Good Day, Sunshine

I got the results of my biopsy today. For those of you just tuning in, I have been having some pain in my groin and it was determined that the lymph nodes there were swollen and enlarged. It appeared that the cancer had spread to them; however to make sure, I got a biopsy of the nodes.

They’re NOT cancerous!

Can you believe it?! Everyone was happily surprised (cue the above song in my head). It had really seemed as though the biopsy was a formality and that they must be cancerous, but they’re not!

So what does this mean?

A few things:

  1. The cancer has not spread. I already have the mass in my pancreas and significant lymph node involvement. These have responded dramatically to the chemotherapy. If the lymph nodes in my groin had turned out to be cancer, then the chemo drug I’m on wouldn’t have worked as well as we thought, and we would have to worry about continuous spreading of the disease.
  2. I don’t have to alter or add anything to my chemotherapy regimen. Since they’re not cancer, it means that my chemo drug IS working as well as we want it to, and I don’t need to change a thing about my routine. Adding another chemotherapy drug could have meant additional side effects like losing my hair, lower blood counts, more pain, etc.
  3. I get to stay in my chemo routine. I mentioned this above, but to explain in more detail, we chemo patients learn our routines once we get into a chemo regimen. We learn what days are good, what days are bad, and what side effects to expect. If a new chemo drug is added, it’s like starting over again. We have new good and bad days to adjust to and new side effects to learn and to navigate. Being able to stay in my current routine is much easier on me.
  4. Going forward, I will continue the Gemzar (chemo drug) schedule — three weeks on, one week off. Scans (PET and CT) will be every three months. This will continue until a) the Gemzar stops working, or b) the Gemzar becomes toxic to my body. The end date of this chemo cannot be predicted; we just watch and see what happens.
  5. As far as what caused the lymph nodes to be painful and swollen, we don’t know. And quite honestly, we don’t care because it’s NOT CANCER.

But God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear, but along with the temptation he will also make the way out so that you may be able to endure it.

1 Corinthians 10:13 (NWT)

I am so grateful that God knows our limitations and provides us with what we need to endure different trials. I’m so thankful for this news. It feels like someone just added more time to my timer — took one big spin backwards on the dial.

This is the most optimistic I’ve felt since my re-diagnosis. It’s the first time I’ve breathed a sigh of relief, that I’ve thought of my expiration date as possibly being years away instead of months away. Researching and planning our big trip in June fills me with excitement instead of trepidation.

Today is a Good Day, Sunshine.

xoxo

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Visit at the Right Time

A true friend shows love at all times,

And is a brother (or sister) who is born for times of distress.

                                                                   –Proverbs 17:17 (NWT)

My best friend and her husband came down for a visit this weekend. She’s my friend that I’ve mentioned before — she sends me a card every week. She and I FaceTime regularly. We are kindred spirits, and I feel very blessed to have her in my life. She remembers things about me that I even forget, and she listens more closely than I realize, as is evident from different gifts that she will send me throughout the year. I can tell her absolutely anything, with complete confidence that she will not judge me.

The weekend was so refreshing and just what I needed. We made virtually zero plans, aside from what to eat and where to eat it. And we just talked. And talked. And talked. It’s amazing that we even have anything to talk about, since we talk via text and FaceTime often, but we always do. Conversations drifted back and forth between topics, and we rarely actually finished one, as we got distracted by the next. But we would have it no other way. It’s the way our friendship works.

Recently I have felt lonely. Being under the influence of strong opioid drugs, I do not drive so my ability to run errands, or even to engage in some casual retail therapy, are very limited. Some days — even if I have the opportunity to be chauffeured around — I don’t feel up to it. It’s a very solitary existence, and I’ve given in to self-pity.

The reality is, though, that I am blessed with real and true friends. Friends that are family, both literally and figuratively. Friends that use their mileage points for me. Friends that carve time out of every week to send me a card or to FaceTime with me. Friends that make me laugh until I cry and friends who text me just to check in. Friends who are genuinely happy for me when I get to spend time with another friend. Friends who end their texts and phone calls with “love you.”

As my kindred spirit left today, my mother-in-law and sister-in-law arrived. They, along with my local sister-in-law and family, greeted me with long, protective hugs and faces that showed their happiness at seeing me.

My friends have made the story of my life.
–Helen Keller

This Tuesday I will find out the results of my scans. I will either receive good or bad news about how the Chemotherapy is or isn’t working. My oncology team will either tell me to continue the Chemo regimen I’m in or we will explore other options. I’ve been nervous about this appointment since last weekend. As to be expected, I am still anxious about the appointment, but I sit here writing without the dread that’s been hanging over my head.

I’ve been strengthened and refreshed by my visit with my sweet friend. It’s simply impossible to enjoy the friendship I’ve enjoyed this weekend and continue to have dread in my heart.

And I can feel the support of my family as I head into the week of unknowns ahead of me.

Thank you, Heavenly Father, for reminding me that I’m not alone at all.

xoxo

Phase I Down!

I am happy to inform you that I completed Phase I of my Chemo today! Huzzah! Woohoo! Yay!

I am equally as happy to inform you that tomorrow is my last Neulasta shot! (Insert your desired celebratory exclamation here). Neulasta, I know that you did good things for me, but boy did you make me feel lousy!

In two weeks I will begin my second phase. Weekly infusions of Taxol (or maybe Taxotere) and Carboplatin. Because of my age and relative healthiness (i.e. no Diabetes or other potentially life-threatening conditions), my Oncologist is using a relatively new therapy with me. The plan is to continue at the same dosage for the entire 12 weeks, but since this is a new treatment plan, and I’m one of the first to be treated this way, we will go on a week to week basis to see how I handle it. It may need to be adjusted some, which may extend the phase beyond 12 weeks.

Oh wait, I forgot to tell you the third piece of celebratory news! My lumps are no longer detectable — neither my surgeon nor my Oncology Nurse Practitioner could feel them! My chemo brain is not remembering anymore celebratory expressions, so please fill in some suggestions in the comments.

A little update on how I am feeling: my CBC shows some anemia, which makes sense because I am feeling more fatigue than I have been in previous weeks. This is to be expected, as Chemo is cumulative and is known to make patients anemic. They may add some Iron infusions to my weekly regimen, but we will see.

I am also experiencing pain, which could be my arthritis or from my Chemo or a combination of both. Not much I can do about that except some Tylenol or Advil. And I’ve been told Epsom Salt baths.

Other than that, I am in pretty good spirits. Aunt H & Uncle D visited for a long weekend, and we finally saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It exceeded my expectations. Even my mom thought it was fabulous!! Then Saturday my sister (I only have one, so no abbreviation needed) and brother-in-law flew in. They are here until Saturday. Mom, Sis, and I saw Joy on Sunday. I loved it! The boys saw — you guessed it — Star Wars (again).

Spending time with family is wonderful. For the first time in several years, all of us were together for a family meal. With my dad retiring at the end of the year, we informally “roasted” him. Then my aunt H recounted a story about how awesome my dad is, and we all ended up crying happy tears. It was awesome 🙂

Sis bought me some new makeup products that I will be reviewing in my beauty blog, and aunt H bought me some puzzles and games to play when I’m not feeling like staring at technology (much needed). She also gave me the coolest body pillow I’ve ever seen. Which I will post a picture of tomorrow if I can.

xoxo