Post Chemo Check-Up

Paul said I owe the world a blog post! I’ve just been feeling so tired and sick the past few weeks — I’m not gonna lie, it’s been pretty rough. But it has been awhile since I posted, so here goes!

I went to see Garrett on Tuesday for my first official post-chemo follow up appointment. It was so surreal to be in his office and not be receiving chemo.  The infusion room was pretty busy and I had an out of body experience looking at all the people and their loved ones sitting in there. Oddly, I have very little memory of being in the chair myself. I think back on all those months and I have no idea how I got through every week. I suppose it’s amazing what the mind and body will do to protect itself.

As for my appointment. We discussed the results of my echocardiogram, PET scan and, most importantly, my tumor marker blood work.

Echocardiogram: Results overall were normal. There was a notation that I am showing a slight regurgitation in both my mitral and tricuspid valves. G says it’s nothing to worry about.  A slight arrhythmia was also detected. Again, not to be worried about at this point.

PET Scan: Results overall were normal.  They noticed mild to moderate maxillary sinus mucosal thickening (oh shit! I better start using the neti-pot twice a day, don’t want to have to undergo a third endoscopic sinus surgery for damn nasal polyps).  They also noted a 4mm nodule in my right lung.  Garrett said it’s not mets (ie it’s not cancer) but it’s likely a prominent vessel or some scuz deposited by my infected port a few months ago. He said that lots of people have unknown spots in their lungs from traumas past that they are unaware of and that aren’t cancer.

In my pre-cancer life, I would’ve jumped all over both of these test results and demanded further testing to ensure everything was truly ok. Now, in my post-cancer world, I leave it to the experts. If G tells me not to stress and the results look good — I listen.  WOW, cancer really has been life-changing for me!

Tumor Marker Test: A bit of background on this one for ya. According to G a score less than 32 is good. Nobody is at a 0.  If you are at a 10 versus a 27 it doesn’t matter — that is just YOUR number. A high or low number is irrelevant. What matters is the deviation (plus or minus) from YOUR number.  So if somebody’s baseline number is a 12 and 3 months later they score a 13, that’s fine. 3 months after that, if they score a 16, there is cause for concern. Make sense?

So my baseline (which was taken before I started chemo therapy back in December) is an 8. Which means anything between a 5-11 is OK for me.  My follow-up score was a 9. yay.

The only thing that gave G pause, was my white blood cell count, it was pretty elevated, which led him to believe I’m fighting an infection.  Man, the numbers do not lie! I did come down with a terrible soar throat over the weekend, but I thought it had passed.  Turns out it was just sort of dormant and it actually ended up coming back with a vengeance two hours after I left G’s office.  Thankfully he prescribed me a 5-day Z-pak to kick it to the curb for good.

This is worth talking about for a brief second. Pre-cancer, if I got a soar through, I just did Nyquil and cough drops and it went away. Post cancer, I need antibiotics to help my body fight it. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the cold I had in Hawaii because I have been really fatigued and dragging ever since our trip. To help you quantify what I mean by “dragging” I’ve spent the past 5 out of 6 days in bed.  On the one day I was out and about, I logged 5 miles and over 12000 steps on my pedometer.  That amount of exertion, landed me back in bed for two days.

So now I know, that even if I feel good, I really need to pace my recovery. What seems like little exertion to most, will kick me in the ass and bring down my immune system even more. Ugh.

But let me end this on a positive note — all of my baseline tests came back normal and my tumor marker is on target. I’m really grateful for that!

Sick in Hawaii = Bummerpants

I wrote this one on May 21st:

We landed on Maui on Friday after my last chemo. I thought all would be well, but I was fighting a slight soar throat when we left. I’ve been so vigilant about staying away from germs, but maybe I let my guard down during my last week (I’m sure the 5 hour flight from SFO to Hawaii didn’t help).  All I know is that this nasty cold has taken hold and is wreaking havoc on my body presently.

Since we landed, I’ve pretty much been rendered to the bed or to a cot (aka lounge chair) poolside. On Sunday, I went to the gym, walked one mile and did my PT exercises. Then, later that same day, I thought I’d be fine to golf 18 holes. What? It’s resort golf, Paul pretty much drove me up to every single one of my shots — but, as it turns out, that was WAY too much.  I over did it BIG time. On Monday, I was down for the count. Literally. I think I managed an hour by the pool, then it was back to bed for me. I couldn’t move.

It was pretty scary to be honest. I’ve not felt that beat down the entire time during chemo. Everybody told me it’s “cumulative” and it will bite you. But they all told me it’d be my second to last, or last chemo, that would be the worst. Well, as always, I’m the exception to the rule, it’s the week after my last chemo that’s been horrific for me.

Every single inch of me hurts. My bones ache (like as in, I can’t hold my kindle upright for too long, b/c my wrist bones start to ache at their core), my teeth hurt, my scalp hurts, my skin aches, and did I mention my bones hurts? Like my ribs hurt — so every time I move, it’s just friggin’ painful.  Who knows — maybe the sun is making everything worse. But in my past experience, the sun always makes things better for me. A little vitamin D goes a long way to make me feel better 🙂

So fingers crossed this head cold of mine and these all-consuming body aches of mine will pass very, very soon. Ugh.

(PS – happy to report that my sickness only stuck around for a few days. I was feeling like myself again by the end of the week! Yay!)