January 3, 2013 · 22 comments

I’m a classic under-reactor. Some people are over-reactors; I am decidedly not. I haven’t I am not sure if I’ve always been this way or if it’s “new” since I had kids, but I know it annoys people that I can be so calm sometimes.

I’m of the (general) opinion that things are what they are. If it’s something I can change, I will, but if it is something that I have no control over, then I’ve learned that it’s not worth it to freak out or make a big deal out of it. I still get scared and gonna-puke feelings, trust me.

Cancer is one of those things, I guess.  I’m not saying that my original diagnosis, subsequent surgeries, recurrence and treatments didn’t bother or scare me. I guess I just have trust in my doctor and his team and U of M. He says he’s going to cure me and I believe him. I don’t believe I’m being naive or innocent, just that it will all work out…or it won’t.

When I went in yesterday to see my oncologist for my pre-infusion blood work and visit, I told him (well, his PA, first) that I’d been having some abdominal pain. He’s very poker faced (a benefit for an oncologist, I’d guess) so I always try to joke him out of it, just to see him crack. When I plopped on the table, I don’t think either of us really thought he’d find anything aside from yet another goofy side effect that I’ve become famous for. When he told her to see if they could get me in for a CT scan and/or X-ray as soon as possible (read:right then), I demanded, with a laugh, an answer as to what he was thinking. His pause was a little too long for me and when I pushed him he responded with “I didn’t expect to find a mass when I walked in here”. GULP.

We talked about what else it could be (appendicitis, bowel issue, obstruction, perforation, nothing) and we were hoping for the need for an immediate surgery (yes, that sounds odd, but when you have been treated for something unresectable for so long, you begin to look forward to a quick resolution). So, with orders in hand for an X-ray and a CT scan, I left with instructions to return for results when I was done.

The CT wait time was longer than expected, so I wasn’t really expecting him to be there when I got back. His PA was there and told me she was calling and paging radiology to see if they could read it right away. So I stuck around in an empty, silent waiting room, tweeting, checking the dreaded facebook, playing games and reading. She came out a few times to check on me, we chatted and hoped for appendicitis.  When she finally came out, she had reports in her hands and no smile on her face.

The mass wasn’t appendicitis or bowel or anything good…it was a progression of the cancer. I forgot to ask if it was the same nodes expanding again or if it was altogether new, but I suppose it doesn’t matter much unless it’s surgical.

We’re doing the last infusion of IPI tomorrow and today I started back on the low dose of Zelboraf. I had joked that the severity of the pain on NYE made me want to self medicate with the Z. Apparently, my instincts are better than I thought. Once I looked back, I realized that the pain began right after my 3rd dose of IPI – coincidentally a few days after I stopped the Zelboraf. Of course, with the whole “it can get worse before it gets better” thing, I just figured it was my body adjusting.

Anyway, so the point was that I am an under-reactor. I cried when I got to the parking structure and sat in my car and screamed and sobbed for awhile. Then I came home.  I told Mike and we talked about it, we felt ALL THE FEELINGS, and then I talked to Matt a little. (he, by the way, knew exactly what would happen with the meds and next moves – he’s so damn smart). I guess I could scream and yell and freak out more, but it wouldn’t really help. And as much as I wanted to spend the day in bed, hiding from the world, I have 2 boys that need me and need me to be healthy for them. So, I sucked it up, took the boys out to lunch, made up stupid jokes and laughed until we couldn’t.

Of course I’m scared. Of course it sucks. But, it is what it is. As my buddy Shine would say, This too shall pass. I can’t fix it – my mom, as much as she is desperate to, cannot fix it. And I know, as my mom, knowing I’m hurting and sick is devastating for her. I know other people are freaked out and upset and sad and scared and downright pissed (and sometimes, because I’m so “calm” it seems like they’re way more freaked out than I am). But this is life. Well, this is MY life and I just have to deal with it. Maybe if I had more time to focus on it…but probably not.  As is, I have enough other things to deal with – my family, my business, school stuff, etc. If I had time to focus on cancer maybe I would freak out and scream for help more, but now I ask when I really need it and deal with the rest myself. It is what it is. And if that makes me under-reacting, then that’s ok by me.  If I over-reacted, I’d never leave my bed.

I was SO excited yesterday morning because I found my favorite glasses  – I even took the dreaded bathroom selfie! IMG_0539

I hope I find that smile and gleam and the one from the other night at our friend’s place again soon.


