Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Scan

Just got my one-year scan results. I'm clean - no evidence of disease (NED, in the vernacular). It's a big relief. As much as finishing treatment was a big milestone, this one feels a little bigger. It allows me to mentally finish moving into that "Life After Cancer" frame of mind.

Man, sending out the "All clear!" texts and emails to my friends and family felt good. And to get all the positive responses right away, that felt even better. Thanks all ...

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Saturday

Slow getting started this Saturday morning. Busy week with work ramping up again to it's normal frenetic pace (it's not that the work I do is frenetic - I just sit and think and read and think and write and think some more all day, but there's just a lot of it, and it's always a struggle to stay on top of things and be focused) and I've been trying to keep up a somewhat active social calendar to "live life" and "seize the day" more. Anyways, it caught up with me a bit last night and I just crashed very early, like 7:00p or so. And I'm still a bit zoned.

Yesterday was my one-year CT scan. The scan itself was no big deal - go in, drink the nasty shake with the radioactive tracers, get an IV put in, lie down on the table, hold your breath while the machine does some test runs, get the tracers injected into you (and get a super warm fuzzy feeling all over you), hold your breath a few more times while the scan is performed, have the IV take out, sit a bit to make sure I'm not having an allergic reaction to the iodine in the tracers, and then leave.

It's the *results* I'm interested in. I get those Tuesday. My chemo onc said he could call me and tell me over the phone that everything is fine, or, if there's something we really need to talk about, we can schedule an appointment after the scan. Well, I certainly don't want to do that. I mean, I don't want to get a phone call from the receptionist to schedule an appointment for a few days out, because then I *know* something is wrong, and those days would be absolute torture. Why would a doctor even propose that idea a patient? (I guess, maybe if it's a hassle to get to teh office ...) So, I settle for a much lower level of anxiety for a known number of days instead.

I thought I'd be pretty cool about the whole thing until Thursday night. I thought about what it would be like to get the news that it's come back and how hard it would be to accept that, and I really got depressed, scared and a bit afraid. Then, after work on Friday, I noticed I missed two calls from Dr. Whiteford, my surgeon. My heart just sunk. I started thinking. Why would he be calling me? Did he already get the report from my scan, and things are so bad that my *surgeon* also wants to see me? I listened to the message and it was just a robo-call reminding me of my appointment this coming week to have the port taken out. Whew ....

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Dealing with fatigue less and less. My fingertips are still numb (they feel like they have candle wax on them) and in the past week or so my feet have become slightly numb. I knew about hand/foot numbness, of course, and was expecting it, but I wasn't expecting anything new symptoms to appear *after* I finished up chemo. Chemo just keeps on giving.

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When I was running last weekend, I couldn't help but think about the first few runs I did after being diagnosed. It was a little less than a year ago and I remember thinking to myself, even if I wind up with a bag, as long as I can do this (run, be active ...), I'll be OK. That thought kept me going through treatment, and there I was, almost a year later, running the same route (except this time with a colostomy) and, yeah, I was feeling OK. Actually, I was feeling better than OK. I was feeling euphoric a couple times during the run. It just felt soooo good to get out there and run again. I was (and am) feeling so good about having my heath return, and really, just being alive.

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One of the songs I recently downloaded from iTunes and been listening to a lot is "Moving on Up" by Primal Scream. But only Sunday when I was running did I listen to the lyrics. They fit where I am right now perfectly. Thought I'd share some of them ...

I'm movin' on up now
Gettin' out of the darkness
My light shines on
My light shines on
My light shines on
...
I'm getting outta darkness
My light shines on
I'm getting outta darkness

My light shines on

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

One year scan coming up ...

It's getting close to my cancerversary (1/15/10 - lump detected in my arse during my annual physical; 1/19/10 - CT scan and biopsy, first heard the "C" word (Doc: "I'm worried it's cancer"); 1/21/10 - yep, it's cancer (Doc: "Well, we got the biopsy results back ...") and my one year scan is this Friday. Looking forward to it actually. Want it done. Want to hear the good news that nothing shows up on the scan. Then we can take the port out.

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Saw my ostomy / wound nurse, Natalie, today. Haven't had to see her in a few months. I was due because the skin underneath the base plate has been irritated for a few weeks. It's not too bad, and she gave me a bunch of tips to help things out - take shorter showers (the base plate soaks up the moisture, causing it to peel back, which makes me burn through base plates quicker), take cooler showers (I like scalding hot showers, but it destroys my skin - when I shower without any appliance on, that may be not good for skin under the wafer), use a convex base plate (this will make the stoma protrude from the skin a bit more, which would hopefully reduce the amount of waste that gets under the wafer, which also causes me to burn through more base plates - it's also a consequence of me putting on the weight that I have since surgery - the belly contours aren't all the same as before), and use antibacterial soap instead of regular old soap. So, it was a good trip, not only for all the good tips, but it's fun to visit Natalie and catch up while we're talking shop.

It's probably going to be another month before I try irrigating. It takes quite a commitment. It'll take 90 mins/day (or every other day) to start with, and it'll still be a few months of wearing a bag before I get my body trained and I learn to listen to my body enough to know when irrigation is complete. She said you can get the irrigation time down to 30-45 minutes at that point, and even then it's only every other day usually, so it's not a terrible draw on your free time. Then, I can play without a net - it'll be NO BAGS for Doug (unless I don't irrigate). Just a little stoma cap to catch any excess mucus ("stoma sweat," in the vernacular) produced.

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Having a good start to the New Year. Threw the dog in the car and took a road trip down to Pasadena to meet up with some college buds and watch Wisconsin play in the Rose Bowl. Took some extra time to drive up and down the California coast, which was well worth it. Been able to exercise somewhat regularly and eating a bit better. Still tons of material to read through, but I'm off to a good start.

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