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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Getting There...

I was sweating bullets today because I had a PET scan yesterday to determine if the awful ICE chemo is doing it's job and today was the day I found out the results. I nearly had a nervous breakdown in the hospital waiting room because I haven't heard good news in a while and I really felt like I was due some good news. So it turns out that most of the cancer is gone! I had several lymph nodes in my chest and armpit area that "lit up" AKA show malignant cells on my previous PET scan and in this recent scan they have all ceased to show malignant activity.

However there is one node in my chest that is still active, it has shrunk significantly in size but it's still there. I was pretty upset because this means that I will have to have another round of ICE chemo. I was told that I could only avoid the 3rd round of chemo if my PET scan showed that all the cancer was gone. 3 days, 8 hours of being hooked up to poisonous drugs is pure torture and I absolutely hate it, so the thought of another round is really depressing. Nonetheless, I'm trying to look on the bright side and my nurse said that the fact that the cancer went away in the other parts of my body show that I have chemo-sensitive disease and it makes for a better prognosis. My doctor even said "wow" when he saw my results and saw that the remaining lymph node shrunk so significantly. So I tried to pull myself together and see the bright side, but its still so hard when you're facing so many things ahead.

Slowly but surely I'm getting there.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Dear Cancer...

I work in advertising so I try not be swayed by the advertising I see in magazines, TV or online (lol, I think I'm too smart to fall for it!) but I saw this ad in a magazine for a cancer center that really spoke to me. The ad was simple, it was a letter to cancer from a cancer patient, basically telling cancer to get the hell out of his life. He was done and ready to say goodbye.

I saw this ad and thought, "Me too! I want to tell cancer to get out of my life too!". So I decided to write my own letter to cancer...words have power and by putting it out there, I feel more powerful and ready to fight cancer.

Dear cancer,

I hate you. You have come into my life unexpectedly and turned it upside down. You've caused me to question my future, question my body and question my spirit. I didn't know how hard life could be, how much pain and anguish it could bring until you came into my life and changed everything for me.

You make me sick. Emotionally, spiritually and most of all physically. You've made me feel like crap for days on end and leave me in tears and distress, and it's not fair what you've put me through. But I dealt with your abuse for 6 months. And then, when I thought you were on your way out of my life, you came back; stronger than ever and tried to hold me down. Well guess what? I'm not going to take this lying down. I want you out of my life for GOOD. I have an army of doctors and drugs and I will fight you to YOUR death. So don't worry about what I will do when you're gone, I will be happy and healthy and never look back.

Yeah, I've learned some important lessons from from having you in my life, I will be stronger than ever before after you are gone, but that doesn't mean that I thank you for being in my life. I will do anything in my power to make sure you leave my life forever. So GET OUT, and STAY OUT.


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Living my life

I had plans. Not huge plans, but I had set my sights on having a great summer and making fun plans for the future...going to Ross' graduation, attending weddings for close friends and perhaps a Caribbean vacation. This was going to be the summer that I rejoiced over my victory over cancer and I was really excited about making these plans. Then my world crashed around me...again...and I found out that the cancer never went away. Suddenly I felt like I couldn't do anything but worry about saving my life. All my so-called important plans went out the window and I didn't know if I could do anything that I wanted to do except go to the hospital and get treated.

Since my first round of ICE chemo was so rough that I could barely get out of the bed, how did I expect to do anything else? Yet the body is miraculous. I slowly recovered and in a week I was my normal self, no nausea, no sickness, it was like it never happened. So then I thought, "why can't I do what I want to do?" I didn't let cancer and chemo slow me down the first time, I still went to work, I still went out with my friends and I still lived my life. This treatment is a lot more aggressive and I have to be a lot more careful since it causes my white blood cell counts to decrease to extremely low levels, putting me at risk to get sick. But I spoke with my doctor to determine when my white blood cell counts would be high enough again for me to travel and I decided I would continue to live my life (within reason of course) and do the things that are important to me.

A nurse at the hospital told me that I have to be positive and believe that everything will be ok and I think a large part of that is continuing to do the things that make me happy. So I booked a flight to Pittsburgh for Ross' graduation and made tentative plans to attend the weddings. The Caribbean vacation? That's on hold until all of this is over, I will definitely need to celebrate. Doing all the "normal" things that I would have done despite cancer is so important. Going to work everyday that I can is really important because it makes me feel like "me" again when I'm going through all of these scary, un-normal things.

In the spirit of living my life, I've been continuing my search for my wedding dress. And Easter weekend we found it! My mom and I went to Kleinfield's (home to TLC's "Say Yes To The Dress") and I said yes to the dress! (And no, to every one's surprise I didn't opt to be on the show...there was no real incentive except being on TV). I'm so happy that we found it before I started to get really sick, it gives me something fun to think abut when I'm not feeling well. I had my second treatment this past week and it was out patient--which meant I got to go home every night and sleep in my own bed. Ross and my dad came into town for the treatment and my dad is still in NYC playing the role of "nurse" as I recover :) Spending some father/daughter time has been good for both of us. He's been great, coming up with projects to do around the house when I feel up to the time he leaves my apartment will be spotless!

So day by day, step by step, trying to continue to live my life. That's my reality right now.