Saturday, August 22, 2009

Giving up a year of my life

To save the rest of it.

That's what the doctor told me I have to do to cure this cancer.

I have a daughter that will need me in her life, so that is the plan.

I spent the past week at Sloan. Taking tests. Speaking with doctors.

And crying... a lot of crying.

It is a surreal experience. Trying to understand the complicated schedules and make sense of how my family can manage life without mom.

And not just without mom. Life with a cancer patient.

I'll be treated as an outpatient at Sloan on a clinical trial.

My treatments with be 3 week cycles of chemotherapy for about a year. Typically the cycles are 2 weeks of treatment and 1 week of rest. During my week of rest, I will have to go in for tests.

When I have radiation, it will be 6 weeks with no break. This does not change the chemo schedule.

Some treatments are an hour. Some are ten.

I live about 1.5 hours away from Sloan with no traffic.

So every day is 3 hours longer, just for driving. Probably a little more.

3 hours of being stuck in the car and potentially very ill.

My initial reaction was defeatism.

My next reaction was complete and total fear.

I have a daughter and husband who need me. Who love me.

I am determined to make this work.

I will stay in a hotel on the long days.

I will coordinate a schedule of driving with my family and friends. I hope to have enough people to call when I cannot make it to the city and someone will help.

In the event that falls through, I will use a car service. The sustainability of this option is low for its cost and the emotional drain of being alone. I hope it is a rare thing.

I will sleep in my own bed. I will get to see my daughter and husband everyday.

I will remain positive and strong.

This year of my life. The year I had cancer. The year before I was a cancer survivor starts now.


Anonymous said...

Wish you fast recovery..
As you said, being positive and strong will help you a lot.

Mark Freedman said...

I'm so sorry you have to go through this, Wendy. Lorri and I are praying for you. My father beat cancer twice; the first time was not expected by any doctor except for his own. So I'm sure you'll beat this. Best of everything for you and your family. I fully expect you to speak at our code camp in 2010!

Jenni said...

My goodness. Wow.
The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Hang in there, you can do it.

Lisa said...

I wish I lived nearby so I could offer to drive or do something to help. I wish you lots of courage (which I know you have) and am rooting for you every day.
-- Lis

Anonymous said...

You only have to give up this year if you want to. Having seen several close family members go through chemo, I know this will be a very tough year for you. BUT, it doesn't have to be the only thing you do.

I would challenge you to make this the year you beat cancer and the year you { wrote a book, started an online service, created an online community for X, etc }. Take a peek at some of those things you may not have had an opportunity to accomplish, and maybe think about chipping away at one of them. Sure you won't want to work on it every day, but beating cancer doesn't have to consume your every waking moment either.

Hang in there. My prayers are with you.

Michelle Smith said...

Wendy -- FWIW, you are in GREAT hands. My dear friend Bonnie's son Elias was treated by the Neuroblastoma team at MSKCC, and is now almost 5 years NED (No Evidence of Disease). The pediatric oncologists at MSKCC are an amazing bunch.

Have you found out whether any of the chemo can be done at the Commack location? It's still not around the corner, but it might make for less travel.

May this year go smoothly and quickly, and lead to many many many more.


Jeffrey Stedfast said...

As a completely random person on the interwebs, I wanted to wish you good luck. You seem like a very interesting person in the software industry.

As others have said, you need to stay positive. Luckily you have a family to help motivate you to keep fighting.

You might find Lance Armstrong's book It's Not About the Bike an inspiring read about surviving cancer. I found it really inspiring a few months ago when I read it.

I'll be reading your tweets and hoping to hear about you getting better.

Rob said...

I don't know you Wendy, but I wish you all the best. Hang in there, laugh, enjoy life as much as you can, it'll help you defeat the disease.

You can beat it.

PaduanBenedick said...

Be strong. You already have the mindset to beat this. I know that those words might not seem like much as they come from a complete stranger; please let me share something with you. This is where my journey really began:

I will be a "cancer survivor" by the end of the year.

Be strong. Namaste.

Anonymous said...

From a random stranger who heard about you on Twitter, my heart truly breaks for the struggle you have to face. I don't know you, but I truly wish the best for you and for your family. Be as strong as you can, then just a little bit stronger. My thoughts and well-wishes are with you.

Anonymous said...

It's a tough road, but a road that you can travel with the support of family and friends. If I lived closer than the other side of the continent, I'd volunteer to share chemo buddy duties with everyone else who will jump at the opportunity. Wishing you strength in the coming year. Let me know if there is anything I can do to help.

Anonymous said...

Go Girl! Be strong and kick some ass!

Anonymous said...

You will be fine. Do not fear. You are strong.

Anonymous said...


While I sorry to hear that you and your family have to go through this challenge, I know that you are a intelligent and formidable woman who can stand up to any foe. Know that you and and your family are in our thoughts and prayers.

