Thursday, June 30, 2011

Never a dull moment

Just when I think that I have a few days of respite, the roller coaster in my life shows me that I have no control -- or perhaps God is telling me that control with this disease is not going to work.  These little 'blips' on the radar tend to play havoc with my mind and body and while I hate it, it keeps things in perspective.

Had my requisite mammogram last week, like the diligent woman I am.  They called me back the next day to schedule an appointment because they saw a 'thickening' that wasn't there the year before. I just thought, okay, here we go again.  Buckle the seat belt.  Say another prayer.  Take a deep breath.  Say to self, "self, you cannot change the outcome of this - it is what it is - do not waste days withdrawing and trying to gather strength for something that may not even happen.  Enjoy your days anyway."  Of course I didn't listen to myself. 

Five days later I had the mammo redo (which is much worse than the regular mammo unfortunately because they have to focus on specific areas.  I had an odd calcium deposit right below this thickening which almost looked like an upside V pointing quite nicely to the mass they wanted to view.  That helped the radiologist focus in the right spot.  I was then told to sit outside with my little bag of clothing (in case there was an issue, I would have to go for an ultrasound).  Another woman was out there with her little bag and in a hospital gown like me.  Then another came out, same bag, same hospital gown but a robe.  Modesty prevails in any situation.  The technician came out to say the radiologist/surgeon was doing a biopsy but would read the mammos shortly, maybe 15 minutes.  A few minutes later she came out and called me in.  I kept thinking, hmmm, the person before me wasn't called and the person after me wasn't called.  My heart started pounding and my mind rationalized all types of things and I wondered if the cancer decided to attack me in another area.  I hate this disease.  I hate being so paranoid.  I hate the fact I worry about every pain and ache now when I didn't give it a second thought before.  I hate that I lose days of my life in worry.  I hate that I have no control. 

She takes me in the room and shuts the door for privacy she says and I sit down as my legs are wobbly.  She tells me everything is fine, not to worry.  It was simply thickening and no suspicious mass.  Come back in a year.  Relief washed over me.  She started to apologize for making me go through it all and I said no, I am glad that they are diligent and do this.  Best to catch this early and be sure.  As I started to leave I realized the other two women in the lobby may have different news and I walked out quickly. Not smiling, not making contact.  Whether that was the right thing to do or not, I do not know, but I felt if I was happy and smiled I did not know what news they would get and did not want the moment that is quite frightening to be the bouncing off board for my good news.  I said a prayer for the two of them and met Rich outside.  I was able to breathe again.  Able to plan again.  At least until my visit to the colo-rectal surgeon on July 15th.  Another respite.  Thank you God. 

Be well, Marilyne

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Update on 9 month scan

Had my blood work and scan done on June 7th.  The oncologist's nurse called and told me the blood work looked good except my white count was down from last month and they want to watch that.  It was possible the chemo did some damage to the bone marrow.  Since I just had gall bladder surgery I am wondering if it is because my body is trying to heal.  At least I hope that is the case.  Even so, I found myself hearing those words reverberating in my mind again...'what if....what if...."  

Living as a cancer survivor is still as difficult a journey as it was as a cancer patient.  There are various levels of survivor I believe.  The fighter who survives to live and beat the cancer, the survivor who finds that the scans are clear and survives to keep the faith from scan to scan and the survivor who is in limbo, worrying about aches and pains and odd blood work and scans where it would not have phased her before. 

There is always that fear the cancer will return either in its original place or somewhere else. And that is how I live.  When the scans are clear I relax a bit until the next round of scans.  I do not know when that will end if it ever will as these doctor visits and scans and blood work are part of my new normal. 

June 13 I saw my oncologist and the scan was clear...except for an air bubble or something that they saw on the CT in my common bile duct where the gall bladder was removed.  Sometimes this occurs after gall bladder surgery.  My oncologist wants me to have an ultrasound in this area in 3 months, not another CT as she does not want to subject me to more radiation.  Another CT will happen in 6 months.  The CT will focus more clearly and precisely on this 'air bubble.'   The low white count she believed is due to healing from the gall bladder surgery.  However, if I have pain in the GB area, I am to contact her immediately.  So...what does all this mean?  I have no idea.  She did not seem to be concerned and I base my emotions on how she reacts to things as she would not hesitate to send me for an ultrasound immediately if she was worried so...I am not worried.  I trust my team and their judgement.  I trust God to give me what He feels I can handle. a human, I still feel vulnerable and afraid sometimes. 

So, another reprieve.  Next scan will be in September.  I finished logging in all my appointments for the next few months on the calendar and will utilize the ones without mammograms or scans or doctor visits with fun stuff and creating.  Thanks for being there, for your prayers and thoughts.  It means so much to me.  Be well, Love, Marilyne