Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Five Years Cancer Free!

I just had my five year CT scan. My scans look perfectly normal. My blood work also looks good although my blood sugar is a little high. It's hard to believe that this journey started five and half years ago with some shocking news. I didn't know what to expect but it seemed like nothing but bad news at the time. I was scared and a little bit angry that this could happen to me. Looking back on the experience reveals some surprises. First of all, I learned that I'm stronger than I ever knew I was. I never faced any serious health problems in the past and I didn't know how I would handle this one. From the start, I decided to have a positive attitude and not be afraid. I can't stress the importance of a good attitude enough. It made the whole experience less stressful and it made it easier to follow the doctors' advice. By avoiding stress and sticking to a regimen of constant hand washing and avoiding crowds, I was able to attend every infusion on schedule. I didn't miss a single day of work during my six months of chemo. Taking notes at every doctor appointment helped as well. It's hard to remember what was said at an appointment within hours of leaving the doctor's office. Good note taking made it easier to follow instructions and remember the answers to questions I asked the doctor. One of the biggest surprises to me was that I started feeling happy while I still had cancer. It put things in perspective for me in a way that few things could. I live in the present now. I spend less time feeling angry about stupid things from the past and I don't worry about the future as much. In a strange way, it may be lucky that this happened to me. I need to think of a way to celebrate my good news. Maybe a trip somewhere would be a good way to mark the occasion. If you've just been diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma, don't get depressed. You can win this fight and be happier than you were before you got the news. Now go beat this and start planning where you'll take your five year trip!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Another Scan

I went in for my scheduled CT scan on July 19th. I'll get the results back on Monday. I completely forgot about it until I remembered I had to update my blog. I suppose that shows I really am moving on. Now when I think about my experience, I am more likely to feel like someone who has overcome a challenge than someone who was or is vulnerable. At the same time, I try to prepare myself for the possibility of getting bad news when I get scanned. Surprisingly, I'm not nervous the cancer will return. I'm afraid they'll find something else!

Before I started chemo, my heart was checked. One of the chemo drugs can cause heart damage and they like to make sure everything is OK before they get started. At that time, I learned I had a PFO (Patent Foramen Ovale). The short explanation is that all fetuses have a hole in their heart to speed cirulation. In 75% of people it closes up and in 25% of people it doesn't. It's usually not a problem and most people go their whole lives without knowing about it. However, there is an increased risk of stroke for people who have it.

Before being scanned, I am required to fill out a questionnaire that asked many questions including "Do you have a PFO?" (I suggested they add the words patent foramen ovale to the form and they did.) Since there is a chance that a patient could have a stroke when they inject contrast during a CT scan, they must first get permission from your doctor. And that can take time. It was suggested that I ask my doctor for a SIGNED business card saying that it is OK for me to receive contrast even with my PFO. I'll need to show it every time.

If you have a PFO, they have to make sure there are no bubbles in the liquid. Two people must check the contrast before it is injected into you. Personlly, since 25% of people have a hole in their heart and most don't even know they have it, I think it should be standard practice to have two people check it every time for every patient.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Two Years Later

May 8th was the second anniversary of finishing chemotherapy. My scans and blood work continue to come back fine and my immune system is strong again. I'm trying to live in the present and keep things in perspective. Like they say, don't sweat the small stuff. With a cancer diagnosis, you learn that almost everything is the small stuff. It's time to enjoy the late spring and summer!

Friday, January 29, 2010

My One and a Half Year Scan

I got the results back from my latest CT scan and the Dr. said they were "unremarkable". My dictionary says that unremarkable means ordinary and yet I think the results are extraordinary!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Follow-up Visit

I'm now seeing my doctor every 3 months for follow-up visits where my blood is checked . Each 6 months, I get another CT scan. All is well!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

No Mo Lympho

I just had my one year scan and I am lymphoma free! My doctor advises celebrating and I always follow doctor's orders.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Another Clean Scan

I had a another scan and got the results back on March 17th. Everything looks great and my ENT says that my adenoid tissue looks better than ever. My next scan is an important one because it will be close to one year. If the cancer remains in remission for a year, not only are the chances of a recurrence reduced but the virulence of the disease would be likely less.