Spoiler Alert: I’m still alive.

Alive KickingLike so many other people I have had a challenging life, but as hard as the universe seems to be trying to kill me sometimes, I’m still alive. I’ll leave out the iffy moments in my childhood and go straight to my adult adventures.

There was the time in Northern California that I was driving my beautiful canary yellow 1959 Chevy Malibu and did not have a seat belt on. I crashed into a redwood tree. The front of the car accordionned and the steering column went right through the back of the driver’s seat. I was tossed sideways into the front passenger seat. Ended up with a mild concussion and a bruised chest.

I was also driving when I was in the worst accident of my life. Four people died in that accident. I was thrown free of the car and suffered minor physical injuries. The psychological damage was much greater and I’d rather not go into it. The point here is that I was the only one of the five people in the car who survived.

One more car accident. I was a passenger this time, riding near the Israel-Jordan border. The car overturned a couple of times I think. My memory of the accident is fuzzy (the head injury was a bit more serious than the one in California), but I know that again my injuries were relatively minor and I was discharged to home after getting my cuts stitched and being observed for about 24 hours.

Not exactly a car accident, but still involving a motor vehicle, the bomb on the bus. I wrote about it extensively in earlier posts, so I’ll just give the rough outline. The bomb was under the driver’s seat and I was seated on the second bench behind him. The driver heroically managed to park the disabled bus at the side of the highway. I was injured but not critically.

In terms of stationary inanimate objects trying to kill me, there was the time the ceiling of my apartment in a century-old stone house fell down on me. I got a twisted ankle while clearing the rubble in front of me to get out.

What else? Oh, right. There was the time that idiotic doctor ordered intravenous penicillin and the idiotic nurse gave it – even though there was a big red drug sensitivity sticker on the front of my chart. (This was before EMR, children.) I suppose if you have to have anaphylactic shock, a hospital is the best place for it.

Then cancer


Scanning electron micrograph of a breast cancer cell.

And so forth and so on. You get the idea. Let’s skip forward to cancer because when the universe wants to kill you and is getting frustrated, cancer is the next step.

When I was first diagnosed, I was told old bromides like “if you have to get cancer, breast cancer is a good one to have”. (Okay, but why did I “have” to get it?) The pathology report on my primary tumor came back “mostly DCIS” and my doctors were vying with one another in telling me how good that was. “If you have to get breast cancer, this is the good kind.” (Oh goody.)

Within a year, we now know, the part that was invasive and not in situ would do what invasive ductal carcinoma does. It began to invade. It was just lymph nodes and bones, and after some very difficult treatment it was just in my bones. More difficult treatment and it was still in those bones plus some others. After some more time there was a suspicion that it was in the top of my skull, but those lytic lesions were finally diagnosed as venous lakes (which is a great stripper name and a no-big-deal radiological finding). That diagnosis was later corrected: oops, sorry – they are osteolytic mets after all. Sorry about that. At my last scans the mets were in my spine, a couple of ribs, my sternum and my skull.

Not very long after that diagnosis I decided to stop receiving treatment. There were a number of factors involved in my decision. I was sick and tired of my oncologist and we had a final falling out. All this time and all these horrendous chemotherapy side effects had enormously affected my quality of life. Finally, people generally don’t die of bone mets alone. So I decided to stop treatment.

I fully expected to die within a year or two. Boy was I surprised! Turns out my cancer, while not stable, is very slowly progressing. I’m assuming that the fact that it’s estrogen-positive and I am post-menopausal is probably a factor.

Whatever the reason, I’m still alive. Stopping treatment was the right decision for me. My activities are still pretty limited because of fatigue, pain, and a permanently impaired immune system, but at least I don’t have to deal with the side effects of chemotherapy. I know that situations and circumstances are dynamic and I am fully prepared to revisit my situation should things change.

For the time being, though, I am enjoying the life I have and living as large as I can. Take that, universe!

“Alive and Kicking” image copyright Constantin Stanciu

Scanning electron micrograph of breast cancer cell by unknown photographer [public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

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31 Responses

  1. Maxine D says:

    So very thankful that you are still alive and kicking Knots :-). I dislike the fact that you have to live with all the side effects of chemo and mets, the pain, neuropathy and memory issues, but I do enjoy reading your posts.
    Blessings, prayers and gentle {{{{{cyber hugs}}}}}

  2. emma says:

    OMG. I have to say it; you are strong, strong, strong. xxx

    • Knot Telling says:

      You know quite well that I’m not that strong. (At least you do if you’re the Emma I think you are.) I’m just really, really stubborn and persistent.
      On the other hand, I do love that thing that says, “Dear whatever is making me stronger. You can stop now.” 😉

  3. John Boyd says:

    You provide such a service, writing so vividly. Fortunately for us, your devoted readers, you appear to have plenty of lives, and lines, left!!!

