Thursday, April 28, 2011

Uncomfortably Numb

I had read a blog post by my friend Sarah, also known as  The Carcinista, that she had decided to forgo treatment and choose quality of life over quantity.  She has been battling stage 3c ovarian cancer on and off since 2006.  The cancer metastasized to her lungs.  She decided that she didn't want to do more taxol, which makes you lose your hair.  She wants to leave this world with her hair.  Can't say I blame her on that one.  I hated being bald.

So I thought it would be interesting to have her on my podcast.  Not really knowing if she would want to share her story with me.  Its one thing to write about it in the comfort of your own home, its another talking about it.  Sounds kind of weird I know, but since I have been on both sides of the microphone I understand how weird it is to talk about yourself.  Luckily Sarah said yes.

As I listened to her story it reminded me how she was a part of the Inner Tough Girls 12 weeks of transformation, as was I.   I was going through a rough time emotionally during those 12 weeks and I have to say I wasn't the easiest person to deal with  (sorry Angella)  but was grateful for meeting the women in the group. 

Being a cancer survivor/advocate you get caught up in forums, discussions, advocacy, your own survivorship etc.  As some one who has a good prognosis for survival I try not to think about my own mortality.  I did that during treatment.  As survivors we always have that word recurrance on our minds.  In my case it has been shut in the back of my mind.  Not something I think about.

So was surprised about The Carcinista's post.  I know she has been battling ovarian cancer on and off for a while but whenever I read about friends who make the decision to stop treatment it is always shocking to see. 

You always think: WHAT?  Keep fighting!! Don't give up!!

But its not about that is it? 

When you have done all you can, exhausted every option, every treatment, every clinical trial.  EVERYTHING.

When you know that you have fought all you could and now its about quantity vs quality of life. 

 Would you rather spend what you know to be your last remaining days on chemo being bald, feeling like shit, possibly not wanting to be around your family because you have that chemo haze surrounding you?

Or would you want to spend every last waking moment with them, knowing that every day is one day closer to not being with them anymore.

Its a hard decision to make for anyone.  Especially someone with two young children.

As I listened to Sarah tell her story I heard the labored breathing.  I knew it would get harder for her to speak to her husband, to her kids. 

It was hard to listen to, not because her story wasn't interesting, but because as survivors when something like this happens to a friend you can picture it happening to you.  It is one of those surreal circumstances that happens when you are a survivor. 

After I left the studio I called Angella and told her about Sarah's podcast.  Angella had not been online in a while she did not read Sarah's post. 

So I had the dubious honor of telling her about Sarah's choice, while hard, sadly I know she had made the right decision.

After listening to the podcast and informing Angella about Sarah's decision I went home.  Not even knowing what I was feeling. 

How can I be happy for someone who is going to die? 

And why the fuck did I have to be the bearer of bad news?

Now I know in the end, as my good friend Don Wilhelm would have said. "It is what it is"


But it still sucks.

Mel is the producer/co~host of The Vic McCarty Show. Listen Live Monday~Friday 10am-noon eastern time on

Check out my podcast The Cancer Warrior on Available on demand and also available on Itunes.


  1. I have been keeping up on this for a little while now.
    My heart goes out to Sarah and to you. I keep hoping for
    a miracle to happen. It just breaks my heart and I hope I
    never have to make that choice.
    Much peace, love and light.

  2. This was posted by Sarah's husband Ed on May 3rd: Sarah died today. She slept peacefully most of the last few days, but was able to spend really good time w/ friends & family. We miss her greatly and want to send love to all. Thank you for the wonderful words of hope, love and encouragement. Many of you said she made a big impact on your lives, and in turn, I know you made such a profound impact on her life. With love, Ed (AKA Mr. Wonderful)

  3. Mel, The podcast was amazing. I listened to it the day before she died. I can't believe she's gone. The interview is even more precious and powerful now. Thank you for doing it.