GUEST POST BY TAMI BOEHMER
I’ve sure had my share of ups and downs during this journey, but none as dramatic as recently…unless you count the time when I first diagnosed. As Hurricane Issac approaches the Gulf, I’m reminded how living with metastatic cancer can resemble one big hairy weather pattern.
It seemed the storms started raging the day after Valentine’s Day when my brother Mitch suddenly died from an apparent stroke. Dealing with the trauma of seeing him lying dead on the kitchen floor was followed by months of trying to help my mother, who lived with him and depended on him for everything. In the midst of this, I received another shock: my PET scan showed that cancer, which had been relatively well-behaved up to that point, had spread to my peritoneal cavity.
Those of you who’ve been following me for a while know the rest — going on a treatment that didn’t work at all, a biopsy followed by two weeks of painful and depressing recovery, then finding out that my insurance would not cover the preferred treatment recommended by my chemo-sensitivity test. After attending yet another funeral of a friend, who was an amazing cancer advocate, my usual optimism started flagging. “Have I hit a wall, and is it all downhill from here?”
I decided to forge ahead and put those thoughts behind me. I chose another treatment the test revealed I was sensitive to (Cytoxan) and continued my diet and supplement regimen recommended by the Block Center for Integrative Cancer Treatment. I actually looked death in the face and started talking about it with counselors, but later concluded I was going to flip it the bird and live the hell out of my life. Slowly I regained my energy and started walking at my full speed and swimming laps at the pool. I spent less time working and more time enjoying the summer with my wonderful daughter Chrissy. I took pleasure in the little things like watching our favorite TV shows and hanging out on the porch playing board games. We rescheduled our vacation, which I had to cancel due to starting a new treatment, and had a blast (see last post)!
And soon enough the sun began to emerge. Last week, we prepared for the worst but hoped for the best as we awaited my PET scan results. I had pain in my pelvic area, and I wondered if it meant things were progressing again. Chrissy was with me when I picked up the envelope from the hospital. I opened the report and read enough to learn that all the lesions’ uptake (which measures cancer activity) had decreased, many by 50 percent! Tears pooled in my eyes, “This is a good scan!” I said to the nice lady who handed it to me. “We know!” she responded as I gave her and Chrissy a big hug. I guess several people there already knew the results.
I couldn’t remember the last time I had such good news. For the past couple of years, results have showed the cancer was either stable or progressing. I was always thrilled with stable and the fact that the quality of my life has been excellent. That’s what living well with cancer is all about. But this was definitely “rainbow in the sky” news!
And the blessings seem to keep coming. There have been some exciting opportunities falling into my lap for my book and carrying my message to others. I’m still waiting to hear back on the outcomes, but I’ll let you all know when I know! For now, I am just happy to feel healthy and have this much-needed reprieve. My husband Mike and I were taking a walk last night and discussing the possibilities in our future. “Who would think two months ago as I lay in pain on our recliner that we would be where we are today?” I rhetorically asked. Difficult times sure make the happy times so much sweeter.
After more than 20 years working in health care public relations, Tami Boehmer was thrust into the world as a patient. In February 2008, she was diagnosed with a stage IV breast cancer recurrence–months after celebrating her five-year, cancer-free anniversary. Unwilling to accept a grim prognosis, she decided to interview survivors nationwide who have lived far beyond what the medical establishment predicted. Tami compiled these amazing stories into her book, and shares them along with valuable information on healing the body, mind and spirit on her Web site and blog, Miracle Survivors. Tami lives with her husband Mike, daughter Chrissy and furry feline AJ in Cincinnati, Ohio. She divides her time between caring for her family, blogging, fulfilling speaking engagements, and serving as a board member for Pink Ribbon Girls, a support group for young breast cancer survivors.