Well guys, I’m living. I’m living a lot. It’s wonderful. I’m not cancer free but I feel like my old self. The last three months have been exceptional. I’m not nauseous. I have energy. I’m doing workouts four to six times a week. I had my first CrossFit competition and my team won first place! I hit a post surgery PR on my clean and jerk, only five pounds less than my lifetime PR. I went to Cabo with my best friend and her family. I also went to Miami with my mom and Aunt for a long weekend. I have more personal training/physical therapy clients in the gym. But let me just say it again, I’m living! I feel better, like my old self better! I had a revelation a couple weeks ago after this really exhausting week, with some thirteen hour days between the gym and the hospital and training for my competition. I was exhausted, but not chemo or surgery exhausted, working hard, sleep deprived exhausted. It was like the old days before I got sick! It felt amazing to be tired from a full paced life. I was exhausted from living!
The last three months I’ve been going in every two weeks and having chemo. I was told it wouldn’t have side effects of nausea and was stoked. But after the pre-chemo drugs, IV Benadryl, Decahedron and Zophran (all to prevent nausea and a reaction from the chemo) I was the same lethargic nauseous heap of a human I normally am during chemo. So the following session I said “no pre-drugs please!” and felt fine. It makes me really tired but each week I’ve been trying to do more and more sooner and sooner after chemo and have been tolerating it fine! No more days laid up on a couch wishing I had a hammer to knock my brains out. No more drugging myself to sleep at night. No more anti anxiety meds. This is living! So yes, I go every other week to the infusion center and sit there for two hours getting some drugs pumped into my port. It’s ok! I’m feeling the best I’ve felt in two and a half years! That’s a pretty big deal.
As I sat in chemo New Year’s Eve my oncologist text me the results of some new test results. It’s called circulating DNA and it’s pretty new. From what I understand, the whole point of it is to detect a tumor before it shows up on imaging. There is of course the potential for the nodules in my lungs to grow and spread while I’m on this maintenance lighter chemo. With my tumor markers at normal levels it’s hard to say nothing is spreading and I’m not growing tumors in other parts of my body. Remember, the nodules I now have in my lungs grew when I tried maintenance chemo last time and the tumor markers weren’t helpful. The circulating DNA says whether there’s cancer in my blood waiting to land somewhere and grow before my tumor markers would go up and raise the alarm. The text from my oncologist said the result of the circulating DNA test read zero! Meaning my cancer isn’t spreading through my blood any time soon! I don’t need to worry about my next CT scan showing something in my heart or brain. I got to start off 2020 with the confidence that I’m only battling the nodules still in my lungs!
My last two CT scans have shown that my abdomen and pelvis are still clear and the maintenance chemo is doing its job and keeping the nodules stable. I can’t be sure about the several one to two millimeter nodules, because they can easily slip between the images but at the point the four millimeter nodule in my left lung is still four millimeters. There are some downsides to this chemo, it causes my skin to be extra dry, it causes the cuticles of my fingers and toes to swell and split painfully and the worst part, I have a horrible rash all over my face, and chest and back. But in my opinion, that’s a small price to pay for getting my life back.
There is a lot of good right now and call me crazy, but I’m fixating on that and enjoying a season of good.