Bravery in the Moments of Brokenness

What is Bravery? says that bravery is an admirable quality of being able to confront frightening things. I think everyone has the capacity to be brave. You are really only confined by the walls that you put up around yourself. Those who may not feel like they are brave, probably have amazing bravery within that maybe they just haven't had to face yet. 
I have many people say to me, I don't know how you do it.  You are tougher and braver than I am, or could ever be.  Well that is just silly...I really don't think I am tougher or braver than you or anyone else.  I just have to be. 

As you know, this year has been rough.  I had a new breast cancer tumor removed in April.  In July, I started having new pain in my sternum which led to changing my treatment plan.  I was unable to get in the clinical trial I wanted. Meanwhile, two new cancer spots on my ribs began to grow. So I started Xeloda, a chemo in pill form along with Herceptin treatments.

I thought a lot about bravery yesterday. Again, everything changed within a day leaving me with a line of new things to think about, worry about and be brave about. Last week, I had a bone scan and CT scan to see how the treatment plan was working. After reading the reports, I had a strong feeling that I was going to have to pull out the bravery! Yesterday, I learned that the Xeloda has failed to work, so now I am going to start my fourth line treatment which is a stronger chemotherapy.  I will be getting these infusions once every four weeks...starting yesterday! 

There is an indescribable fear that takes over me when I start new treatments.  You have no idea what your body's immediate reaction is going to be. And then you have no idea which of the many side effects on a three page list will be your new companions in life.  It took a huge amount of bravery to sit down in that chair as they hung my toxic coded bag of red fluid. 
They had given me a small bag of steroids before the chemo to help with any reactions.  About 1/3 of the way through the bag of chemo, I felt like there was something in the back of my throat.  As it seemed worse, I decided I should probably tell them.  They moved forward by shooting me up with some more steroids and Benadryl.  As a new sense of I'm dizzy, no I'm awake, now I'm hungry, oh I'm drowsy, no I'm jittery...the weirdness in my throat went away and the pumping of chemo resumed. 

At the end of this day consumed by brokenness, I left feeling quite brave.  The facts of my disease and my future are extremely unsettling, yet there is no other way to live.  Living with a terminal illness is a continuous process of dealing with what happens in your body next, working with your oncologist in choosing the best plan, balancing optimism with reality, capturing the beautiful moments of your life, and ultimately choosing to live each day doing what matters to you the most.
Have hope and have faith!

Think about your day today and realize that you too are very BRAVE!