Well, it’s taken me a while but I think I’m finally feeling a bit better. Got back on my anti depressants which helps a lot. I really didn’t think they were doing that much, but surprise! They are. At least they keep my mind on happy things which is where it needs to be. So I’ve spent the past couple weeks trying to get back to the good place. I don’t think I’m 100% there, but certainly much better. A couple things have gone a long way to improve my mood.
#1 – I registered last week for a young adult cancer summit put on by Stupid Cancer (you can find info for the summit here: http://omgsummit.org/2013/index2.html) So that means a trip to Vegas in a couple weeks which is always exciting. I’m excited to meet other people in my age range since that has been a huge issue throughout treatment. This summit focuses on young adults (18-40) with all different types of cancer. There will be sessions for many topics, including some specific to breast cancer. There will also be a fun adventure race through the Palms casino (where everything is happening). I’m really looking forward to the long weekend away and hopefully getting inspired.
#2 – Yesterday was my final chemo. #17 – The last one. Hopefully ever. It’s really hard to not be in a fantastic mood on that day, let me tell you. My mom took lots of pictures so I will post them soon. I took flowers in for the infusion center nurses and my doctor, it seemed much more fitting than a cake and will last longer. I got through the treatment with no hitches and go back in three weeks for blood work to check that I’ve recovered. My red blood cells were very low which explains all my naps and early bed times but it didn’t stop treatment. Also my platelets were low again but we went ahead which was good. I will find out where my potassium is today, I’ve been fighting that for weeks. After this I will be on a three month schedule for exams, blood work, etc. But I am not on any schedule for scans. I was surprised about this at first, but then I realized – I am not in the high risk group for scheduled scans. That is awesome. I’m really glad to be moved to a lower priority group. I’ll take low priority any day. Having my last chemo also means that I can get this stinking port out!!!! I see my general surgeon on Thursday to discuss the schedule. This stitch has been poking me for 9 months now, I am so ready to have it gone. I will have to wait for my counts to come up so it will probably be a few weeks, around the time radiation starts.
I go in on Monday to see the radiation oncologist to get started on the next phase. We plan to start in three weeks which would be the 29th of this month. I get back from Vegas on the 28th so it will work perfectly. I’m a bit nervous about radiation just because I don’t really know what to expect, but by all accounts it will be a lot better than chemo. It sounds like pretty extreme exhaustion and skin burning.
This week has been a huge milestone for me. I feel like I’m finally through the worst of it (except of course for the vomiting coming this week, but at least I know it will be the last week of that). The surgery was so much harder than I anticipated and of course chemo sucks. I knew this year would be hard, but it is really hard to express just how much cancer sucks. The feelings I have had are unlike anything else in my life. The trials have been harder than anything I’ve ever experienced. But I finally feel like the sun is shining a little brighter. I have several more phases in front of me, I am by no means finished. After radiation I have at least two more surgeries which will most likely take me into next year.
It has been a lot harder since surgery. I think a lot of it has been that most people think that once you have surgery you are all better. At least in my case this was sooo not true. I am not complaining by any means as I have some very supportive friends and am so thankful for everyone. I just feel like so little is known about cancer in general that it’s important for people to know that surgery does not mean the end. Most people have all of their treatment after surgery. I was an exception having it beforehand, and definitely having it both before and after. It is very rare to not respond to chemo. My surgery was made so much harder because of all the chemo I had first and how much my body was weakened. Also, I think it’s important for people to know that chemo affects your body the same whether it’s working on the tumors or not. I’ve had several people tell me that since my hair fell out it must be working. This is simply not true. Side affects happen no matter what happens to the tumor. I learned this first hand unfortunately. Also, I think a lot about cancer is unknown because every type and every case are so different. I was shocked by this. There are so many subtypes in every kind that it’s pretty much impossible to know what a person will be going through without studying their pathology. Saying that, I think that the support a person needs is pretty much the same. We need our friends. We are still the same person that we’ve always been. You don’t have to know what to say, but saying something is important – even simply saying “I don’t know what to say, but I’m here” comes across pretty perfect. It starts a dialog and opens the door for that person to tell you what they need, which a lot of times is just to talk. I am thankful for all my friends who have taken that step. I have felt surrounded by love along this journey and hope I will continue to for the rest of it. That is all any of us can ask for.