Confession: I wrote out a whole blog post on my day and by the time I finished it, it was like 32 paragraphs. I mean, some of you have said I’m funny or I write well but lets be honest, I don’t write that well enough for you to stick with me through 32 paragraphs. No one has time for that.
So, take two. Highlights Beef, highlights.
I had two doctors appointments today & we learned a lot. Heard a lot of reassuring things. And as Dr. Potkul said, “we are over the hump!”
Our first appointment was with Angela from Dr. Small’s team, my radiation oncologist. I’m just shy of a month removed from radiation. I have some scarring, but that’s normal. She did a physical exam of my lymph nodes, all normal! Highlights beyond that:
- I will have a brain scan done two weeks after chemo ends. Brain scans will be part of my protocol because in small cell lung cancer, if a spread happens, the brain is a likely place. While Dr. Small doesn’t think sccc acts like small cell lung cancer, there’s so little data on sccc in the big scheme of things, it’s better to be proactive in monitoring.
- I ‘accidentally’ read an article on Facebook two days ago (read: I was testing how brave I’ve become, the internet is a BEAST with a cancer diagnosis) about a woman in London with cervical cancer that “couldn’t be cured” & she had 1-2 years to live. I remember Dr. Potkul telling me (and I have it written in my iPhone notes from the day we had the call) that because of my stage, I had a 60%-70% shot of being cured. I asked Angela today, “Cured means cured means could never come back? That’s possible for me?” And she reminded me (bless her patience) that there are three 3 treatment buckets with cancer: to cure, to contain & to “lessen the symptoms (so sad)” and that yes, I was in the “cure” bucket. Nothing is guaranteed and only God knows my path but reassurance, yes!
- My body, for all intents and purposes, is cancer free right now. We conceptually knew this after surgery when the pathology confirmed that & from the scans before surgery which showed no signs of cancer anywhere else in my body and yet something felt different about hearing that today. The reason we do chemo & radiation is to kill any microcells left behind (which scans wouldn’t pick up). All it takes is one microcell for the cancer to come back so radiation targets where the cancer was and fries the life out of those suckers & chemo is my “get in the bloodstream and blast the body” insurance plan in case any cells tried to travel.
- I asked when do you really know that you’re cured – and of course, I again hear how little information is out there on sccc but she said if a recurrence happens, its usually within the first 1-2 years. I will have doctors appointments every 3 months for the first 2 years. Two years, we have to crush two years.
- My first scan post treatment typically happens a month after treatment ends but will likely line up with the brain scan. NED baby, NED (no evidence of disease). So much champs that night and everyone will be welcome to join in with me!!
Funny story for you? I got made fun of (more or less) about my high blood pressure & fast heart rate today. What was the cause you ask? The walk from the cancer center to the radiation basement. I’m a little out of shape, ok!? Angela reassured me I had good reason but when I asked about running & when that could happen again, she laughed and said I had a long way to go, clearly.
The appointment with Dr. Potkul was quick – my normal pre-chemo check in. He walked in with an orange tie on and of course I quickly professed my love for it. Turns out his favorite color is orange! #instantbesties Apparently he wears orange crocs in the hospital. A man after my own heart. I did say to him, “we were meant to be together!” to which he awkwardly laughed at me. I think sometimes I take these guys off guard with how much I joke during appointments.
My hemoglobin count is low so I’m anemic, which makes me feel much better about how exhausted I am. It’s been a rough go with energy and unfortunately exhaustion is cumulative with chemo. I said to Kevin, I can’t imagine being any more tired than I already am so these next four weeks will be interesting with two more rounds to go.
BUT. Dr. Potkul was right, we are over the hump. By this time next week, I’ll be deep in slumber but I’ll be ONE round away from being done with active treatment.
At Yelp, we are big on white boards. Yesterday I was in a meeting and was showing off my makeshift whiteboard, aka a piece of paper, while I work from home. This morning I woke up to a dry erase board & markers (Amazon, you’re freakishly fast) on my front porch from my bestie Kaela. Amazing, right? Today I doodled this, excuse the language:
30 days left of active treatment. We are SO CLOSE. Choosing, for today at least, to focus on that and not on the “yet so far” feeling.
Have a great weekend. Chemo round 4 starts Tuesday at 8am sharp. Best Valentine’s Day ever!!
P.S. Ugh, this ended up being long again. I tried.