~ Pat Wicks

Jim Thorpe said...

I am a 33-year-old man whose mother was diagnosed in 1987. She was given six months by her doctors, and she decided that, no thank you, that was not enough. She needed to be there for her kids. She fought it, and her treatment regimen sounded exactly like yours, including the commuting. She went into remission for a few years, but eventually it returned and claimed her…but not before she watched her youngest (me) become a young man. She took a six month sentence and turned it into five years. I watched her suffer through treatment. As a child, I sometimes played a role in holding her up, or helping her to maintain her dignity when she was sick and weak.

But here's the thing: when people ask me who my hero is, to this day I tell them it's my mother. My mother died more than seventeen years ago, I'm crying my eyes out while I write this, and she was an absolute inspiration to me.

I am your daughter. I can tell you now, she will feel this way in 20 years, because of the strength you are showing. Even when you grow weak, sick and weary, your strength will show. And you will survive. I have no doubt in my mind that the treatment options are far more effective today than they were 20 years ago.

Object-Oriented Sammy said...

Wish you all the best; and yes, you can do it, and will.

Daria said...

It sounds like a very tough journey.

Hang in there.

Anonymous said...

Feed your faith and your fears will starve to death.

Charles Dexter Ward said...

There are a lot of us out here in the development world rooting for you.

God bless.

morg said...

hi wendy,

we are both thinking of you. we know you will get through this in flying colors. as you know we have been going through this with my sister out here in CA.

Anonymous said...

You are so brave! I wish I could be there to help out. If there is anything my family and I can do from afar DO NOT hesitate to ask. I love you very much and I'm coming to visit after you're cured!

Cousin Emma

kevin said...

My sister is a cancer survivor. And I will tell you this; everywhere she was surounded by love and strength. Sounds like you as well have the same. I have no doubt that you will come out on top. Piece of advise, get a support group. No one understands better than other survivors. Peace, Love, Unity and Happiness to you and your family.

kevin said...

Hi Wendy. My sister is a breast cancer survivor. And I will tell you this, she had so much love and support not only from her family, but also from her support groups. The next year will be a challenge for you and your family. Just remember to lean on your support group. No one understands what you are going throug getter than they do. I am sure that you will come through this to become a survivor. Peace, Love, Unity and Happiness

Anonymous said...

Praying for you. You are young and strong and have so much to life for. And you will survive. This will be a tough year, but one that will only make you stronger.

Glenn Block said...

Hi Wendy

I am sending prayers your way. I know you must be feeling overwhelmed. Take it one day at a time, and you'll get through. If I can help in any way please let me know.

Wishing you and your family the best.


tehlike said...

You'll be fine, you're young and strong, you can overcome with this little thing.

Elizabeth said...

Stay strong Wendy, you are in my prayers! If I was back in NY I'd even help ya drive in! And old friend of mine beat cancer and so will you!

Steve said...

Wishing you a fast recovery. Be strong, I am sure you can beat this.

Brian said...

Of course, there are many great doctors (and oncologists) here in NY (where I also live)... but there is one I can vouch for out of personal experience.

My wife was diagnosed with 'borderline' tumors over ten years ago, and has been under the care of an oncologist, Dr. Mitchell Maiman, of Staten Island University Hospital, for that entire time. He and his staff are beyond spectacular, both in their ability to treat the disease and the patient. If you ever consider the need for the evaluation of another oncologist, he is one doctor I would recommend without reservation.

Never give up. My wife and I didn't; ten years later we now have two kids (a shock considering she had ovarian tumors!) and today we're stronger than we've ever been.

... And if you ever need help from a fellow New Yorker, let me know.

Anonymous said...

Sharon said...

I believe in you, Wendy, and I am rooting for you.

Anonymous said...


I wish you courage and patience, as you will need a lot of it.
Be patient with your family as well, since for them it is also a lot of worries as they love you very much.
Believe me, my mom had a two years course in chemo, she felt not strong most of the days, but it went away. Now everything almost as were 5 years ago. Faith and courage. Everything will be fine in the end. The show must go on with a bit different rules from now, but it's not that bad when everybody is supporting you. :)
greetings from Lithuania

I said...

Our prayers are with you and your family... I am sure from this journey you will find your very own rainbow and pot of gold :)
Best Wishes...

andrea said...

This year of my life. The year I had cancer. The year before I was a cancer survivor starts now.

wow. just amazing. you will help so many people with your story and how beautifully and fearlessly you tell it.

Fabiano Guazzelli da Silva said...

I went through a health problem which pushed me to "slow down" for a year and I know how hard it is. The good part is when you're fine and good to go back to normal life you're a completely new person - stronger, smarter and with different values in life. How that you have a complete recovery and you use this experience with wisdom. Best wishes