The way other people feel. 

And be less quick to anger,
And show appreciation more

And love the people in our lives
Like we've never loved before. 

If we treat each other with respect,
And more often wear a smile

Remembering that this special dash
Might only last a little while. 

So, when your eulogy is being read
With your life's actions to rehash

Would you be proud of the things they say
About how you spent your dash? 


  1. Jerina, I'm crying. This is so unfortunate and between my grandpa and a few others I can say my experience with cancer has made me hate it even more.
    I was crushed when you announced you had breast cancer and i was more saddened for Reece and Riley. You don't need to be told this, but you are a wonderful mother and you are a hero to those precious kids.
    Still praying for you and your family. I know it hasn't been easy.

    Love from the Johnson's!
    Shayna, Riley & Rustin

  2. Keeping you & your family in my prayers Jeri name. I have no doubt that you will fight & the prayers sent up for you will be your strength!

  3. Praying for a long and bountiful dash!

  4. My heart is so sad for you. Praying for you and your family and wisdom that will lead you to miracles. God bless you with peace and love that overflows from you and pours into your children and family and all who love you.