Friday, January 18, 2013

happy birthday to me

One year ago today I was waiting for a phone call.  That phone call told me that my melanoma was showing up in my liver, bones, and under the skin in lots of places. 

My doctor's last words after we had discussed stage IV and its treatments at length:  "The median survival from a stage IV diagnosis is one year."  And I had the bad prognostic factors that could put me leaving possibly much quicker.  "I think you'll still be fighting."

Last year on my birthday we were waiting in the mall for our buzzer to go off to get my favorite appetizer.  I got the dreaded phone call right outside of H&M.  It was one of those moments where I physically couldn't stand.  They scheduled me immediately for a brain MRI.  We gave the buzzer back to the Cheesecake Factory and took off.  Today on the way home from the hospital I said..."I think I'll have those avocado egg rolls."

 I love that the American Cancer Society calls themselves the official sponsor of birthdays.  “Happy Birthday” is a victory song for the 11 million cancer survivors celebrating birthdays this year.  

 And so it was for me tonight as my beautiful boys sang it to me.  This year they even included the "happy."

Friday, January 11, 2013

radiation therapy

Just wanted to let you know all is well.  We are back to survival mode this month, so not a lot of blogging.  Radiation is Monday through Friday until the 23rd.  It takes about two hours out of my day, and most of that time is commuting to the hospital.

They wondered if I would get nauseous because they are close to my stomach, but not shooting directly at it.  I did come home and throw up an hour after my first treatment.  I now take medications before I go in and that seems to do the trick.  

I am starting to feel some fatigue.  When I wake up I feel like someone has taken a giant glue stick to my back and stuck me on the bed.  Also my eyes feel sealed with rubber cement.  But I get up eventually.  And I found that if I keep my shoes on until the boys get to sleep, I can resist the urge to crawl into bed until the evening. 

The radiation techs said that the radiation will destroy what's in its path, but normal tissue cells have memory cells and will repair themselves.  Cancer cells don't have the same memory, they just die (suckers!).  They say the side effect of fatigue is from your body repairing the damage they are causing.  I have asked how long it will take for the tumor to die.  They said slowly because it is melanoma.  I haven't felt a difference in the tumor in my armpit (this is the one they are not radiating). 

I am also back to the old night sweat situation.  I wake up drenched and chilled in the middle of the night.  Often several times a night. 

These all sound like complaints as I'm reading through them.  That wasn't my intent.  I am going to say the worst of it is that in the middle of the day as I head to the hospital, and in the middle of the night as I wake up freezing cold, I feel like a cancer patient again.  I am reminded of my situation. 

It's mostly a mental thing right now. 

I am still trying to process what happened this year.  I have some thoughts on 'resolutions,' and sadness about how not all crappy things can be resolved.  Done, checked off the list, finished, etc.  They linger and we live with them.  Cancer will be one of those things, they will never stop looking for it in me.  

I am working on a photo album of 2012 for my blog.  What a year!  I think if 2012 was a game, I won!!!