Do you see what that says?
Yep, I'm still NED. 7 months since the last scan and still no cancer. After all the torturous treatment of the past five years, I did the impossible. Erm, I mean, my doctor and chemo nurses did the impossible. To be honest, I just sat there.
And sat there. And sat. And sat some more. Those barcaloungers at chemo are pretty damn comfortable, although embarrassingly, to this day I've never figured out how to get the footrest to open so I can put my legs up and actually lounge. It’s one of those secrets that everybody else knows but me, and now it’s long past time to ask.
“How long have you been coming here?” a nervous new patient asks me, legs stretched out and preparing mentally for her first infusion.
“Five and a half years.” I answer, as surprise and concern crosses her face. I continue, “Hey, do you know how to get the footrest on this chair up?”
Um, nope. Too late.
So I sit.
I sit at home too and have for years, although my IKEA Poang chair is the closest I can get to a barcalounger. I sit in front of the computer, in front of the TV, in a chair to read. I’ve become quite the expert at sitting. Since variety is the spice of life, I sometimes break it up with sleep. Well, truthfully, a lot of the time I sleep; it's more like I'm breaking my sleep up with periods of sitting. There were days upon days when I did not get out of bed, or even wake up really. Most of those periods of unconsciousness happened during the four years I was on chemotherapy, but I confess to doing a lot of sleeping even with the relatively easy antibody therapy I’m currently on. I’m a 12 hour a night girl. And sometimes I still take naps.
This is my second scan that says NED. It is also a very thorough scan, finding every little anomaly, none of which are cancer. There are sentences like this, "There may be subtle/minimal rebound thymic tissue within the anterior mediastinum" which would probably scare a healthy person just getting a scan for funsies, but it just means I'm recovering from chemotherapy. And, said healthy person might be freaked out to read that they have multiple small calcified phleboliths along the pelvic floor, but I am just embarrassed. Damn, I should have taken care of that. As for the "mild chronic degenerative changes of the skeleton with mild spinal scoliosis?" Honey, it just means I'm getting old. Which in my case is a good thing.
On the whole, this PET shows that I am in pretty good shape everywhere, with the minor exception of a partially collapsed lung, (aka alelectasis at the right anteriomedial lung base, most likely benign). It's not caused by cancer, so what what caused it?
It is caused by, perhaps, sleeping too much.
Still, the most important phrase is "no specific evidence of recurrent or metastatic breast cancer" and that, my friends, is like winning the Best Cancer Awards, or BCA.
Of course, after getting results like that, I did a certain amount of
But then, of course, came the
Still, I choose to think that I have gotten a miracle, albeit a secular, clinically-based miracle. Unfortunately, this post-miracle body likes to sit, a lot, and is used to sleeping even more. This body doesn't like to eat very much either and has developed food aversions. This body has never recovered from the chemos and surgeries – it cramps constantly, has shoulder pain, back pain, abdominal pain, bone aches and a few misfires that I won't go into. Before, none of that mattered because I wasn't going to need This Body for long.
But now? Now I now have a choice to make. Even if the worst happened and cancer began regrowing the day after that scan, I'll probably be around at least a year or two. I can continue to be weak, unable to climb a flight of stairs without experiencing heavy breathing and sore thighs, unable to put a suitcase in an overhead bin without the help of a flight attendant probably older than me. I can continue to feel exhausted by standing in line at a store because there is no place to lean against, and I can keep on sleeping 14 hours a day. Alternatively, I can get into shape and try to get myself at least back to where I would have been had I gone about my alternate universe life, where cancer had never struck.
(As opposed to my alternate, alternate universe life where I look like Jennifer Aniston, live in a house that has been featured in Architectural Digest, have money like Jennifer, but of course, still have my own children and don't have any paparazzi snapping my photo every time I leave my spectacular house. Nor would I ever, ever, have to discuss my "craft.").
Whether I get in shape to become strong enough to withstand the next round of chemo, or to ensure I don't fall down in my older years, I won’t know. But it is time.
I can live like a healthy person would, or like a sick person does.
To choose healthy, I have to get off my flattened rear end and move. And, eat. So I have. I found a fitness program for cancer patients. It is designed and implemented by a non-profit called Triumph Fitness, which gives us, for free, several months of personal training in an actual gym. It is a small class of six women, all of whom have had breast cancer, although I am the only metster. We have two trainers who have extra certification in working with cancer patients and who understand our unique needs.
I've had four classes so far, and I’ll share with you in upcoming posts what it is like trying to claw your way back to
I can tell you right now that I have a long, long way to go. I'm way more debilitated than I thought I was. I guess that just means there is nowhere else to go but up.
Please don't forget to sign my petition and pass it along to your friends and family and enemies and bosses and everybody. The petition is asking Komen and the other large cancer charities to give 50% of their donations to research - that's it. For them to listen, I'm going to have to get into the tens of thousands of signatures.
While I'm asking you for stuff, please don't forget to start your shopping at Amazon from the link on my page to the right. I get a percentage of sales and it definitely helps me keep the blog going.