Pregnancy, Chemotherapy, and Parallels.

11 02 2011

My beautiful niece, Natalie, celebrating life at her bridal shower last July.

Yesterday afternoon, I was just so sad and mad, all at the same time.

Sad because I’m going through a second breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. And this time, the stakes — the cancer’s staging — are so much higher.

Mad because I’m going through this all over again, and I hate it. Treatment makes me feel awful. Nauseous, light-headed, fatigued.

Today is treatment #4. So, after today, it’ll be four down, 20 more to go, just to get to the point where my oncologist will even consider stopping the treatments. I’ve got a long road ahead.

I decided that in order to mentally survive this current tour of duty, I’ve got to rethink my strategy. Being angry at the cancer, sobbing over the unfairness of it all, wanting to scream out of frustration long enough and loud enough that everyone in metro Detroit can hear me is a strategy, I suppose.

But only a short-term one, for the times when I’ve really had it. Fifteen minutes here, an hour there. That is reasonable every now and then. Long term, though, looking out at the weeks and months that I will need to endure to get to the other side of this treatment — well, screaming, yelling and crying isn’t going to help me. It’s only going to wear me out. I’ve got to restrategize.

And then it came to me. I need to make a paradigm shift in the way I’m approaching my treatments. I need to think about them less as something that’s killing bad things in my body, and more as something that, at its culmination, will actually bring forth new life.

What I’ve come up with is going to sound a little crazy, but stay with me here.

Chemotherapy treatments and pregnancy share many parallels.

My niece, Natalie, and her husband, Blake, are expecting their first child on June 21, 2011 — the Summer Solstice. It suddenly hit me the other day, when Natalie and I were sitting at Nello’s Diner in Royal Oak, craving their homemade rice pudding with whipped cream, how much our two conditions have in common.

She gets nauseous. So do I.

She craves food. So do I.

She experiences fatigue and wide emotional swings. So do I.

Her goal is to give birth to a beautiful, healthy new life.

So is mine. Cancer-free, treatment-free, run-through-the-grass barefoot in exhiliration new life.

I’ve decided that, from here on out, that’s the way I’m going to think about it. The nausea, treatments, cravings, fatigue, doctor’s appointments — they’re all about bringing forth new life on the other side of this. Just as if I were pregnant.

And, in an ironic twist, it just so happens that the estimate for the duration of my chemo treatments — four to six months — gives me an end-date right around Natalie’s due date.

Perhaps we will be celebrating the gift of beautiful, new life, together — two-fold.

Copyright 2011, Amy Rauch Neilson

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35 responses

11 02 2011
Elaine

That’s good thinking and we will celebrate a new life and so much more now and forever! 🙂

11 02 2011
brian Murphy

Amy, you continue to AMAZE me! Seeing you and your niece on parallel journeys is profound.

11 02 2011
Amy Rauch Neilson

Brian! I just wanted to make sure you and I had something deep to discuss when I see you on Wednesday! I never COULD keep up with your brain!
Love,
Amy

11 02 2011
crystal

Amy, you never fail to bring me to tears – sympathetic and happy. I love to read your writing. Praying for you daily and lifting you up. Also sharing you with my friends. I hope your day is awesome and that #4 is the easiest yet. Much love, crystal

11 02 2011
Don

But what will we call it!

11 02 2011
Amy Rauch Neilson

I don’t know, honey. I named the first one. You name this one!

14 02 2011
Andrea Scatuccio

Call her “Hope.”

11 02 2011
Mary Goedert

What a great example of the “Power of Postivite Thinking” and “Paradigm Shifting”!!! Super post, Miss Amy!!!

11 02 2011
Mary Goedert

On a personal note…are your Rauch relatives from the Monroe area?

11 02 2011
Karen Kramer

Hello Amy. I just subscribed to your amazing blog and pray that you reach your numbers. As a fellow BRCA positive woman, I am inspired by all that you are sharing. I will pray for you. Best, Karen

11 02 2011
ellynd

Wow. You are a wonderful person. I always told people that chemotherapy reminded me a lot of the first trimester of pregnancy except that no one felt bad for me when I was pregnant.

11 02 2011
Laurie Horn

I see a summer solstice party in the works. Beautiful comparison. You continue to amaze me, Amy. Love you.

11 02 2011
Amy Rauch Neilson

Laurie,
I see a Summer Soltice party in the works – and you singing at it! Deal?!
Love,
Amy

11 02 2011
celia

Excellent point of view.

11 02 2011
Jo Anne Braun (Sherri's Mom)

This helped my girlfriend who went through her second breast cancer ordeal (and is just fine right now!!). Hope it lightens the load just a little bit. Love you.

