Tough Cookie

“A person who can endure physical or mental hardship; a hardened, strong-willed person.”

During my first round, the most aggressive round, all the harsh chemo chemicals had started taking a toll on me physically & mentally. My family looked horrified each time I would contact them through face time.  I was white as a ghost, skinnier, & lost the rest of the stubble on top of my head.  I had dark circles under my eyes & tubes coming out of my arms & nose.

My parents had been living in Texas for the past 15 years & my brother was about to graduate from college facing a possible football draft to the Canadian Football League.  And their daughter was facing a life threatening illness. I didn’t have good news for them.

I had zero appetite, I could only suck on an ice cube a day, I had a bleed in my intestine from the chemo, I was fevered (100 degrees sometimes more), I had severe pain, I was pale where I’m normally a naturally tanned person, and I was just given the news that my 40% chance of survival turned into 20% chance as I also had the c-kit genetic mutation which put me deeper into the intermediate unfavourable outcome vs the intermediate favourable.  It was chaotic.  I was wiped out.  I was in a horrible place in my head.

I gave the news to my parents and fiancé.  I started to prepare for my funeral.

It was during this I no longer could see anyone as I was at an absolute risk for infection as my counts were: WBC 0.  I felt like death.  I was really down.  My fiancé could visit me but he was so exhausted as well, so he would sleep on the chair beside me.  My sweat & tears were toxic so it was best he did not touch me.  There were times he had to be gowned up & wear a mask.  He also had to wash his hands before entering my room and after leaving.  He could not use my bathroom and had to leave his coat in the family room.

Sometime during this week, he brought me my mail.  Mostly it was bills but this time I had received a card.  It was from my brothers girlfriend.  She mailed it from Russia, as she was visiting her family.  It came at a perfect time,  I sure needed this reminder.  It has been the only card I kept from my hospital days.  In fact I tattooed “tough cookie” on my wrist so when I need that reminder, it’s there.

If anyone understands that dark place you can go or be……it’s me.  This cancer was not the only thing in my life that happened.  It has been only three years and during this time frame I had an aunt that went missing, and when they found her 5 days later, they found she had ended her life, I lost a good friend to leukemia, my other aunt lost her battle to breast/brain cancer, my uncle lost his battle to colon cancer, another uncle to COPD/complications to pneumonia, another uncle same age as me & they still don’t know why he died, and a great friend whom I called a brother just passed away a few days ago.

I also understand triumphs and am very grateful when they come.  My brother did get into the CFL (Canadian Football League) in fact on my favourite team BC Lions. My parents moved back to Canada.  I bought my first house.  My fiancé and I are finally tying the knot.  I am a bunny mom to Alice & Lucy.  I am this years honoured hero for the Leukemia Society of Canada Light the Night Walk in Manitoba.  I have travelled to Jamaica & Tofino.

~B

tough cookie card

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