{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Amy Helzerman LaVeck January 3, 2013 at 11:08 pm

You are so strong my friend. I am constantly thinking of you and your struggle with this stupid cancer. I am speechless regarding this new/old situtuation. I pray for you and your family daily. I just wish there was more I could do for you and would do whatever you need me too if I wasn’t so far away. So I will do my share of the praying and well wishes. Continue to be strong and smile that beautiful smile as much as you can! Much love.


Dawn January 4, 2013 at 12:35 am

Thank you Amy. I appreciate the prayers and love more than you know. It’s nice to still have you in my life, even though so far away. 🙂


Mom II January 3, 2013 at 11:53 pm

Love you!!!


Dawn January 4, 2013 at 12:34 am

Love you too!


Allison Zapata January 4, 2013 at 12:09 am

Can I hold your hand as you under-react? I’ll wash my hands first because my kids are gross. I love you and I’m sending you a hug and lots of peace and power. xoxo


Dawn January 4, 2013 at 12:33 am

Indeed, you can hold my hand. And please, my kids are gross too, so the hand washing is optional. 🙂 xoxo Thanks for being here.


VDog January 4, 2013 at 12:26 am

Love you honey. You are so strong. We got this. XOXO


Dawn January 4, 2013 at 12:32 am

Yes, we do. XOXO


Dawn January 4, 2013 at 10:48 am



Shine January 4, 2013 at 12:34 am

As a fellow under-reactor I can relate and this too DEFINITELY will pass…but not without lots of other people here for you. Please ask for help when you need it, whether it’s for someone to cook or clean, to watch your boys, or just to talk. We are all here for you honey. We’ll never consider your talk about pains, or side effects or whatever as whiny complaints. That you take everything in stride and deal with it as it comes, be it nausea, joint pain, and that you share it with us is a gift. That you let us in, keep us updated and don’t sugar coat it is to me an honor. Most people don’t share this kind of journey, certainly not with the truth and vulnerability that you have. Again, so proud of your strength and so grateful to be your friend. Big smushy hugs!


Dawn January 4, 2013 at 12:42 am

Aha! You are a fellow under!!! No wonder we get along so well. 🙂
Love you! Thanks…always.


Heather January 4, 2013 at 12:54 am

Oh Dawn. I am an under-reactor in the moment, and then later, when I have the luxury, I kind of shut down. But I can overreact for you, or under-react, or whatever you need. I wish I was closer but you are always in my heart. xoxo


Debbie January 4, 2013 at 12:59 am

I’m sorry I’m the over-reactor, I wish a could be less of one at times and so do my boys. Praying for you and for continued strength and your always present smile.


Mrs. Flinger January 4, 2013 at 1:00 am

I’m pretty sure you can have a team of reactors if you’d like. I’ll sign up. And also bringers of good thoughts and shiny things.

Feeling ALL THE THINGS is hard but I’m proud of you for letting yourself. That’s the first step to beating ALL THOSE THINGS.

xoxo here for you!!!


Kelley @ magnetoboldtoo January 4, 2013 at 1:22 am

Oh my friend. Reading this all my feelings are encompassed in the word onomatopoeia.



Mom January 4, 2013 at 6:32 am

Yes, I tend to over react. Not because I want to, it’s who I am……a Mom that just wants to fix it. Sadly I can’t and that therein lies my frustration. You have handled this with strength beyond your years. You my dear daughter are a blessing to me. Love you and know I’m here for you. ????


sizzle January 4, 2013 at 10:35 am

I’m definitely an over-reactor who wishes she could be more of an under-reactor. We are who are, aren’t we? I hate this for you. I am sending all my good, healthy thoughts your way. You’re such a strong woman and I’m constantly inspired by you.


Califmom January 4, 2013 at 12:55 pm

All my love and strength to you. I know you’ve sent it my way more times than I can count. Wrapping you in all that good juju now.


Lotus January 4, 2013 at 1:06 pm

Love your bathroom selfie. And sending you all the love and hope in my heart. xo


cindy w January 4, 2013 at 4:36 pm

Under-reacting is a good trait for a mom to have, I think. Wish I had more of it.

You kick ass, lady. Hang in there. (And I love those glasses & the selfie.) XOXO


Mike January 4, 2013 at 10:08 pm

Hi Dawn,
Just wanted to chime in with another voice that is sending all the good mojo he can find the way of you and your family!



Alaina January 5, 2013 at 6:27 pm

Blown away by your honesty and the overall positive attitude you have. Huge hugs, and cheers to under reacting. I have always been the same since losing my father when I was 21. Puts things in perspective, as does having cancer.


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