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Sunday, March 7, 2010

M.D in training

If I didn't hate biology and chemistry so much, I swear I would want to pursue a Medical Degree after all of this is over. Actually I feel like I deserve an honorary one--shoot, I've put in enough hours in the hospital!

Throughout this process I have tried my best to understand all the medical terms that are thrown around by my doctors and what I see on my charts. I've re-read my scan reports and google'd words on the Internet to try and get a better grasp of what's going on. Even though my doctors have explained the situation to me, I just want to make sure I have all the details. My thirst for medical understanding became a little too apparent when I was trying to eavesdrop on my surgeon and anesthesiologist before my last surgery---they both glanced over at me smiling as they noticed how I almost fell off the bed trying to hear what they were saying about me.

The biggest thing that I've learned is that I was never in remission. From what I understand, remission is something that is achieved once you have been cancer-free for at least 30 days. In fact, I wasn't ever completely cancer free. My scan in November showed that the chemo was working. It was killing the cancer cells in my body and a lot of them had significantly shrunk in size. They weren't totally gone, but they were on their way to being gone. The remaining 2 rounds of chemo were supposed to completely kill the rest but that didn't happen. Thus, I have what is called "Recurrent Hodgkin's Lymphoma", so I had a recurrence, not a relapse. As in any scary, dark situation, I try to find the sliver lining and in this case, I'm glad it happened now. I'm still in the world of hospitals and needles and doctors, so emotionally I think I can deal with staying in that world longer. But if I had been away from it for months, or even years, I think it would be that much more devastating to find myself at the beginning again.

However, I'm not gonna lie, this is hard. I have to embark upon a whole new treatment, a whole new process and it's scary. Basically I will have to receive an aggressive chemo called ICE (sounds scary right?) and then an even more aggressive chemo called BEAM (not as scary sounding) and then a stem cell transplant. A stem cell transplant is where they take out your own blood cells, pluck off the stem cells, freeze them and then give them back to you after you're done with chemo. The whole process should take about 3 months which (silver lining again!) is less than the last time which took 6 months. I have to believe that it's only good news from here on out; only good scan reports, only good blood tests, only good looks on doctor's faces. And I'm sure I will learn even more medical stuff along the way.

So I'm ready to get started because the sooner I start the sooner I finish. I'm trying to believe that if it had to come back, this was the best time for it to come back. So in my mind a recurrence is better than a relapse. But what do I know? As my mom and I joke, we got our MD's at Kmart :)

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