    • Knot Telling says:

      Thanks, John. My mother used to call me “pussy cat” when I was a little girl; maybe I have nine lives? Thank you for your very kind words.

  4. Kathi says:

    Well, heck, girlfriend! The universe has evidently tried, but has not thus far succeeded, in getting rid of you! For that, I am very thankful. Glad you’re still here. Oh, and wear your seatbelt. Or avoid motor vehicles entirely, if possible. xoxo, Kathi

    • Knot Telling says:

      Yes, cars are not my friend. On the other hand, had I been belted into the Chevy…

  5. Elizabeth J. says:

    The universe may have been trying to get rid of you, but obviously God still has a purpose for you here. Keep writing, dear friend. You speak to and for so many of us.

  6. Dorry says:

    It looks like it’s pretty darn difficult to kill pure love.
    And that’s how I see you.
    Pure Love!
    I love you!

  7. Colleen Logan Hofmeister says:

    Ah, my dear friend Knots, I so adore your “spunk” (queue Lou Grant telling Mary Richards, “And I hate spunk!”) I, too, have had a universe aiming at me for many years–my husband said to me decades ago, “You truly are a shit magnet, aren’t you?” Spared from car accidents, I was in buildings THREE times when cars/trucks slammed into them and came stumbling out of the rubble no worse for wear. I’ve been wandering around in metastatic flip flops for eight years now. Recently, I had a HUGE falling out with my oncologist (the woman has no business treating cancer patients, she had the nerve to tell me she “wouldn’t put her license on the line” to fill out the paperwork I need to take a disability retirement but that’s a whole nother story). Since I’ve pretty much been taking a break from active treatment for several years, I’m not too worried about it. Keep on keeping on my dear!

    • Knot Telling says:

      Gosh, Colleen – are you me in a parallel universe? You keep on the keeping-on track, too!

  8. Rebecca says:

    That’s insane the amount of times you’ve been in danger. I am sorry. I have only experienced this type of fear 2x, once with cancer. The other time was with an elevator.

    I have a curiosity, do you feel like somehow you’ve built an immunity for all these “scares” or has each experience been super scary? Has it helped you cope in some way? I asked because ever since I had the scare with the elevator, I no longer think cancer would be the only reason I could die from. I convinced myself I would die from my bc when I was dx. Then I almost died inside an elevator and actually laughed (!!) because here I am worried about cancer — not that I shouldn’t be — when I can easily die on an elevator. When comments are made about this type of situation, I don’t like it, “you can always get hit by a car tomorrow.” But when you actually experience it, it’s another awakening.

    Selfishly or not, I am glad you are still with us.

    • Knot Telling says:

      Yes, it is insane, Rebecca!

      No, nothing gets easier for me. The cancer doesn’t scare me any more, but bombs and stuff? Yes. A lot.

  9. Count me as another one who is so grateful you’re still here. I’m sorry about all the pain of various kinds you’ve had to deal with though. Thank you for sharing with us.

  10. Wow! Knot, you really are a survivor!

  11. Kimberly says:

    Oh wow, Knot! What a life story. And I am among the many who are SO glad you’re still here. xx

  12. susan says:

    I completely understand your decision regarding treatment. With a diagnosis like ours it’s more about quality of life. I’ll be discussing either switching treatment or stopping altogether until progression.

    Clearly, based on your past, your presence here on earth is more important than being with the big guy. I happen to agree. Xox

  13. A great stripper name! Lol! I’ve been learning not to go all gushy, but I can, if you want… I love you so much, and I’m also so very glad you’re still alive. I’ve had a few near death moments myself, but you win hands down for persistence and beating the odds! Even with MBC, you’re an outlier, of course you are! xoxo

  14. Beth Gainer says:

    So glad you have survived. I read about the bombing on the bus incident — scary, but I didn’t know about the car accidents. I’m glad you made it through.

  1. 30 May, 2015

    […] blog title of the week award (if there was an award!) goes to Knot for Spoiler Alert: I’m still […]

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