Sunday, March 25, 2012

let's get...radiated!!!

It's a turn-around jump shot - It's everybody jump start
It's every generation throws a hero up the pop charts
Medicine is magical and magical is art
The Boy in the Bubble
And the baby with the baboon heart
-Paul Simon (from 'Graceland')

These really are the days of miracle and wonder. The fact that I can lie down in a big machine, have a laser enter my body, then get up and be on my merry way 10 minutes later is pretty dang unbelievable. Which brings me to the topic at hand: Radiation therapy.

So, as it turns out, radiation is a go! I'll be starting most likely the week after Easter and will have either 12 or 15 treatments total. The treatments last only 10-15 minutes and I will be having one treatment a day, five days a week. It will be done in Hamilton, and I will be staying with my sister during the week to cut down on all the travel time. It's pretty much exactly as I thought it would be so I can't say I'm all that disappointed. I was prepared for it. My radiologist showed me my "before and after' scans and it was pretty shocking how large my tumor actually was!! 8 cm! It is now almost undetectable other than some very small remnants which are basically the scar tissue from the shrunken tumour. Anyway, it is good to know that I am that much closer to the end of all treatment. If all goes according to plan I should be finished end of April or beginning of May.

Ottawa trip was great other than getting freaking PNEUMONIA!!! No Joke! The day after I got there I went in to emerg with some pretty classic symptoms, and knowing how low my immunity was I didn't want to take chances. As it turns out I was diagnosed with Pneumonia and given a crap load of antibiotics. So for the first week of my trip I was pretty much out of commission. Which of course I am used to by now! I definitely had a few days of wondering if I will ever feel well again. The good news is that it didn't take long for the antibiotics to take effect, and I did get some time with good friends and hanging with the parents which was great. Right now I'm actually feeling totally great...and not taking one minute of it for granted.

I also took a day of silence at a retreat house on the Madawaska about an hour outside of Ottawa and it was a highlight of my trip. While I was there I realized how much my mind has been racing in terms of thinking I should be farther along in recovery than I am. I clued in that I am not even done treatment yet and need to lay off putting pressure on myself! The general message was: SLOW DOWN. I kept thinking about a quote I heard a few years ago: "You can't push the river".

I guess that about does it for the update.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Headin' down the tracks...

"All our lives we wait on trains." -R. Sexsmith

So as I write this I am periodically looking out my train window at dormant farm fields that speed past and look almost golden in the mid afternoon sun. I'm Ottawa bound, my friends. I'll be spending almost 2 whole weeks in the nations capital and looking forward to it. It's super strange to think that normally I would be heading into the hospital today for chemo...but man, oh man, am I ever glad that's not the case today! By the way, David Cronenburg is sitting five seats in front of me with his wife! I wasn't a huge fan of "A Dangerous Method". I won't tell him that.

Unfortunately I don't have many hard facts to update on other than to say that I had my CT scan last week which will tell me whether or not I need radiation. Unfortunately my radiologist is away for March break so, of course, I'll have to wait for those results. Am I surprised? No. The upside to this story is that my CT scan appointment was officially the shortest, quickest and easiest appointment I've ever had at the hospital thus far! I almost fell over when after a very short wait the nurse brought me in to the scan room, told me to lie down - boots on and all! I didn't even have to take of my scarf...and it took a total of 10 minutes!! I walked out of there feeling like the luckiest patient on the planet. Small mercies.Anyway, knowing the way things roll around in this crazy hospital appointment world, I imagine it will be the end of March before I find out anything concrete. "C'est la Vie."

So it's definitely been a strange 2 weeks for me. I think the fact that treatment is near finished has begun to really hit, and all of the energy I have put over what feels like many months into trying to get to the next treatment has drained right out of me and left me feeling slightly sad, overwhelmed, exhausted and rudderless. I'm beginning to see that these are some of the realities of "post-cancer" life - at least temporarily. I had heard a few people talk of this earlier on in my treatment and felt secretly happy and smug that I had so much "get up and go" that point anyway. Suddenly I totally understand what they were saying. Anyway, it's as if a giant to-do list has stretched out before my eyes and it doesn't have an just keeps going and going. And I barely have enough energy to swing my legs around the side of the bed in the morning. Uh-oh.

Added to this is the sad fact that I now have selected items of what I like to call the "Chubby clothes". I hate this fact, and at the same time find it helarious. Losing the extra 15 pounds that I've gained is number 1 on my gigantic "to do" list. This could prove to be extremely difficult considering that yesterday I walked up a flight of stairs and thought that was it for me. Seriously. God help me.

Now I don't want anyone to think that it's all doom and gloom over here. There have been some brighter moments, and times of relief. This is all part of the big bargain, I guess. As Robert Frost so wisely put it: "The best way out is always through".

I also wanted to say a huge thank you again to so many of you who have been checking in and sending messages. I have truly appreciated it, although you may not know it by my apparent lack of communication. I have basically become a bit of a hermit over the past 2 months....please forgive me. Hopefully I'll get it together soon!

Much Love,