Monday, February 13, 2012

Life After Treatment

I know I should write more often but life is busy and I find it hard to put my thoughts down. What I write comes across more serious than who I am.

Last week was a great week. It's been four months and on Monday, February 6th I had a CT scan of my lungs and an MRI on my leg; the results all came back showing no sign of sarcoma. I have to go in every four months for the next year and half and have scans to make sure the sarcoma doesn't return. I'm feeling good and I would say my health is back to about 85%. My doctor says that it takes about a year to recover completely and feel like you did before you started the process. I truly feel like I have been cured and that the sarcoma has left my body to never return. I'm back to running 3 miles 2 to 3 times a week. That feels like another hurdle completed. You hear about people losing weight while going through chemo treatment but I gained about 10 pounds so I'm working to lose the extra pounds. All my hair has grown back; it came in thicker and more all over. It also came back wavy. I like it but I'm still getting used to it.

During my treatment I took part in a study for a trial drug. There were 15 people in the study and I was one of the last to join. The study was to determine proper dosage of a trial chemo drug. I was put on the highest dosage and about a week into the study I broke out with a rash all over my body. They lowered my dosage and that dosage is what they are moving forward for a larger study. The great news in all of this is that everyone in the study (for some it has been more that 2 years) none of them have had a recurrence. As I have said before, 2 years is a big milestone. I have a 67% chance that the sarcoma will not return but in 2 years that percentage will improve even more. The larger study will be to see if the trial drug cures or increases the life of those with sarcoma.

This has been a huge life changing event that I'm still figuring out. Close people have passed away in my life but not until I was in this situation have I been able to appreciate life, my family and friends the way I do now. I would hear about others that would get sick or were in an accident and I would think about it for a minute and forget about it or think it can't happen to me or my family. I believe it is a protective mechanism so I don't live my life in fear of what could happen. Since I went through this process, I have an intense appreciation for life but as time goes on and life gets back to normal that feeling lessens and this frustrates me because I don't want to lose the appreciation for life. I believe that this is one of my life lessons.

I also feel like I say this too much but I don't know any other way to express my gratitude. I want to thank you all for the support - especially my incredible partner in this life Julie. She took care of me, the kids and the house. She is truly an incredible person. It was not always easy but without her love and support it would have been a lot more challenging. Below is my new mantra. I believe this was quoted on Oprah's show from a Drew Faust book.

"Every death is a wakeup call to live more fully, more completely and more presently." Let us not miss an opportunity to live our lives, and in the process, I hope we learn to fear death less.

Monday, October 24, 2011

We are done. My last chemo treatment was six weeks ago. I took my last trial drug pill about 3 weeks ago. Last week I had my lungs scanned; my lungs are clear. I will go in every 4 months for the next year to make sure my lungs stay clear.

I am cured, cancer-free. The word "remission" means temporary; it's a dirty word. Each day I feel better and my family and I gain distance from our unwelcomed guest who is no longer with us. Good riddance.

It took the help and support of our families, our coworkers, our neighbors and friends to come through this. Every prayer, email, notecard, text message, phone call, bouquet, book, meal, and babysitting break gave us refuge and strength to heal. Thank you so much for your support.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Just Enough

I recognize my life still. Despite Mike's treatments, I have tried to maintain normalcy for our family between work, mealtimes, bedtimes, playdates, summer activities, chores. All the daily and weekly occurrences we all live with.  However, the low level of stress over time wears our family down and I lack my typical level of patience. My family sees it and I feel badly for not having more patience.

So I am giving up on the idea of perfect patience. I forgive myself for being snappy, short-tempered and hurried. I accept imperfect patience, an imperfect summer, and an imperfect world.  I look for solace in the moments where there is just enough patience and humor to clean sticky lemonade spills (again), laugh at my irrational behavior, and tuck the kids in at the end of a difficult day.
Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself.  Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections, but instantly set about remedying them - every day begin the task anew. 

~ St. Francis de Sales

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Week 18

I had my fourth round of chemo and (on a sarcastic note) what fun that was. Just as I was getting my taste and hair back after surgery, it is quickly taken away again. On a brighter note, I only have two more rounds of chemo treatment and should be done around mid September. Since my last blog entry I found myself a little down and trying to process the diagnosis, treatments, and life after all this is done. I started focusing on what I do not control which inevitably puts me in the wrong mindset. After talking with a friend and thinking about what I do control, I think it's okay to be pissed off that I'm going through this up and down journey.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

My Meeting with the Oncologist

I met with my oncologist last Tuesday for a post-surgery follow-up and to learn results of the tumor analysis. The surgeon removed the entire sarcoma and the margins are good; this is great news. I had about 30% necrosis (or death) of the tumor; the oncologist and surgeon hoped to see about 80% necrosis. I will continue with the treatment plan; I have three more rounds of chemo.

There is a 67% chance the sarcoma will not come back or metastasize. After September, I will have CT scans every 4 months to make sure my lungs stay clear. The highest likelihood of recurrence is in the first 2 to 3 years.

To be honest, I wish the news was better and the tumor had responded more to chemo; though I am still in a good place. All 19 stamples are now removed from my leg and I am on the mend. The journey continues.