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annual

Mar. 18th, 2010 | 12:22 am

Looks like I'm down to just an annual update cycle at this point! This is a good thing, mostly because it means that cancer isn't generally playing a daily or even weekly role in my life anymore.

I went in for a CT/PET scan a couple of months ago. It was a bit early because I was having some urological issues that they just wanted to make sure were not cancer related. They weren't, however they did find two nodules on my thyroid gland. These are NOT cancerous and are actually fairly common in humans on a whole, but they wanted me to get an ultrasound to get a baseline reading since they seem to be irritating my lymph nodes in the area. Anyway, another scan with no cancer.

I know that I just said that cancer isn't generally playing a daily or even weekly role in my life anymore, but I have to admit that since being diagnosed, death is.
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Here's to moving on to year four cancer free.

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a little (?) behind

Jun. 12th, 2009 | 11:18 am

So, for the few of you who do still read this or for those who might be coming across it for the first time and are looking for hope...I am still here! I think part of my lack of posting to this journal regularly is some superstition about jinxing myself by saying, "Things are good!" though I know that's ridiculous. Anyway...

A couple of months ago I reached the two year mark of being cancer free. Though technically I will not be considered in remission for five years, my Oncologist (I have a new one by the way who is very good and very up to date on treatments, info, etc) told me that with cervical cancer 85% of the time if it's going to come back it will do so in the first two years.

We are both very happy with the progress and I can now drop down to going in for CT/PET scans once a year instead of every six months.

That being said, I still have residual problems from chemo and radiation. I have a bit of memory loss. It seems like it's mostly short term and I have found myself in situations where I ask the same questions multiple times or have had entire conversations with people that I don't even remember meeting (this has happened with customers at work a few times.) And though my digestive system has rebounded somewhat I still have to be careful about what I eat.

Unfortunately, this does not mean I eat HEALTHY all the time as I really can't process fruit or vegetables well anymore, nor am I good with any kind of beans, red meat, or really spicy food. So, I've upped my intake of fish and chicken, but also carbs which has caused me to gain some weight, so I've had to increase my exercise more. And that has been a little hard because I've developed some sleeping issues and I've been fatigued a lot more.

I know it sounds like a lot of shit to deal with (and honestly for someone who NEVER had health problems before getting cancer it's frustrating), but it still FAR outweighs what would have been the other option. You know, DEATH.

So, all in all things are good and I'm sure will only get even better with time.

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really?

Jul. 13th, 2007 | 12:23 pm

Wow. According to my LJ, it has been 12 weeks since my last update. Three months. How the hell did that happen? Anyway...

So, I'm slacking on the updating here. The long and short of it is that things are pretty good as far as I know.

Two weeks ago Erin and I did the Tour de Bosque which is a charity ride benefiting the HIV/AIDS agency we work for. We did the 25 miles and honestly it wasn't bad at all. I expected it to be far more difficult due to my post-chemo/radiation physique, but honestly I'm bouncing back from all of this better than I could have ever hoped for. It's shocking really. In a lot of ways I'm in better shape than I was four years ago.

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Well, it's back to work now. More soon I'm sure.

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Back!

Apr. 17th, 2007 | 03:30 pm

Again, it's been a while and I realized that some people actually do read this. Mostly it has been brought to my attention with people calling and emailing me (with increasing panic as each day passes) saying, "Um, are you okay?!" The answer is yes, YES I am okay.

I'm actually back at work now. My first day was yesterday and I have to say my energy level is really up. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I am back among the living as opposed to sitting in my house staring at the dogs. Or, more accurately, them staring at me. So, work has been good. We had pie to celebrate my coming back. I know they appreciate me here, but I think that we all always seem to be looking for any reason to have a pie. Or three.

South Padre Island was fairly fun. We only had one or two days of really good weather, but we got to see sea turtles (at a rescue facility) and dolphins (in the wild) and went on the beach a few times. Ultimately it's still Texas, but hey, at least it was vacation :)

I think everyone (including me) is finally happy to let out the deep breath that was inhaled about four months ago when my initial diagnosis came in. I'm still recovering and the side-effects from radiation and chemo are lessening though they are definitely still happening. All in all though my life is somewhat returning to normal on a physical level.

On an emotional level I've realized that I should probably start looking for a therapist. It's not that anything too crazy is going on or anything really bad, but more that I've realized that I have a lot of stuff surrounding this round with cancer and a lot of distrust/anxiety about it returning or about not surviving more than five years.

