October 9, 2013

Chemotherapy Complete. Now the Road to Recovery Begins!

As I lick my wounds over the Rays loss to Boston last night, I remembered that I haven't updated my blog in a while. 

Monday was my Oncologist and chemo appointment. The good news is I'm done with chemo treatments! Yeah!! But don't get too excited. The bad news is my white blood count hit the floor again … it's waaaaaaay low. And even though they reduced my 5FU on my last chemo treatment to try and lessen the numbness in my feet and hands, it only got worse. Just typing this right now is a chore as I am continually missing keys and hitting wrong ones! However, I feel my feet are suffering the worst. I have a hard time standing from a sitting position because of the numbness and aches in my joints. It requires great concentration to be stable. Right now I look like an 85 year old woman hobbling around when I first stand up! So because a very low white blood count means my bone marrow is having a hard time rebuilding and leaves me susceptible to other serious issues AND because the neuropathy in my hands and feet can end up being permanent, the Oncologist said it would be best to stop at the 10 treatments rather than risk any more damage to my body.

My next course of action is to rest and begin the long rebuilding process. I have been exhausted and sleeping a lot lately.  I plan to return to work in the next three and a half weeks, so hopefully my blood counts are back up where they belong. My red count is still low too, which causes anemia, another reason why I'm napping all the time! In five weeks I go back to the Oncologist and he checks my blood work again. (I never thought to ask what happens if my white count remains low.) From that point on I see the Oncologist every three months for the next year. In year two I see the Oncologist every six months. By year five ALL the bodies cells will have turned over - which means that is the point I can find out if I am truly cancer free. I'll also have to get a yearly colonoscopy, I'm not sure for how long. So even though I'm done with chemo, I'm still not done dealing with all that goes along with becoming cancer free. Sure the doc has blood markers that will offer some indication as to whether the cancer may be coming back again. But like my Oncologist said, they can not "guarantee" anyone is cancer free after chemo, they can only make logical deductions based on years of research. I'm not saying this to be a downer, I am saying this because it is a reality of dealing with this disease. As you know by reading some of the guest blogger posts, cancer can come back when you don't expect it. I'd be lying if I said I'm not nervous to have my colonoscopy in the spring, I'm terrified! If you recall, this all started with what everyone believed to be a few small benign polyps … and here I sit today. 

Don't get me wrong, I'm happy I'm done. My exhaustion and other ailments are preventing me from jumping for joy at this point. I still have a long road to recovery ahead of me but at least I'm done with the chemo which has wreaked havoc on my body. There are many things I look forward to, I just need to be patient as it will be slow going! I look forward to my hair growing back, the rash on my body going away, losing the 20 lbs I gained during treatment, having energy to get to the gym and work out again, going out in public without fear of compromising my immune system, eating sushi, traveling and just living life to the fullest with my loved ones.

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