Monday, April 16, 2012

My Health Update: One Year After Chemo

About this time last year, I was physically paralyzed from chemo treatments and wondering if I would ever be able to walk again. I wasn’t eating because my mouth sores were bleeding too much. I was hooked up to machines when I was at the hospital and to iv poles even when I went home. The side effects from my chemo were cumulative with each round, so after a certain point, my body just started shutting down. My oncologist told me that quitting was not an option. I had to finish ALL of my treatments if I wanted to have any chance of living to be around for my husband and our seven-month-old son.

Fast forward twelve months later and here I am today: completely finished with chemo, surgeries, reconstruction, weekly blood draws, and even Coumadin. For the most part, my strength and energy have fully returned, and I feel like I am genuinely living. (Meaning not just going through the motions and trying to get past each day, but actively putting forth my best effort and enjoying each and every little moment as well as the people that I am blessed enough to have in my life).  I do still suffer from a frustrating “pin and needles” sensation (neuropathy) in my hands and feet. I’m not sure if this is because there is residual chemo in my body or if it is the result of permanent nerve damage. It may be something that I will always have to deal with, but I know that it is a small price to pay for me to be alive.

Some may think that being a survivor means that I am “cured”, but I am not completely out of the woods yet. The doctors will keep a very close eye on me, especially since my particular type of cancer has a high recurrence rate for the first couple of years. I am scheduled to have CT scans and PET scans every six months, and regular physical exams with my oncologist every three months.

At my doctor’s appointment this morning, they told me that I do currently have an ovarian cyst (which is scary because ovarian cancer is so closely related to breast cancer). We are hoping that it will dissolve itself between now and my next ultrasound in June. If it doesn’t, then I will insist that they perform surgery on me to remove the cyst, whether it appears to be cancerous or not.  Another concern has to do with my fertility for when we start trying to get pregnant again. Although we are extremely excited about having more children, we are told that we can’t even start trying until January, when it is considered to be “safe” (because the chemo will finally be out of my system). Even then, it is likely that my body may not be able to get pregnant easily or at all. We will just have to hope and pray for the best, and of course, wait and see what happens. This is especially challenging for me, because I am so very eager to have a brother or sister for Ryan.

Thankfully, my stressors lately have been much more lighthearted than they were last spring. I worry about getting enough sleep so that I can keep up with an extremely active toddler and trying not to over-schedule us with play dates, activities, and classes (which I have a tendency to do!) I feel pressure to do my very best job on my grad school work for a demanding class this semester. But I think that, overall, these are great problems to have! And I would much rather be too busy than not busy enough.

The other day, I took Ryan to see Amy's National Garden of Hope, which is a tulip garden that was planted as a tribute to 17-year-old breast cancer survivor, Amy Erickson of Caribou Coffee.  It was such a beautiful day and just perfect for our little picnic.








(For those who live in the area, this is a part of Brookside Gardens, which is one of my favorite local places to take Ryan because they have seasonal, nature-based events and exhibits year-round).



6 comments:

  1. So glad you are doing so well. God Bless~

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  2. @Pamela- Thank you so much!!

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  3. I am so proud of you - you are amazing and so strong! I hope the cyst goes away fast. <3 you!!!

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  4. @Karen- Thanks hun! Love you too! <3

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  5. Beautiful pictures. You are such an inspiration, Dana! Wishing you continued health and happiness!

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  6. @Jessica- Thanks! And the same for you!

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