So first things first. I saw my oncologist today. She is very happy with my progress, exercise, etc. It turns out though that the blood work they do every three months is not looking for tumor markers. She said that research has shown that that test can have false negatives/positives and it is not worth putting the patient through that. Also, she does not want to do further scans. So, we are left with my CBC, symptoms and physical exam to watch for cancer. I’m still trying to wrap my head around this, but all of those things looked good so she has officially marked my chart as NED. In the cancer world, that is an acronym for No Evidence of Disease. That’s a big deal. While I would feel better having actual proof that the cancer is gone, it appears that I am going to have to deal with and process my doctors being sure that it’s gone and believe them. She’s not the only doctor who is telling me I am cancer free so that’s a good thing. I just have to learn to believe that. I wish I could say that I am a person who believes that the cancer is gone and won’t come back but that would be a lie. I feel like I am constantly waiting for it to come back and I was really looking forward to some kind of proof that it is gone. I guess that isn’t going to happen. So, while it wasn’t the awesome spectacle I was expecting, it is a great day.
I celebrated by taking my bike all the way up the mountain by Highway 93. I haven’t ridden that far since before I was diagnosed. It used to be a normal thing for me. Here I am at the top.
It was great to feel like I’m coming back, even if I have a long way to go. The floods have washed out parts of the trail and all the water has brought in thousands of mosquitoes, which we normally never experience. When I stopped to take that photo I got about 20 bites. You’ll also notice that the sun is already behind the mountains in that picture which I didn’t think about until I had to ride home in the very dark woods with no light. That was an experience.
This weekend has been extra special because I hung out with three of my friends from the FD trip a few weeks ago. We went up to Red Cliff for Man of the Cliff which benefits FD. We had so much fun and it made me feel a little like being in Jackson again. It was amazing to hear the stories of what we experienced from other perspectives, thinking about how the whole trip changed all of us. One of my favorite things was hearing from one of my friends who was kayaking close to me when I went under in the river. Since she saw the whole thing it was interesting to hear it from her perspective. She was totally surprised by how scared I was when I made it out of the boat and surfaced – she said her thought was “wow, Mallow just totally got her ass handed to her. That doesn’t happen to her!” I assured her I get my ass handed to me at least as often as everyone else does. We laughed all day. I am constantly impressed and so proud of my friends for everything they’ve been through. We are all coming back.