Tuesday, May 10, 2022

I'm Still Here



I’m grateful to still be here. 


So grateful. 


Right now I’m writing from a cushy chair in the lounge of my hotel in Savannah, GA. There is a musician with a gorgeous voice performing singer/songwriter material that is melting my soul. I have a mimosa in front of me, and it all feels blissful. 


Life, itself, is anything but blissful. It’s really hard. And it’s been so hard that I’ve neglected to do updates for almost a year. So I’m going to have to divide this update into parts: I’m Still Here (today’s medical update), My Wedding, Performing WIT, and installment #4 of Dear Mom.


As I had mentioned in my last post, in July 2021 I had to switch to a new chemo after they found a growth in my liver. And as predicted, 3 weeks before my wedding that new chemo caused me to lose all my hair. Luckily I got a really great wig thanks to 5 Under 40 - an organization that supports breast cancer patients who were diagnosed younger than 40. 


Photo by Shirin Tinati

This treatment did not work well for me. Despite seeing some reduction in tumors in my lungs and bones and stability in my brain, the tumors kept growing in my liver. They decided to keep me on the treatment for a little longer than normal to see if things would turn around, but alas all that happened was the liver tumors got larger and became more numerous. So, in mid-March they switched me to Doxil, also known as “The Red Devil” because of its toxicity and its bright red color. 


"The Red Devil"

My hair *is* growing back on this drug (I have some eyebrows again!) But good news always seems coupled with bad news: my brain tumors have not been decreasing and have been causing me to have seizures. So now I have to have a special kind of radiation called proton therapy - which will radiate my whole brain and spine - and make me lose whatever hair I have grown back.


My first seizure was December 1, and I had no idea I even had one - because I was unconscious for all of it. It was what is known as a tonic-clonic seizure (once called a Grand Mal.) One moment I was saying, “I don’t feel so well,” and the next thing I knew there were paramedics in our apartment demanding that I leave with them in an ambulance. I told them I didn’t have a seizure - I didn’t remember having one! (Not only was I unconscious, but seizures can cause severe confusion and lapses of memory upon the seizure ending and waking up.) After many, many minutes of trying to fight off the paramedics, I begrudgingly agreed to be taken to the hospital. I was admitted and was there for two days, never making it out of the ER because they didn’t have a room/bed for me. I did get moved from the main ER into the hallway - at least it was quieter there. 


My second seizure I was alone at home. For this one I also went unconscious, but I knew what was happening before I fully passed out. (I also had less confusion coming out of it.) The seizure started in my right foot - I had uncontrollable jerking, cramping, and numbing of the foot, which then traveled up the leg. Once it hit my stomach I knew exactly what was happening and I tried to relax myself to stop it from going further but you can’t really control your body at that point. I tried to breathe deeply and realized I couldn’t breathe, and then I passed out. When I came to, my books (which were next to the couch) were scattered - so I knew that I jerked while seizing. Also, my leg muscles were in pain from the cramping. No need for the hospital this time - I just called my doctor and was told to double my anti-seizure meds. 


What an adventure. 


Finally, for about 3 weeks in April I had some sort of illness that caused me to be extremely nauseated 24/7 and I had zero appetite. Like, I couldn’t eat anything at all, no matter what time of day. As a result, I lost weight and muscle mass, and had no energy. And then one day it miraculously got better. My doctors were baffled by it. It started on my “off week” of chemo, so we know it wasn’t because of chemo. But there are other no explanations that make sense. 


So when I started to feel better, in late April, I decided it was time to travel. I don’t know how much time I have left in this lifetime, but I had a bit saved up from donations made by you all, and I don’t want to wait to explore and enjoy what life I have left. So here I am in Savannah, enjoying a slow pace, warmer weather, and anxiety-free time to just BE. 


Like I said, I’m so grateful to be here, still. 


The view from my balcony out on Ellis Square

Fun fire pit on the hotel's terrace


PS: Also grateful for my friends who immediately thought of "Follies" when reading the title of this blog.




So many wonderful people have asked me what they can do to help as I navigate this devastating disease. So I’ve put together this list of things that I will need as I continue treatment. 


Donations: 

You can donate via my Go Fund Me account here: https://www.gofundme.com/erin-cronican


I will be using any money raised to help with lost wages as I go through treatment and to handle any medical expenses that aren't covered. It will also relieve some of the pressure off Brynn from having to carry so much while I’m in treatment. 


Gifts:

Gift Certificates for massage therapy, facials, pampering

Amazon gift cards 

Anything you think might brighten my day (I love handmade/artisan stuff - Etsy, etc)


My address:

165 E 87th Street #3FW

New York, NY 10128


Mail: 

I love getting cards and things in the mail, so anything you want to send would be appreciated. 



Thank you so much for helping me manage this diagnosis with grace, ease, and a little bit of fun. It means the world to me. 



Erin Cronican is a Stage IV breast cancer patient, whose career as a professional actor, producer, and career coach has spanned the last 25 years in New York City, Los Angeles and San Diego. She has appeared in major feature films and on television, and has toured nationally and appeared Off Broadway with several plays and musicals. She is currently the Executive Artistic Director of The Seeing Place Theater in NYC. For more information, please visit www.erincronican.com or www.seeingplacetheater.com.


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