Winter into spring went by in a flash. One minute I was doing okay, then next January rolled straight into April and before I knew it, spring arrived. So what happened between January and April? Let me tell.
It has been a few months since I blogged on my condition. With good reason as you will see with my recent experience, struggles and triumphs. In my previous blog I talked about remission and what that meant. September2016 PET Scan results showed no trace of cancer and as a result we decided to stretch out the treatments from every 3 weeks to every 6 weeks starting in November. That only lasted one 6 week cycle before the cancer returned with a vengeance in January 2017.
What does it mean by cancer recurrence?
If cancer is found after treatment, and after a period of time when the cancer couldn’t be detected, it’s called a cancer recurrence. The recurrent cancer might come back in the same place it first started, or it might come back somewhere else in the body. When cancer spreads to a new part of the body, it’s still named after the part of the body where it started. It’s not possible to predict how likely a cancer is to recur, but cancer is harder to treat and more likely to come back if it’s:
- Fast growing
- More advanced or widespread
The cancer that plagues me is extremely fast growing. When it came back, it come back very quickly and spread rapidly on my right side. We saw this happened twice: June 2016 and January 2017.
It was pushing very hard on my right lungs causing me to have breathing issues. I had to be put on the breathing tube. I had to be on wheel chair mode of transportation for about 3 days. Walking became impossible. I was not getting enough oxygen to aid in walking. This resulted in yet another blood transfusion late January.
Over a weekend, it was almost on the entire right half of my body according to the CT scan. I was hospitalized from January 23rd-29th. During that time, we had to change the chemotherapy medication along with obtaining another blood transfusion. I was administered the new drugs on day 2 after admission and it worked immediately to start killing the cells. It is a 5 day infusion for one and a half hour along with an oral chemo tablet. The medications I am currently on are:
- Irinotecan: This is given by infusion
- Temozolomide knows also as Temador. This is one pill for 5 days taken orally immediately after the infusion of the Irinotecan
Learn more about these and other cancer drugs at: http://www.chemocare.com/
What does all this mean for me?
At first, things were moving fairly quickly. Two of my brothers and my sisters were here to take care of me and my home. I was not able to do much upon discharge from the hospital. I barely made it to work and used most of my energy there. When I got home, I had to rest for about 2 hours in order to regain energy to eat dinner, water my garden or go for a stroll. Walking and moving has been getting harder and harder as the months go by. Driving and focus became challenging.
I needed a lot of rest and definitely staying away from stress was critical. A few stressful things happen during that time. First my fence was crashed into and had to be repaired. That took several weeks. Next, my son moved out into his apartment early March. He had to settle in and try to assert independence at age 25. God is with him and I still love seeing him every Sunday when he comes for lunch. Finally, I had to undergo one week of radiation to try to reduce the size of the cancer cells.
Radiation you say? That should be a cake walk, no so!
That one week of radiation in February went easy. Just 15 minutes across the chest area. I have 3 markers, right side and left side ribs and the center of the chest. The process itself is simple and fast. However, because it was in my chest area I ended up having severing constriction to eating. I was not able to swallow for about 4 weeks. That was most of February and part of March. Eating became a fear. It felt like a knife cutting me. I learned radiation treatment that may cause swallowing difficulties include: Fibrosis, which is scarring or stiffness in the throat, esophagus, or mouth. Swelling or narrowing of the throat or esophagus. This may occur after radiation. Eventually, after 3 different medication and time, this went away and I was able to eat normal again. I lost 15 pounds in the process, but quickly put back half of that since then.
I highly recommend Dr.Anudh Jain, MD with Florida Hospital Cancer Institute. He has a great staff that takes good care of the patients. If ever I have to have radiation again, I will use this center again at the Florida Hospital Waterman in Tavares, FL. Find out more about Dr Jain at: https://www.floridahospitalcancer.com/anudh-jain-md
I just had a PET Scan looking for cancer presence. This was April 7th. The results showed no cancer present. I want to share that this cancer type responds to medication very well, but without chemo, it comes back very aggressive and can spread in days causing death without treatment very quickly, in a matter of about 7 days I was told. So I understand I will remain on chemo therapy indefinitely at this junction. It may change later on, but for now it remains. In addition, I had an MRI done on the brain on the April 5th and it showed presence of either sinus or metastatic cancer presence. We will do a CT Scan or a biopsy to try to confirm what that could be. Finally, my lower lumbar will undergo an MRI to determine why I have excruciating pain there. The process continues and I have to just take care of my body, food and spirit. That I am getting into a new routine.
What am I doing now?
I am home and gave up working permanently on April 7, 2017. I am yet to find a new norm for my days. I worked from the age of 16, so it will take some time to get a new routine. So far I have my days filled with appointments and doctors’ visits. Luckily, my hair is growing back slowly and I hope it grows in for the summer. This medication does not seem to knock my hair. Thank you God for every little thing in my life and my family and friends who are there for me. Bless all of us and keep us safe in your bosom of warmth and safety.
Finally, I am working in my yard and trying to get my spring garden going. With no rain and no sprinkler system, my grass looks dry, but I pray when rain comes, it will spring up again. Until we meet again, keep well and be safe. On a final last minute addition, I was in the hospital for 48 hours being treated for severe nausea. This is Sunday and Monday April 16-17. Still on clear liquid diet and still recovering frm the weakness. Please keep me and my family in your prayers. God Bless us all.