As you may already know, my first 3 month PET Scan on January 11th proved a very rapid recovery and a definite road to full recovery. This sounds like it’s over right? Well, it’s not over. It is over when the lead Oncologist says it’s over and he is not saying that. What he is saying is that I responded extremely well to the chemotherapy. The lung tumor shrunk to a small strip from a round mass back in September 2015. He said from all tests review, this started in my lower right back, pelvic, ribs then into the right lower lungs. The PET Scan showed cancer cells activities in the bone marrow as well, but overall the activity is very, very small. Nevertheless, there is minimal activity that can be treated successfully.
So, with all that said, what is the next step? Chemotherapy continues as usual. My next two sessions are scheduled for January 28th and February 18th. I am due for a lung puncture biopsy on February 16th. After than there will be monthly chemo until all cancer cells are eradicated from my entire body. This is the personal commitment by both oncologists, Dr. Elizabete Popa and Dr. Gary Schwartz. In addition, I was informed of certain risks. This current treatment course cannot exceed 6 sessions. The session on February 18th is the 6th session. Any more treatment using those types of medicine can severely damage my heart and could lead to heart failure. As a result there are plans to modify the treatment or add a heart protectant potion to the current course. That will be decided upon for March and beyond. One weekend a month I will be spending in New York undergoing treatment. In between treatments will be seeing my oncologist in Florida, Dr. Maen Hussein with Florida Hospital Cancer Center in Tavares, Florida as needed.
What I learned recently:
On January 21st I was educated more on my condition. I learned that Ewing Sarcoma was extremely difficult to diagnose. It took them days to finally come to a final decision after eliminating all other cancer type. I am also the first Asian adult that they are aware of since this type generally affects children and in adults mostly Caucasians. In addition, the fusing of DNA# 11 and DNA #22 only occurs in the cancer cells on the genetic string. It does not switch or can it be found in the good cells. Once #22 is moved, the mutation of the cancer cells is prevalent as #22 is the genes that prevents cancer cells from multiplying. I asked what causes this to occur in healthy persons such as myself. I was told there are no reasons known, except simply bad luck. It is also suggested that the two DNA may have switched back thus preventing cancer cell division. One February 16th they will be testing to see if the genes have returned to their respective spots on my DNA string. Mortality rates for adults is lower than those of children. There is a 70% survival rate in adults for 5 years and a 37% survival rate beyond that. I am praying God places me in the 37% rate. I was also told this is the most painful type of cancer. I can attest to that personally. The pain I felt was nothing I ever felt in my life! It felt like bones breaking like a dry twig and it happens over and over again. I am no longer in pain. Most, if not all the pain went away about a month after the treatment began.
What is my role in all of this?
Wow! My role? Let me see where I can start. First, I have to ensure I eat healthy as well as eat carbohydrates. This is to prevent weight or muscle loss. In addition, I have to consume foods that will help rebuild my blood to prevent more blood transfusions. Gaining weight and staying fit is a key in this recovery process. Next, I have to ensure my mental and emotional state is stable regardless what is around me. A lot of letting go of things and people that may cause be stress. I have to follow the strict guidelines of drinking a lot of fluids to flush the toxins from the chemo meds from my body. I have to be willing to give blood often and not be in fear of needles! This took a while. I can now say I am getting used to it and as they say no pain, no gain. I experience some bone and muscle aches from the post chemo shots that protects my white blood cells. I have to keep moving regardless how I may ache. I have to take it slow, watch where I walk, pay attention to how I use knives and learn to relax a lot more. Most importantly, I must keep smiling!
Over the next few weeks:
I am looking forward to going back to my home after several months away. I am extremely happy to be back with my children again. I miss them both very much. Working in my yard again is a dream at the moment, but soon to become reality. I have had several home improvement projects that were put on hold. I can plan on restarting those again. Going back to work is on my agenda as well. I miss being at work and doing what I love with people and leaders I care for and respect. Balancing my work, home and treatment will become my primary focus the remainder of this year.
Another factor in my life is dealing with the escalating medical bills. This will only continue to climb as my care will extend to the remainder of this year. I have to shift some focus on payment of those services.
I feel at times I was knocked down on my knees. I just had to get up brush off the dust and keep walking. I am not looking back. I plan to try and forget the pain and the hard road I left behind. The future looks bright and promising. I may not have all the things I wanted, but I know I have the things I need. Family and friends have been a great support system and I want to extend thanks to all those who encouraged me and stood with me. In times like these, we truly see who cares.
Finally, I am happy to share my weaning off medications in my next blog. This is one of the most profound things I did on my own; coming off prescribed medications. So, watch for my next blog. Until then, be safe, be strong and may God shower His blessing on you and yours.