May 4, 2011 – The day has finally come to publish this entry. This morning, my doctor opened the door to the exam room where Angela and I were waiting and before she was even all the way in the room she raised up a handful of papers and said, “I’ll cut right to the chase, it’s all good news.” I am truly a cancer survivor.
My tumor has continued to shrink and display less and less uptake activity indicating that since the stem cell transplant, 8 months ago, there has been absolutely no growth or advancement of cancer anywhere in my body and the mass of cells that once dominated the space behind my sternum is continuing to shrink and fade away.
Naturally, I am relieved and happy. I am most happy for my family because they all deserve to live a normal life. We have been so shaped and guided the past two years by the necessity to take care of MY needs, that I am grateful to finally and officially arrive in a place where it is not ALL about me. That was a lot of pressure for someone who does not like or need, lots of attention.
We hugged, we laughed a little and then we agreed to meet again in 6 months for another follow up PET Scan. That will be a part of what I do from now on, or probably at least until I get 5 years out past the transplant. I commented to Angela as we walked down the front corridor at Winship Cancer Institute, “This is the first time I’ve walked out of here smiling.”
Ever the prepared planner, Angela pulled the car off into a little park area shortly after we got off the hospital grounds and told me to get out of the car. From the back of the car, she produced a little split of champagne and two flutes. We hugged again and toasted the outcome that we have known would come. This is a great day.
As I mentioned at the top of this entry, I created this post, titled, “Remission” way back in June 2009. It was at the point where I had reached the end of what was supposed to be my first 12 doses of chemotherapy, but at the last week or two, found out that my doctor wanted to do four more infusions of ABVD chemotherapy because my Hodgkin’s Lymphoma was not going away. I was depressed at the thought of more chemo, and needed to affirm in my mind that there was a reason and a goal behind all the misery. I never published it of course because I never achieved the elusive state of remission until now. But from time to time, I did re-visit the post, deep down in the chronological list of blog entries and added a few thoughts to it. Those thoughts are below. For now, I am taking the rest of the day off!
December 2, 2010 – 90 days have passed since the transplant. That means I am halfway to the point where I am supposed to be able to do all the things normal people can do…although I feel that I can do a lot of those things now. These three months have not been the cloistered miserable lockdown period I had been expecting, but they have not been easy. Yes, I have been able to get back to work. Yes, I look like a normal person (with very very short hair). But I have been plagued by a mystery lung affliction for nearly two months. Hopefully that is coming to an end. Two weeks from today I will get my PET scan to determine if the transplant worked. It had to. I cannot put my family through this again.
June 28, 2010 – Today is my Dad’s birthday, and it was nice to be able to celebrate with him for the second year in a row. It was also my day to meet with Dr. Langston to go over my evaluation tests from last week. Even though the PET scan showed that the tumor has reduced in size, she was not pleased with the size of the reduction. She had been hoping for a more dramatic change in size than the 1 cm reduction that actualized. Once again, this is another checkpoint that has delivered less than ideal results. I am still focused on the end result and determined to win, but it is frustrating getting bad news. I felt the need to check in on this post and remind myself that remission is coming and I will get there.
May 12, 2010 – Going to have to wait on this one. My cancer is back.