Today was a banner day; I finished chemotherapy and I finished radiation therapy. It’s been one hell of a ride, and it’s not really over yet, but it feels wonderful to have this behind me.
- I need about a month to recover from my treatments.
My throat is so sore and swollen that even swallowing water is a chore. I can talk in short bursts, but extended conversation is beyond me at the moment. I need about 4 weeks to recover from chemotherapy. Right about the last week of January my blood counts will plummet and I’ll be at high risk for infection. It takes about 2 weeks to get back to normal after that.
- I need to continue trying to regain my strength and weight.
I weigh 165-pounds at the moment. I think I’ll shoot for an ideal 175-180-pounds. That won’t happen easily; since I had chemo today it will be a week or two before I’ll start really eating again (if you can call tube feeding eating). I can expect to drop weight as a result of this chemo – I wouldn’t be surprised if I hit 155-pounds.
Also, my strength is gone. I have not only lost most of my fat, I have lost a lot of muscle. So, in a couple of weeks I need to start light exercise. This will be good in so many way – it will build myendurance, help me heal, build my strength, and increase my appetite. I am looking forward to it. I’ll start with walking and very light resistance training I think. I need to do some research and fortunately I have a physical terrorist in the family who can point me in the right direction.
- In 10 weeks I go in for more scans
This is where we find out if it was all worth it or not. I will get full-body PET scans to see if any cancer is visible. I feel like I got it all with this round of treatment, and am very hopeful. This process will be repeated every90 days for the first year and then go to every 180 days. The goal is to be cancer-free for 5 years, upon which time they can declare me “cured.”
There’s no silver bullet herethat will put the unease to rest. PET scans have a resolution limit so microscopic cancer cells won’t show in the scan – hence the reason to be checked every 90 days. As much as I would like to walk away and say “I’m done” I am in this for life. I need to be ever-vigilant going forward.
- I return to work
Based on where I am today I feel that mid-February will be my return to work date. I can’t tell you how much I am looking forward to that day.
- I live my life
I’ve tried very hard through these treatments to not stop living. I have been bed-ridden, hospitalized, isolated, and lonely; but I have used the time to examine myself, what I want from life, where I want to go, grow closer to my family, and learn to love more truly and more deeply. I haven’t been idle – but I an aching to return to a more normal life where I can go to work, cook dinners, EAT dinners, go surfing, take my telescope out to see the stars, etc.