Happy Sunday supporters! This is a long one so grab some coffee and get comfy…
I have lots to catch you up on since I last wrote. I see that many of you clicked the link in my last entry and read the article that painted a vivid picture of what it is like to be battling cancer. I thank you for reading it as I found it to be pretty insightful.
On Friday I went to the doctor for a routine pre-chemo exam. They did a pelvic exam for the first time in a few months and luckily, everything looked normal as far as she could see. Dr. Robison and I discussed the next steps from here and what I can possibly expect:
- Next Thursday, April 18th will be the beginning of my last scheduled cycle of chemo (HOLLERRRRR!). I will have chemo on Thursday and Friday of that week and my last scheduled treatment will happen the following Thursday, April 25th. Stacey, one of my long time best friends/she-wolf, is kindly taking the day off from work to share my last treatment with me. Maybe I should bring some benedryl with me so she can take a nap too because lord only knows I will be passed out the minute that Benedryl IV is hung.
- On Friday, April 26th I’m scheduled for another CT Scan of my chest, abdomen, and pelvis.
- Following my CT scan Dr. Robison will meet with tumor board. They will look at the trends in my CA125 levels, compare my CT scans to make sure nothing new has surfaced, confirm that I do not need any additional chemotherapy, and agree on a course of action for my aftercare.
- A week after my CT scan I will again meet with Dr. Robison to review the decisions that tumor board have made and HOPEFULLY if all goes well, schedule a date with the operating room to remove my intraperitoneal port. Normally this can be removed in the office. Because I have had complications with my intestines and scar tissue in the past, she would prefer to do it in the OR to avoid further complications.
I am very excited to see the end of chemotherapy. I know that I am not out of the woods yet and that I cannot even say that I’m cancer free for another 5 years but it is encouraging to even have a glimmer of hope that chemo is done. I am praying that my CA125 levels continue to drop so that tumor board can feel confident about moving me onto aftercare. A positive outlook has carried me through this experience and has worked up to this point. I am still hoping for the best but preparing for the worst. It will be a punch in the gut if my doctor tells me that they found something abnormal in my CT scan but for my sanity, I can’t go there in my head yet. As far as I am concerned at this moment in time I am going to be okay and I WILL move on to aftercare damnit!
So what is aftercare you ask? Great question! The aftercare option that my doctor is going to pitch to tumor board is immunotherapy called Avastin. Research has supported promising results when treating low grade tumors (like mine) in ovarian cancer. In order for cancer to grow and spread, it needs a blood supply and feeds on vascular areas of the body. Avastin is an antibody that targets the protein responsible for facilitating access to the blood supply. Avastin helps prevent this protein from “gettin’ the goods” so to speak. Non-medical translation: if cancer was a vampire trying to suck my blood, Avastin would drive a sharp wooden steak into its heart. My infusions would only be 30 minutes long every third week for a year and it is known to be well tolerated by many patients. Not too shabby.
Gimpy Leg Update:
I’m getting stronger by the day. Just a few months ago my left leg was so messed up that I couldn’t even cross my legs without physically picking up the leg with my arm. Now I am officially walking up and down stairs! A major milestone for me in this portion of my recovery. I bet my occupational therapist would be incredibly proud. At one point in time (even recently) I would step up onto the stair and in my head think “ok, go!” but the message wasn’t making it to the leg. It’s kind of scary when your brain is disconnected from your limbs. I’m happy to see that the message is finally getting there (by Harry Potter owl, naturally).
I have seen my personal trainer twice now and have worked out a handful of times on my own. When we last met and debriefed he told me that he was really blown away by my progress and ability considering the extensive nature of my surgery. He said that he has worked with many women after having C-sections that lack the type of abdominal strength that I have. He thinks that I have the endurance and strength for a single one hour session once per week instead of two half hours. Our goal is to workout together once per week and I am to work out two other days during the week. Eventually we will work up to adding a 4th day where he recommended I do yoga (I miss yoga and love this idea).
I am so happy that I made this investment in myself. It has given me so much more energy and more long and short term goals to work toward. Goal setting is so critical when you have cancer. The smallest of goals can be the most satisfying. A day after my hysterectomy my goal was to take three steps with the help of two nurses, now I’m walking up and down stairs, working out with a personal trainer and on my way to running again eventually. Amazing.
In related news:
In the last few days I have noticed that my ankles are a little swollen. The right slightly more than the left. Both have very small varicose veins forming (I’m too young for this, ugh). Pre-cancer I’d just elevate my feet and think “Whatever, it will work itself out”. Now I can’t help but to agonize over what could possibly be wrong with me. Is it an effect of chemo? Did I mess it up while working out? Are cancer cells causing this to happen? Are they going to have to amputate?! (ok, ok, maybe amputation is a BIT of an exaggeration but you get it). I’m going to show it to my nurse this week and see if I can get some more information. Praying that this is nothing.
In other news:
I’m beginning to lose my eye lashes and eyebrows. I’m not torn up about it but it’s super weird. I looked into fake eyelashes at CVS yesterday for weekend nights that I want to dress up a little. They sell all different varieties, many are far too over the top for my liking, so I haven’t yet decided on a pair that suits me. On top of that- they sell the glue seperately for a whopping 7 bucks! How’s that for some BS? Needless to say I left empty handed while my four remaining eyelashes hanging on for dear life.
In other, other news:
I would like to proudly acknowledge my college friend/former roommate Ashley (Das) Emmanuel for raising a whopping $1650 for St. Baldrick’s Day to benefit children with cancer. She is looking beautiful with her velvety bald head. Her husband Greg even upped the ante by offering to shave his beard in the style of the highest donator’s choice! I love these two and am honored to know them.
That’s all for now, enjoy the rest of your weekend (especially those lucky bastards in Massachusetts that have tomorrow off for Patriots Day. Remind me to rub this in your faces when I have Victory Day off in August and the rest of you non-rhode islanders have to work).