Although I was obviously thrilled to hear the news that my lymph nodes had returned to a more "normal" size and the PET scan couldn't detect any metabolic activity in them anymore, I still don't feel as happy as I thought I would at this point. I think part of it is due to the fact that I still have to continue with chemo treatments (3 more at this point) to "mop up" any remaining cancer cells that may have gone undetected by the PET scan. My doctor determined that I had some patches on my lungs possibly due to the Bleomycin drug (part of my ABVD treatment), so he took it out of my treatment. Bleomycin actually also causes these strange lines that look like cat scratches all over your skin, so now that I'm not on it anymore, I'm looking forward to those going away--vain I know! I had to take a pulmonary function test to make sure that my lungs are ok...basically you do a serious of breathing exercises into a tube and it assesses your lung function...it makes you feel like you've been working out for hours! But everything turned out fine and my lungs were ok, so that was a relief.
Even though I know the chemo is working, it still makes me sad to still have to go back to the hospital and continue to be poked and prodded. I told the nurse the other day that I was tired of seeing her face! That tells you how over this I am. This whole experience can feel so lonely since people can empathize but no one knows exactly how I feel inside everyday and every night. Thankfully I haven't had extreme side effects, but I think that also makes people forget that I am going through this horrible ordeal and its on my mind 24/7. I've found that when I told people the good news, they would say things like, "wow that was quick" or "great, you're all cured now!" and oh how I wish that was true. I feel like I have tread lightly and not get too excited yet because my journey really is far from over...I have to finish up chemo and then continue to have PET scans every month and then every few months to keep track of my health. I still have a while before the big "R"--Remission term is used. It's kinda depressing to think about, for the rest of my life I'll have to check in and make sure that nothing fishy is going on in my lymphatic system. My medical history and life as I know it has changed.
But I'm not all doom and gloom, because I did celebrate my good news with my friends on Friday and we had a great time with dinner and drinks, toasting to my future. See pics above. I've read that life after chemo can be even harder than during the process--emotionally that is--because you're struggling to find your new normal (that is a life of hospitals and needles) and everyone around you expects you to slip back to your old normal. It's definitely interesting to say the least!