So I finally got my scan results last Friday. Before I begin, I just want to say what a whirlwind this last weekend and week has been! For those who already know the news, thank you so much for your love and support. I could not have done it without you guys!
Well, remember how I have been writing about that the lymph nodes in my neck have been bothering me? Friday I got the phone call from my oncologist that there is definitely cancer activity in those exact lymph nodes, and that I needed to meet with the radiation oncologist that day right away to get the pre-work done for treatment.
Last Friday there will was only a fill-in doctor available the radiation department (my normal radiation doctor was out of town). I tried to pester the fill-in doc for information regarding the seriousness of my cancer, but he didn’t really give me anything I could actually work with. In fact, he was kind of a debbie-downer. I could tell he wanted to pass me off to my real doctors ASAP. My dad was with me with the whole time, so we decided to get the pre-work done for radiation treatment (more scans, a mask for radiation, tests) and be on our way out. I decided I wanted to hear about my cancer from my two oncologists – my primary and my REAL radiation oncologist – face to face.
I saw my Dream Team doctors back to back this last Tuesday (yes!), and even though we are optimistic about blasting away the tumor in my neck, I have the unfortunate news that my cancer has spread. According my PET scans, there is a fairly large size tumor in my lymph nodes in my neck which I have been complaining about; one infected lymph node just below and behind my esophagus (which is fits the pattern for the spreading); and two very small clusters of cancer cells just above my belly button (my oncologist could not even feel these).
The GOOD news is that there are no cancer cells detected in my pelvic region where my cervical tumor was! YES!! I beat that sucker!
I started my radiation treatment on Tuesday and will continue for three weeks. It’s simple: in and out in 15 minutes with VERY little side affects this time!
Here are some questions that I asked my doctors, which I am sure some of you may have as well:
- How do your doctors know that the cancer in your neck is the same cancer as on your cervix? How can it spread like that?? Because of the small traces in my abdomen and the infected lone lymph node by my esophagus, I fit the “spreading pattern” for my specific cervical cancer. I trust my oncologists with this.
- Why not just remove the tumor in your neck with surgery? There are too many veins and arteries in my neck area where the tumor is. Not worth it!! Both of my oncologists have successfully gotten rid of neck tumors by just using radiation. And I don’t even need that much radiation treatment compared to last time.
- What is your radiation plan like? Week days Monday through Friday for 3 weeks, about 15-20 minutes per session. Easy, peasy!
- What are the symptoms for your new radiation treatment? Only a sore throat and some fatigue. NOTHING like when I went through radiation before, thank goodness! No nausea or vomiting either – yes!
- Why are you not doing chemotherapy first? My last few cycles of chemotherapy worked wonders to eliminate the cancer cells in my pelvis, but unfortunately the tumor in my neck was unresponsive to that specific combination of chemotherapy. We know this because the tumor was able to grow through my last chemo treatments. But no worries, there are plenty of chemos to try!
- What happens after you are done with the three weeks of radiation? We will let myself recover from the radiation and move onto the *new* chemotherapy cycles to get the cancer cells in my abdomen eliminated and whatever may be left over from radiation. After that, it will be time for another PET scan to see the progress!
- Does a PET scan show every single cancer cell? No. Although our technology is incredibly advanced, it cannot detect every single minor scopic cancer cell. It CAN catch small clusters and problem areas. I’m happy with that!
- Is spreadable cancer curable? ABSO-FREAKING-LUTLY!!! Both of my amazing oncologists have cured patients before that have had spreading cancer. And, uh hello? I’m like 25 years old with an amazing fighting spirit! Please, I do not want anyone to worry.
- Is there a prognosis for your cancer? Here comes the gut-wrentcher… since my cancer has spread throughout my body, there is a good chance that I would live with this forever, and without a cure. Some oncologists don’t feel comfortable giving their patient’s the “this is how many years you have to live” discuss for many reasons: one reason being, there is just no way of knowing, especially so early on in the spreading! No body knows what’s the pesky cancer is up to, or where it’s going next. Another reason is that the oncologists want to keep their patients positive and hopeful, and just take the spreading scan by scan. These are my oncologists – and I LOVE them for that! On the flip side … I received an opinion from the debbie-downer fill-in doctor who I saw last Friday for my scan results. Remembered how I said I kept pressuring him for information? He asked if I wanted to know his honest opinion, and I desperately said “yes” (maybe that was an accident). “Hmmmmm …” He responded quietly, “2 years?” He also said that “it” is not curable. Well, how’s that for a Friday afternoon! After further discussing this opinion with my regular docs, they assured me that we just have to watch the scans, and there’s no way that they personally could be an expiration date on me. Ha!
So, what is my personal plan, you may ask? Well I’m going to get ready to fight like hell! This cancer has declared a war, and I am determined bring on the fight of my life! I am getting my body the strongest it has ever been; I am filling my body with only green eating; cutting all CRAP - no sugar, no bad carbs, no hormones, no chemicals. I’m giving my body the absolutely best it needs from the inside and out!
Mentally, I am taking everything day by day and focusing on ONLY positive. I will write again soon with more of my goals, hopes and dreams while living with cancer. Right now I wanted to get the news out there for everyone to hear.
I am in the process of having an actual cancer support website made that will have a link to this blog.
And here is also my Caringbridge.com site I have started as well:
I’m so sorry if I didn’t have a chance to call some of my friends and family personally with the news, and that some of you had to find out on this blog. As you can imagine, this is a crazy time for me and my family right now. Thank you again for all your love, support, well wishes and positives thoughts.
Just a closing thought inspired by one of my cancer Heroes and Gururs Kris Carr: So, I have to live with cancer. So WHAT?!? I mean, everyone has to live with something. Right? No matter if you are sick or perfectly healthy, this thing called ‘life’ is still terminal, people. Us cancer folks are just more aware of it. And I am not letting this pesky disease break my spirit or my soul. Every day I wake up and I am a survivor. Everyday is mine for the taking. Watch me shine through cancer!!!
Laughs, light and love. xoxo -Kathy