Thursday, June 2, 2011

Drastic times call for drastic measures

What's so crazy about this whole experience is that so much is happening so fast. And none of this can be undone. I mean the cancer part can be fixed, but so much of what has to happen to get there is so drastic. I am not in any way questioning the need for it, but it just sucks that it's happening, and once it's done, there is no going back.  And no matter what happens, I will never be the same person I was on May 2, 2011. Ever. I can only hope that I end up being a new and improved model in many ways.

Be warned, the coming paragraphs delve into to some pretty intense personal thoughts and decisions. I apologize in advance for being so blunt and open, but I guess I need to lay it all out, even if just to get my head around it.

Surgery is coming up quickly now. Double mastectomy. I do believe that the end of all of this, I will be glad I did it, but man, it's worse than marine corp training. Talk about beating you down to build you back up! Kind of funny if you think of it, that slogan "the few, the proud" kind of applies to the survivors in this world too. We go through hell and back, and we come out stronger for it. But that doesn't make it suck any less. (p.s. I really should apologize to mom for the salty language that is being tossed about throughout this blog---apparently, cancer has affected my filter. It's one of those odd side effects I guess).

Then on top of that, the ovaries. Oy! What a decision. There is a good chance that they will have to come out, or at least the left one will. They don't believe it is cancerous, but they cannot be sure. And certainly, if it is fine now, my risk is still slightly elevated of having them affected in the future. The thing is, once they come out, there's no putting them back. Talk about pressure to make the "right" decision, as if I can ever really know for sure what that answer is. But truthfully, even if there is only a 1% chance of them being affected by cancer, it's 1% too many in my book. I have a life to live, a family to love. I just can't see gambling with it.

I know a lot of people will disagree with our choice.  But please understand it is not being made without much thought and prayer. To us, the answer is clear.

Steve and I have talked a lot about it. I do not think we will be having any more children. The risk (even if it is not huge) is just not worth it. I am sad about that, but I know I would be infinitely more sad if I decided to take the chance, and it ended up raising my risk for recurrence. That thought is simply too scary to bear. The cancer fear grips your soul. It is like nothing I can ever put into words. All I can say is the pain associated with the fear much outweighs the sadness that comes with knowing I will never have a daughter of my own, or be able to give Steven a brother. And trust me, that sadness is great. But the fear is greater. I know that I will have days when I wish I could make a different decision. However, for me and my life, it's just not an option. I cannot live my life wondering.

I know that there are things I could do. I know that I could preserve eggs. However, I have discussed the option with my doctor, and I can't say I am up for what it would take to make that happen. It would be adding more to my plate than I can physically bear right now. Plus, I know that I won't be able to carry any of those eggs until I am at least 40 because of my treatment plan. Having been through a high risk pregnancy before cancer, at the relatively young age of 31, there would be far more risks associated with it for me now. On top of that, I just can't see putting us through something so traumatic if I don't have to. There are enough traumatic things happening that I don't have a choice in. I can't see choosing to add one more.

At this stage, walking away from the hope of having more children is incredibly hard, but it's not as devastating as the fear of waiting for the results of a biopsy or a pet scan. Having walked down the painful path of infertility previously, and now the devastating path of cancer, I believe I can make a uniquely educated decision. I choose secondary infertility. Please, please, please know, that statement is NOT meant to belittle the pain of infertility, but rather to highlight the enormous pain of fear. Fear is almost as toxic as cancer itself.

Steve and I have also given thoughts to other options. At this time, they are not viable for us. I believe my little family unit is complete. I am blessed with the most precious son. I should count that blessing because it is worth more than I could even dream. He is the source of my strength and hope. He is my miracle. How selfish would it be for me to expect or want more than what I have already been given?

Please don't judge us for making a perhaps somewhat selfish and rash decision. Please know that it is a brutal decision to have to make... But it's one we are faced with none the less. And one that we believe is in the collective best interests of our long life together as a family.

I pray that no one reading this ever has to make the same choice.


  1. Nicole-

    I think you are the most beautiful, most selfless, most courageous people I know. I know that your decisions you are being forced to make are not easy, and I wish, with my whole heart, that I could be able to carry a baby for you (because believe me, in a heartbeat I would). However, with my eggs, there's a 50% chance that I could have a baby with Apert Syndrome, and as much as I know how difficult my life has been with all of my own struggles, I would never, ever wish someone else to have a baby with the Apert (though with every birth, 1-160,000 births are Apert births-if any of that makes sense). You and your beautiful family are always in my thoughts and prayers, and I have been adding you to the prayer book in church, and at the hospital as well. Hugs to you.

  2. Your decisions will be the right ones for the three of you, and that's all that matters. The courage, selflessness, faith and love that have led you to these decisions are evident and humbling. Stay strong.

  3. Nicole - I would never use the word selfish when it came to you or Steve. The decision you make is for the 3 of you & nobody can make it for you. You are in no way selfish to decide to do what is best for your family!!! When I had to decide to have my surgery that will eliminate the chnace for another child for us, I admit I struggled but it was what best for my family. I am here if you ever need to talk about it. I was thinking this morning of you & Steve coming to a gig years ago & Steve started to not feel well in the crowded room & you took him by the hand. I saw then the two of you supporting each other & you have each other to make these decisons together for you, Steve, & Steven. You are amazing...I Love you! Denise

  4. This is your decision, it is your body. You are the only one to know how it feels getting that scary diagnosis and when you never hear it again you will know you did the right thing. I felt like humpty dumpty, they did put me back together again and you will be the same person. God has the plan, you will know what it is in time the why's and what reasons. I always wanted a girl and had 2 miscarriages after my youngest son. Now I know why, Im just glad I am here to take care of my family and we all have extended families. You guys are one unit and there will always be lots of kids around, that is how I feel. I can't wait to get together with you...once again your amazing!!!!! You can't get enough of that..xoxox Helen