It's an unfortunate thing that dying in the next 3-5 years is a real possibility (though certainly not likely) and something I actually do need to consider. As you can probably guess (and may be feeling yourself) this is not a popular subject with Heather, friends, and family. So, I think it may be best to pay somebody to listen to me sort it all out for myself. Plus, I'm starting to have those feelings of "I need to change some things about my life" and need to sort those out too.

So, that's where I am right now. Thank you again to all of you that have hung in here with me thus far.

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Home stretch

Mar. 28th, 2007 | 06:54 am

Okay, so sorry it's been a while since I've updated anything here. This past week there have been a lot of conversations and decisions and I haven't really been near the computer for more than five minutes at a time. So, what's been going on?

I will preface this by saying that I am okay. It sounds bad and believe me it has been real sucky, but it's the last week and I will get through this. Then we are going to Outback for steak, Heather is getting a celebratory cake, and I get to lie on a beach for a week and spend some real time with my fiance :)

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So, I have two more external radiation sessions today and tomorrow and then Friday I go under anesthesia one last time for a very very complete exam and removal of the sleeve they put in for the implants. Next Wednesday I give them blood one more time to make sure I'm good to fly and that my hemoglobins are good and then NOTHING for three months! I really can not wait to not have to go to the hospital every single week day. Though I do still have to make appointments with my endo to figure out my new T dose and a dermatologist because I'm a redhead prone to cancer and now have irradiated skin that has some moles. I really don't need skin cancer on top of this, right? But, other than that, back to my normal life.

So, that's it on the factual what's happening front. I realized recently though that I still have a lot more to write about the emotional aspects of this whole thing. I also realized that I think one of the reasons I seem to do so well in stressful situations such as this is that I only focus on the task at hand, what has to be done. It's only much much later that what has really happened sinks in and I start to really have feelings and contemplations about it. I'm sure this will be much like that. As for now I'm in some bizarre exhaustion/anxiety loop and I've been up since 4am. It is now 7:30am and I should probably try to get some more sleep before my day technically starts.

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funny

Mar. 20th, 2007 | 04:18 pm

Okay, this has nothing to do with cancer, but it made me laugh. And laughter is good right now.

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Round 6- one therapy down, two to go

Mar. 20th, 2007 | 03:10 pm

This will be quick mostly because I've pressed for time today, but felt the need to post because I don't like leaving things on a negative note.

After today I only have three more external radiations and yesterday was my last day of chemo! Hooray! So, this should be the last week I feel like my stomach is churning. Also, I finally saw my doc and basically told her that for the last two HDR treatments they were going to have to do them under general anethesia or I wasn't doing them. Period. So, she went around talking to the OR people and every one agreed to do them under general. It's costing us $500 more and it's a little more dangerous, but at this point I don't care. It's better than being tortured and it's better than not completing my treatment. Sometimes I guess it does pay off to be really demanding :)

In other news Heather and I found out that we had credits through Southwest that we had to use ASAP or lose them, so after my last HDR we're going on vacation. I figure I'm not allowed to go back to work until Apr. 16th anyway, so if I'm going to be sitting around unable to do anything I may as well do it on a beach on the ocean than in our bed. As long as Heather carries the luggage I'm cleared to go by my doc :) So, from Apr. 7th-13th we'll be on South Padre Island. It's not going to cost any more than a camping trip really and I feel that both of us deserve it. We need a damn break, especially considering that I won't be able to take any time off for quite a while. Now I can only hope that in 2 1/2 weeks my body drops the 10lbs of bloat its acquired from the steroids they've had me on. But, as Heather pointed out, it's after Spring Break and before any other events so likely it will be us on the beach with a bunch of elderly people. Good for me :) Though I admit I never thought I'd be vacationing in Texas.

Anyway, so that's it for now. Hope every one else is doing well!

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darkest before the dawn

Mar. 17th, 2007 | 07:40 pm

I'm prefacing this post by saying that it will not be a happy one. Not that anything else has gone horribly wrong or that I just found out that anything is worse, it's just that I am nearing the end of my tolerance and today it's weighing heavily on me.

Yesterday I had my third HDR. There is part of me that doesn't even want to talk about it, but I think it may do me (and maybe someone else in the future) some good and that's what I started this for in the first place, right? As per usual everything under this cut will be unpleasant and honestly though I know my family members read this in hopes of keeping up to date with how I'm doing, you might (especially my dad) want to just skip this one and wait for the next "okay, I've pulled myself through that crap" post that will likely come next week. That being said....

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I ate lunch, but stayed in bed pretty much all day and night into today. I am unbelievably sore, bleeding, have horrible horrible cramps, never ending diarrhea (caused by the radiation), and when I have to go, I feel like I'm pissing needles. Today I am very very angry about all of it.

