So what does one do while they are on a wonderful summer vacation with their family and facing such a dilemma? Nothing! I knew that once we landed in San Diego a PET CT Scan was already scheduled for follow up. That is all that can be done. So why let cancer win and ruin my first time ever traveling to London?
I did not tell anyone either, as I did not want to see the looks of concern or discuss what the plan would be. I really enjoyed being in a moment where nothing was wrong, or at least seemed wrong. It was how things should be. The children were playing happily, the adults we were enjoying outings at night for dinners and taking tours of the castles and churches with so much history. It was a happy time that I did not want cancer to take over.
At last our trip ended and we returned home to San Diego. My son went on to different day camps and enjoyed himself, my husband returned to work. I however, sat at my desk and had no desire to work on my line. I was tired. I knew the fight was going to continue with my cancer treatments so the swimwear would have to wait for now. My mind was in a fog as I drove down to have my PET CT Scan. I left there knowing it was not going to be clear, yet I still did not tell my husband. I wanted these moments to be mine and mine alone. I did not want to the worry or the discussions quite yet. It was such a nice summer with traveling to Italy, playing in the waters of the Mediterranean, enjoying delicious food, then traveling to London to visit family and see the sites. The summer continued to be nice as my son did enjoy himself at camp and I could have some alone time and get 'mom' stuff done.
Then the results came in from my scan. My husband and I received the call from my doctor and looked at the images. A lymph node was showing up in my neck and that was it. No where else in my body. My husband looked puzzled and asked me, "Can you feel that?" I said, "Yes I have known about it for awhile now." He looked at me surprised. Because normally the moment I feel something abnormal I always show him. I explained, " I wanted to enjoy my summer and I knew we were going to have this scan anyhow." He smiled and gave me a hug, I think he felt things changing on how we were going to handle this cancer situation. We now are living with a chronic condition, one that will never go away. So why race around trying to be rid of something that will never truly go away? Enjoy our lives and be happy with what we have and that we still have each other is how I now see this.
I went to see my doctor and the new plan was an oral treatment and I went in every three weeks for IV treatments of Avastin. I grew quite fatigued with the oral treatment yet I was not going to lose my hair which I was quite happy about. I did not want to lose my hair again. It was important to me.
I had a follow up PET/CT Scan in October to see if the cancer was shrinking from the new meds. Unfortunately, my doctor called and said there was progression more lymph nodes were lighting up and the resolution was much brighter than before. I was to go and see him as soon as I could to rethink the medicine or strategy on how to stop the growing.
The strategy? My doctor said instead of putting me through chemotherapy again why not treat the cancer as a local issue and use radiation as a therapy instead. More tolerable and it may be the answer. I was stunned to hear no other medicines. I would walk out of his office without a new prescription. No IV treatments this time around. Let's give you a break, I kept hearing the words in my mind. At first I was so stunned about it that it did not feel natural to not be on any medicine. I have been on some sort of cocktail for six years. But this is not because I am running out of options necessarily, it is because they want to reserve the meds that are left and try to give me a break as the cancer is not visible anywhere else in my system.
I walked out of his office very pleased. I could feel like myself for once!
Now fast forward to December, I began radiation about three weeks ago to my upper right side of my neck. It is starting to become pink but we are noticing the lump is now shrinking. I have a few more weeks to go, total amount is seven weeks. I will be quite red by then but as long as it kills the abnormal cells that is all that matters.
How long will this last? What is the next option? What will I do if it returns? One day at time is my motto and for right now I am feeling good and the cancer is shrinking. The pain from the lump pushing on nerves into my neck and jaw has subsided. Will the cancer come back? Yes most defiantly but for now we have a small victory. Cancer is a pain in the neck, yes, but that is all for now and it can be tolerated.