A week and a half ago I met with my oncologist and was told that I would be having my last chemo session that day. He could have spread it out over three weeks, but he didn’t. I was shocked and nervous, and a little bit relieved. I will miss seeing my doctor’s smiling face, and the hugs, but I am ready to get on with my life and get busy working on the projects I mentioned in my last post. Even though I’ve weathered chemotherapy like a champ, I’m tired of being tired. I’m tired of only being able to eat a few foods and of the nausea. I’m ready to get back to being able to eat more vegetables and other healthy things that my body just hasn’t found appetizing for a while. It’s surreal to say it – I am officially done with chemo. Whew!
My last session was a long one, but Sam was there with me and she presented me with a giraffe she handmade for me. It was a lovely gift and companion to cuddle with during those last hours of chemo. Also, everyone at the clinic was excited for me and made sure to visit with me while I was there. Janelle and Kody, two of the receptionists I enjoy visiting with each week, brought in roses for me, to celebrate my last session. Such sweet ladies! I will definitely miss seeing the smiling faces of everyone who works at the oncology clinic, but I will be going back for a check-up at the end of December. I also have to go in every four weeks to have my port flushed out. It sounds like after I have my three month check-up I will be able to get my port removed, yay!
I was surprised and thrilled to see my pal Katherine at the clinic, also having her last chemo session. She and I kind of forged an immediate bond and had been in chemo a few times at the same time. She told me about a camp for cancer folks like us that she went to in Montana. I’m going to look into it and it sounds really fun. Here are some photos of Katherine at the end of her treatment, before ringing the bell. Ringing the bell is a right of passage for all chemo patients when they finish. There are currently four bells to choose from. I chose to ring all four at the same time, of course.
The next step for me is radiation therapy. There are two types of radiation therapy for endometrial cancer. One is to radiate the entire area, but this can cause quite a few serious side effects, such as bowel issues. The second is an extremely focused, direct radiation treatment of the top 1/3 of the vagina via a wand-like device. This has minimal side effects, if any, and is meant to keep any rogue cancer cells from settling where the cervix used to be. This is what I’m having done over the next couple of weeks, with a completely new doctor I just met with today.
Now, my new doctor isn’t as fun as my oncologist/surgeon, but I will only be seeing him for 4 visits. Yep, that’s it. They space the appointments out, so you have two a week, with 2-3 days between treatments. It should be a walk in the park and it sounds like the most challenging thing will be to lie still for about 45 minutes while they insert a tube and then radiate the area at the top of my “tube sock”. Today I had a quick pelvic exam to make sure everything has healed completely from my hysterectomy, and it has. When the doctor said there was no need for a rectal exam, his awesome nurse told me I should go and buy a lottery ticket because it was my lucky day. Man, I love people with a sense of humor about these things. Good stuff.
My doctor went over some of the facts about my cancer today. My tumor was 12cm and was 1/4″ through the wall of my uterus. The cancer had spread to my ovaries, but not my cervix. Fortunately, the muscled wall of the uterus tends to contain the cancer, making it easier to remove. It also had spread to three lymph nodes in the pelvic area, which were also removed, but was not found to be anywhere near my major arteries. I also have a more aggressive cancer than the usual and was very fortunate we found it when we did, before it could spread any further. He also told me that if they hadn’t been able to surgically remove the cancer, I would be in a completely different situation right now. I knew most of these facts by reading the dreaded post-op report, but when you go over all of it again, it’s scary. Most importantly, he said the words I hadn’t heard before, that what I have tends to not re-occur and that the radiation treatment will cut the odds down to a very minimal percentage. I know nothing is guaranteed, but it was really good to hear those words.
With so much on my mind right now, I haven’t posted anything new. I apologize for that and actually have a backlog of things I want to write about. I will get on that now that I am settled in and know where things stand. Most importantly, I neglected to share that I now have a new kitten. A friend of a friend shared that someone was looking for people to adopt a litter of kittens. I decided to share it with my friends and was delighted that my friends Tom & Rachel were looking to add a tabby to their fur family. We went out to meet the owner and possibly pick one out and I was intrigued by a little grey and white baby that seemed to be more into hanging out by us than playing with the other kittens. Someone had already claimed her, so I didn’t get too attached. I later heard that the person backed out and it peaked my interest.
My friend Amanda, who runs Panda Paws Rescue, offered to take the rest of the kittens in and to spay the mama cat to prevent more kittens in the future. My wife and I drove out to pick up the kittens and I knew I wanted to give the little grey and white one a chance to win my heart. Sure enough, she did, and that was that. I named her Dandelion and she is the right mix of cuddly and playful. She has calico/orange tabby markings, which make her very unusual. She is already running my house and has made friends with my dog Gertrude. My other cat, Mr. Fuzzles, thinks she is the devil. They will eventually work it out. Just another example of the things you didn’t even know you needed coming into your life out of the blue. I am grateful, for all of it. ❤