Cleaning for a Reason

If you know any woman currently undergoing chemotherapy, please pass the word to her that there is a cleaning service that provides FREE housecleaning – once per month for 4 months while she is in treatment. All she has to do is sign up and have her doctor fax a note confirming the treatment. Cleaning for a Reason will have a participating maid service in her zip code area arrange for the service. This organization serves the entire USA and currently has 547 partners to help these women. It’s our job to pass the word and let them know that there are people out there that care. Be a blessing to someone and pass this information along.

http://www.cleaningforareason.org/

11 02 2011
ebc

Love this point of view and thinking! Very very awesome! (former peds onc SW and came over from an infertility blog who said you were looking for subscribers to help you get closer to your book publishing goal).

11 02 2011
angie

Love the paradigm shift thinking. It totally makes sense in so many ways. Have been praying for you both, and now it will be even better! You go, girls!

11 02 2011
Linda Stanislawski

I love what you had to say today. I think you were inspired by God. I was reading this morning about how if we keep our minds on what is lovely and good and praise worthy, that we will have God’s peace. So keep believing for that new life and we will pray and believe with you.

11 02 2011
Taylor Blake

That just made me cry!

11 02 2011
Jennifer Fink

What a beautiful analogy, Amy!

11 02 2011
Sherri

CRAVINGS: Beautiful blog baby – beautiful mind. What are you craving? Fatigue drives sugar/fats/salt cravings – eating a piece of cheese helps. Recommend the cancer fighting cheeses: gouda, edam ,emmenthal, Jarlsburg. Also the Republic of Tea: Get Lost (on the way…) – has sugar curbing herbs in there… You will need more protein than normal while going through chemo… Wish I could send you a personal chef! Love you Aims –

11 02 2011
Priscilla Schultz

No and’s, if’s ,or but’s, God will show us this miracle. I feel it down to the very core of my soul. God only wants us to thank him and praise him. I have been on F/B for only one year and since Amy has gotten sick again I have seen his name mentioned more than ever. He also knows we need Amy more.

11 02 2011
Bob Adams

Hey Amy, look at this way… only Natalie gets stretch marks!!!!

11 02 2011
Adrienne Leonard

Amy, you’ve stumbled upon very positive thinking to give very positive results. As I read this blog, I thought how much your thinking resembled that of Louise Hay. She overcame CA by resolving to think of treatments as “washing away” what didn’t belong in her body, not thinking of “killing” or “blasting out” her tumor. She wanted gentleness, not violence. There’s a lot more in any of her books, which I’m sure information is available on-line. She writes very lovingly and gently. As I said before, you have an attitude that will keep you a winner (but screaming out the bad stuff could be a relief once in a while, too)!
PS: The next space shuttle will carry your lovely thoughts right up to heaven!

11 02 2011
Julie Peace

Beautiful Sis, I can’t wait to celebrate ‘two-fold’ come June…and as Linda S. wrote, between now and then ‘keep believing for that new life and we will pray and believe with you’. Love you darlin.

11 02 2011
Karen

What a beautiful way to look at this… I can picture you running through a field of green grass and flowers. So breath takingly beautiful!!!

11 02 2011
Kristi Rugh Kahl

Don and Amy…………you call it SUNSHINE !! Favorite color – yellow and new light of life 🙂 Can’t wait to celebrate with you and the summer SUNSHINE !

11 02 2011
Amy

You were put in this position for a reason and I for one am hoping for a “rebirth of Amy” come June. You’ve got an army behind you. I am so thankful that I stumbled across your blog, without you, I wouldnt have been able to meet your beautiful sister and been given that “face to face” connection that I needed. I am sooo looking forward to meeting you soon.

11 02 2011
Tami

This is beautiful, Amy, and a wonderful way to look at things. I have told Mike on multiple occasions that chemo makes me feel as crappy as I did when I was pregnant with my kids – but I never thought about the parallel of the end result. Your positive thoughts are helping me as well. Lots of love to you!

11 02 2011
Jerry Zezima

Stay positive. And keep writing. You’re good at both.

12 02 2011
Lynn Shuck

I have only been reading your blog for a few weeks. Jennifer Nemeth is our mutual friend and she encouraged me to sign up. At first I did it out of my friendship for Jen. Then I started reading. But this is the first post that makes me want to reach out to you. I work with pre & post-natal women through yoga and have for over a decade. I have also helped women get through different kinds of “pregnancies” as I help them see the similarities between the adoption process and pregnancy. I have used metaphor as a healing tool in my own work recovering from injury. For all these reasons, your blog moves me today. I hope to be reading about you and your niece’s births in June.

12 02 2011
jennifer nemeth

I like Kristi’s suggestion of Sunshine. Or how about Freedom!!?? Any name will be joined with a marvelous celebration of ur beautiful life and family and future.

12 02 2011
Helene Rabinowitz

Dearest Amy, you pay homage to the power of words, the power of thoughts and I pay homage to the power of “you”. Loving you so very much

13 02 2011
Jennifer

I pray that you do get to walk into that new life just as Natalie will. I’m sorry you are going through all that you are, but I am praying for you here in Baltimore!

13 02 2011
Angie

Amy, you are beautiful! You make me smile.

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