I opened my eyes after a long nap on the sofa to see Bobcat’s big green eyes staring at me. I weakly propped myself up against the pillows and took his furry face into my hands and kissed his the top of his head. He came closer and “kissed” my forehead, then pulled back and continued his concerned stare. “Bobcat, yes, I feel awful but I’m going to be okay—don’t worry sweetie!”
Yet, I knew that something was terribly wrong with me, and so did Bobcat. I could almost hear his mental chatter; the questions in his mind as he tried to understand why I rarely moved from my reclining position on the sofa, why was I sleeping so much and why was I up at 5:00 a.m. dry-heaving so often? Maybe he thought I had a bad case of fur balls…
Like most of us, I was preoccupied with the pandemic and doing all that I could to stay safe and stay healthy, and thought I did so successfully. So when my tight skinny jeans started to become baggy and my usual high-energy self struggled to get through the workday, I figured the weight-loss and unusual fatigue were related to stress from dealing with the COVID way of living—so did my doctor back in July over a zoom appointment. Her recommendation was to self-monitor and if my condition didn’t improve before my annual check-up on September 4th to let her know.
I experienced slow but continued weight loss despite efforts to add more calories into my daily food intake and reduce stress. As my September appointment approached, I began to experience nausea, dizziness, increased thirst…sharp pains in my lower abdomen and relentless mental and physical fatigue. After more blood work, doctor visits, diagnostics, and finally a referral to a gynecological oncologist, my fear of what ailed me became a reality. On October 20, 2020, I was diagnosed with uterine (endometrial) cancer. I was careful not to get COVID, but social distancing and mask wearing doesn’t stop cancer.
Coping with cancer has debilitated every aspect of my being, but in the midst of pain, fear and shock, I found the blessings. I have a compassionate oncologist and medical team at the Hoag Cancer Center; the cancer only metastasized to a lymph node (para-aortic); my treatment includes three rounds of chemotherapy to shrink the large mass; then surgery followed by three more rounds of chemo; and radiation might be a possibility, but I won’t worry about that until if and when I need it. My doctor expects a full recovery whatever the treatment plan turns out to entail. I’ve had two rounds of chemo and with that, signs that the mass is shrinking. The enervating symptoms brought on by the cancer have been reduced to lingering weakness and mild fatigue. Although it may be a few months before I fill out my jeans again, I’m starting to gain weight.
Bobcat’s mood is lighter as he senses the uplifting shift in my energy. I no longer catch him broodingly staring at me. Now, on those tough days following chemo, he curls up next to me and looks at me through slow, comforting blinks that seem to be saying don’t worry, you’re going to be okay.
My gratitude for my support team of family and friends who have overwhelmed me with their compassion, generosity and love goes beyond what words can convey.