Ending Treatment: A guest post by Sherri Fillipo
Sherri Fillipo is a now-retired registered nurse. On her blog she writes “This is my story – living and dying with metastatic breast cancer. Once a nurse and now a patient, I love how seaglass captures what cancer has done for me
– softened and rounded my hard edges. Like the sea does to glass…” This post appeared on her blog on the 16th of April, and I am very pleased to have received Sherri’s permission to republish it here today.
Please welcome Sherri as she tells us about her difficult decision, and show her all the love we share at Telling Knots.
I had a face-to-face discussion on Tuesday with my dear physician. Let’s just say I was too choked up to write about it until now. I can’t describe how sad we both were. She is so genuine and so lovely and so kind. I tell you, I kept patting her knee telling her it was ok. When we both started crying, she jumped up to find a tissue box but alas there was none so there we sat crying into paper towels. Not a tissue to be found in that exam room.
What I told her is what I told you several blogs back – that I was going to the beach and living without the shackles of cancer for the summer. No treatment, no scheduling my trip around chemo days. I was just going to give myself and my family all of my time and my energy. If the reduced chemo had been kinder to me, I might not have come to such conclusions but it hasn’t been.
She said that she knew I understood what I was doing but she articulated it anyway: the cancer would progress. I confirmed to her that I knew. What surprised me was that she said that she didn’t have anything else to offer that wouldn’t give me the same issues that I have been dealing with and that’s when it hit me just exactly what I had done. I had closed the door. We just looked at each other and started crying again. She said, “I try to at least leave the room before I let a tear fall.” I told her I was fine with her crying in front of me, that her genuiness was what was so lovely about her.
At the end of the discussion, she asked if she could pray with me. She took my hands and patient and physician prayed and cried. We hugged and said good-bye.
This entire post is very intense and sad for me. Intense because I am not at that stage (yet) and just yesterday I was talking to my partner about this subject. I told him there may be a time when I decide to stop treatment too but that right now I still want to continue with treatments (my case is different, I am on tamoxifen. I want to be a mother). I also thought of being stage 4 and the possibility of stopping treatments one day, because I have seen it happen so many times. And as a survivor it is very difficult for me to see others do that for many reasons: 1) it makes me question my existence; 2) I want them to be well too; 3) I don’t understand why such decisions have to be made…because I am not there (yet) 4) It reminds me of how little we’ve done for stage 4. And it worries me.
It also makes me sad.
Dear Sherri: I want to say I am sorry you had to make such decisions. I am sorry we have the “system” we have today and that organizations are continuing to do things backwards ( focusing on “awareness, for example, instead of focusing on WHY cells travel). This isn’t fair. I truly hate it. I am sorry.
At the same time I feel I can do this too. As I am reading your post, I feel like there comes a time when we accept our reality and in some way we become at peace with it. It is still hard, I am sure…maybe not. This is the way the message comes through to me. It makes me feel that it is OK to let go. It really is. I too believe that.
Thank you for sharing your story. Enjoy the beach.
I will add you to my prayers for inner peace.
Hugs to you.
Thank you for your kind words. It may be easier for me to write about this topic as it appears we are at different places in our lives. I am praying you will get to be a mother. I will thankfully see my son graduate from college in a few weeks.
God Bless you and your family. I know the decision is a hard one, especially as a nurse. You have a better understanding of this since you are a health care professional. As a metster I know that one day I will also run out of options and I have already come to the decision that I will know when enough is enough. Enjoy your family time and your beach time. I am fortunate enough to live on the Gulf Coast and enjoy our beautiful beaches year round. There is no greater peace for me than sitting in the sand listening to the crashing waves. It soothes my soul. Again God Bless.
Thank you. I agree. You will know when it’s time. God bless you as well.
What a courageous decision you have made Sherri !!! I hear you that the side effects are worse than any result you may gain from the drugs, and I can fully understand your desire to spend time with your family and being able to ‘enjoy’ them. May your time be precious and memories kept to warm the days ahead.
Thank you. I believe it will be a great summer.
I sincerely hope your remaining time is filled with love, laughter, and good spirits. May God always be at your side for the rest of your journey.
Thank you. And by your side as well.
Beautifully said and done. I hope my Dr is as genuine and authentic when my time comes to call for an end to treatment. I had to give up on one treatment because side effects were overwhelming my quality of life. It was difficult to take that option off the table, but the right decision. I believe (and hope) we will all have the clarity of vision you have, when the moment arrives. I wish you peace and a beautiful summer with your family Sherri. I feel you know what you are doing is right, and that makes it so. Best, Gail
Thank you Gail. You will know when the time is right. God bless you and your family,