I'm supposed to go through this two more times in the next two weeks. Today, I don't know if I can go through more than one much less two.

The other thing is that no one is talking to me about this. By that I mean, I make my appointments and I'm supposed to "check in" when it's all over. And by "all over" I mean all eight weeks of it. But, I think I need to talk to someone sooner. I need to find out how they determine when and how you are "cancer free" to the best of their ability. And if I yet fit that description.

It doesn't seem right to me that someone with a Stage 2b 4cm tumor should go through the same exact treatment as someone with a Stage 3b 8cm tumor. I'm not a doctor, but seeing as how my cancer was already 70% gone before even starting the treatments that are supposed to be the ones to get rid of the actual tumor, it seems like over-kill to go through five of these if the cancer is already gone by three or even four. And I understand that they want to make sure and all, but in life there are things that I may be willing to risk and quite frankly, they can NEVER "make sure."

I've asked why five treatments and not four or three or check the progress and then continue and the only answer I've gotten so far is that they do it that way because "it's standard for all brachytherapy." Due to the amount of severe physical and emotional pain this particular procedure is putting me through (not to mention permanently destroying my healthy tissues in that area) that answer is not good enough for me. So, hopefully this week I will be able to actually speak to my doctor and get some answers.

Other than that, I seriously hope I can pull some strength out of somewhere or they can come up with some new drugs to give me because I don't know how I'm going to deal with this otherwise.

I guess on the upside, Monday is my last chemo so at least maybe I won't feel like throwing up all day every day past this coming week. That's at least something to look forward to.

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Round 5- closing in

Mar. 13th, 2007 | 09:58 am

To begin let me just say thank you once again to every one who has been commenting and emailing and sending me all of your good vibes/prayers/energy/wishes/love/etc etc. I swear I will get back to you individually when I feel better and you'll be happy to know that it is all working! I finally talked to my other Oncologist yesterday. She said that my exam last Monday was "amazing" and that even before beginning the HDR last week that the tumor was already 70% gone, which apparently doesn't usually happen very often with just external radiation and chemo.

So, there is little to no doubt that by the end of March/beginning of April I will be cancer free! And though there is always a chance that it may come back, at this point the prognosis is about an 80% (statistics only, of course) chance that it won't, so if all goes well I will NEVER have to deal with this shit again!

The only downside is that the last two-three weeks are the hardest and this new therapy is kicking my ass pretty bad. Most days I'm in bed minimum of 16 hours I think after the second HDR on Friday I slept around 26 hours between Fri and Sat. Crazy. But, it's good to know that at least if I have to suffer through crappy days it's actually doing something and I know above anybody else that I AM SO LUCKY to have this be as minimal as it is and to be young and strong and have good enough kidneys to process the most effective chemo drug without long-term damage to anything else. So, that's the health update. Yesterday I did find out some very weird facts though.
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So, those are my random facts of the day. I have radiation in a little while and should probably shower before going in. I'm nice that way.

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Round 4 and more

Mar. 7th, 2007 | 04:45 pm

This is my hell week. The worst I've had and will have through this whole ordeal.

Anyway, I know I've had a lot of people calling, commenting, and emailing and I'm sorry you haven't heard from me (and may not). Monday was all day chemo again (only two more to go!), but Tuesday I had to go under general again for a minor surgery to place the "guide" in place for my internal radiation (which I also got yesterday) and I was pretty much out of it all day and night into today. Then more external radiation today. The rest of this could be gruesome, so if you don't want to read it, just don't click on the read more link and skip to the end. You've been warned.
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And this is hell week because for this particular week I have to go through this again on Friday. Two HDRs in one week plus all day chemo on Monday, external radiation Wed. and Thurs. (which are the days my chemo side-effect kick in, so I'm pretty much in bed all day) and then after a two day recovery over the weekend it's back to Chemo on Monday, but at least I won't have to go through another HDR until next Friday.

I know that this sounds bad and honestly up until yesterday I thought I might be blowing how much this sucks out of proportion, but not anymore. I know I only have a few more weeks and then one week of recovery before going back to work and I will get through it. But, I am tired now. And I am sore. And I'm wearing down very quickly. And I need to accept it and allow myself this time to process however my body/mind/spirit needs to process this. And part of that may just be not talking to anyone for a while and if that's the case please don't take it personally.

And for those of you who expressed concern over my last post regarding Heather and I, don't worry, we've talked and processed and all is well. We're strong that way :)

So, that's week four. I'm going to sleep now. I hope every one else is doing well and thank you for all of your support.

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