A journey

Happy Thanksgiving.

Sometime in mid-August, I woke up with pain in my right shoulder that started in my shoulder blade. Of course I thought I had just slept in a bad position and had pulled a muscle. When the pain persisted, I made an appointment with my PCP. She had an x-ray taken and told me it was arthritis; not surprising, since I have osteoarthritis in other places. When it seemed to be getting more intense, I got a pain shot, thinking that it was inflamed and was constantly irritated. By this time, I could not shift my car into park, shake hands, or reach for my coffee cup on the top of the desk without excruciating pain. 

When it continued, I requested physical therapy. After eight sessions, there was no improvement. I took a break to go to Chicago to meet my new grandson and visit with my daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter. While there, I found that I could not reach across the table to draw UNO cards. Once home, I requested an appointment with an orthopedic specialist. Without any diagnostic tests, I was told it was probably tendonitis and was given a cortisone injection. I was told to wait a week and if it didn’t work, I should request an MRI to determine if I had torn ligaments that would require surgical repair. I called after four days because I could no longer do even the simple household tasks without serious pain. They reassured me that I needed to give it a full week. I called again on the seventh day and finally got an MRI scheduled.

Of course the technicians are not allowed to tell you what they see, but they told me to wait while they consulted with the doctor. Then they told me to go directly to the doctor’s office, that they were expecting me, and “to be very careful of my arm. ” All I could think of was that I had a severe injury and would need immediate surgery. It was scary. The news was even worse – I have bone cancer. 

Because I am a breast cancer survivor, the assumption is that it is the same type of cancer that has returned. So far I have had a bone scan, and am scheduled for a CT scan and a biopsy to see if the cancer is localized or spread throughout my body. I will not have all the results until early December. One of the scariest things is that the doctor said that the cancer has weakened the bone and if I am not careful, it could break. I have Googled all kinds of information and found several pieces of information that were new to me.

The first thing I learned made me angry. One of the causes of bone cancer is due to radiation treatment for a previous cancer. That’s another side effect that was never mentioned to me, in addition to permanent damage to my left arm from the actual surgery. The other thing I learned is that there is a nerve that runs from the liver to the right shoulder, which is the reason the doctors are ordering a CT scan of all of my major organs. According to my Google research, I don’t have any symptoms of liver cancer, but I want to know if anything shows up.

I know I will have some major decisions to make in the very near future. I am adament that I will NEVER subject myself to chemo, and knowing what I now know, I would not be likely to agree to radiation either. I started doing two things as soon as I got the diagnosis: one) I got a little journal where I list the best things that happen each day to keep myself focused on the positive; and two, I changed my diet to try to make my body more alkalaine. I’m not certain, since it has only been a few days, but I seem to have a greater range of motion without pain, so I am hopeful.

For anyone reading this, I ask several things. First, no pity. I am not defined by my cancer. Second, if you have a relationship with God, pray for me. I am not afraid of death, and am ready spiritually, but I have things I would like to do on earth before that day, and I would much prefer not to be in pain. 

I will continue my research, continue my healthier eating, enjoy all of the other parts of my life and wait for all of the test results before I make any decisions regarding treatments.

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