My journey - battling lymphoma

Recently I celebrated my 46th birthday. I love celebrating birthdays! Then I participated as a co-captain for our local "Quabog" Relay For Life and the Pack 57 Rocks! Cub Scout Team. This was the time frame that I had discovered an uneasiness in my stomach and growth in my spleen and stomach. After weeks of monitoring, my husband Steve took me to the doctor who felt the lumps and ordered a CT scan. The CT scan showed a massive area, my spleen enlarged to twice its size and an additional growth lower in my stomach. Next was the localized CT guided biopsy and subsequent PET scan. The biopsy showed positive for lymphoma and most likely Diffuse Large B-cell Lymphoma.

This is my online journal sharing my experience through battling this cancer that has abruptly entered my life for no apparent reason. The story is documented here if you want to start from the beginning, you can check the archives on the side bar.

As a top competitive master athlete this year winning my age group at the Marine Corps Marathon and placing 3rd in the New England Trail Running Championship I have been truly excited with my results of late and am a truly driven athlete. Driven by goals.... my goal right now.... to beat this "thing"!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

RCHOP #6 - Enduring it till the end!

I wanted to label this "My last and final treatment cycle" or "The Light at the end of the Tunnel" or "The Finish Line that I have been waiting for..." or "it's OVER now"!  But the weirdness of it all surrounds me, with the accumulation of all the chemo inside of me, each round has been more difficult to take, and it isn't all about the treatment days, but the endurance of all the symptoms that follow.  I have some cancer survivor friends that have been prepping me for all of this, but I really just keep my eye on the pie, the last treatment, the upcoming hopefully CLEAN PET scan and my hair growing back, my stamina and my drive returning and more of that old "Nancy" that I miss.

I anticipated the last treatment as one that would be tough and really didn't want a self fullfilling prophecy, but knew it wouldn't be easy.  RCHOP 5 was tough enough, but this one - I just had a feeling.  I have been pushing myself to work as much as possible, keeping up on the important stuff and proud to be doing all that I can in this state of healing.  This week I decided I really need to get myself back on track and start the healing process.


We had our routine down as I said in RCHOP 5 and as usual we were a little late getting there for our chat with the Doc and intake nurse.  I decided to get on the scale backwards and not look at the number, knowing all that Halloween candy weight wouldn't make me happy.  :)  We joked and the nurse smiles as she asks me her usual "So - how are you feeling"?   I take the chance to tell her all my aches and pains and falls and stuff that she really probably doesn't need to know, but it seems like a great time to list them off.  :)
1. My chest is still aching from a fall in the trails before the 5K I ran on Saturday.
2. My toes are still black and blue and my right toe nail may fall off - still issues from the Chi Marathon
3. I have the sniffles - something Schuyler must have brought home
4. Feeling bloated and a little exhausted
But otherwise GREAT!  :)  She laughs and takes notes, probably thinking  I am crazy.  :)

The doc comes in and asks the same question and I get to tell him the fun story of how I body slammed the ground after tripping in the trail, probably because I can't feel my toes and pick up my feet as well as I used to? (OR at least that can be my excuse for now)  -- My friend said that if it doesn't get better I probably should get it checked out - so I told her that I was seeing the Doc and maybe he give me a 2 for 1 on the next check up.  He laughs.... and smiles...  and is so excited to share that all my test results are normal and good.  No anemia, blood levels are good and everything is in order!  Yay!  We really think that the exercise and good healthy food, prayers and healing surroundings really pay off and are so happy.  So after a bunch of ski talk, gear talk and getting excited for winter, we head to the CHAIR.  :)
Photo of Steve, me & Doc Mullally  (actually taken after the "high Five finish" as we were getting ready to leave.

That familiar chair (and there is an extra one for Steve) - oh so comfy with its pillow and blanket waiting (I know that I am napping later, so this is all good).  I load up my side tables with my ITouch, IPad and Mac -- get ready to do some Farming and then settle in for my nap. Those of you that don't follow me on Facebook, Farming has been my mindless distraction to get me through some of this and I must say I have an incredible Farm and Winery too!
 :)  Love the photo below --- with my new Smartwool boot/slippers.  :)

My inspirational jacket of the day was my Chicago Marathon 2008 jacket which reminded me of the HEAT wave I endured and still ran a 3:26 marathon (even though I truly complained at the end - hoping to run a 3:10 that day!) Steve still remembers me blaming him that I didn't get enough training in that marathon -- until we found out that they cancelled the race and asked all the runners to walk back after a certain point.  Crazy marathon experience that was!  We had our down jackets that morning as it was in the 40's at home when we left the house.  It was nice to have my down jacket with me - kind of like having a sleeping bag - definitely a comforting feeling.  Love my Marmot down jacket!

 The cheery nurse comes over to "stick" an d"juice" me and I get to meet the new girl too -- a long time nurse now in Oncology (when she got to see my blog she was a little stunned with it all - made me feel like the Wonder Woman that I am) --- but I am strong, I endured this whole thing, running the whole way.  :)  Once loaded up the Benedryl drip started and I was out --- They RCHO the chemo routine inside of me and I slept through most all of it.  Woke up around 12:30 starving!  We got 2 sandwiches at the Roadhouse and I ate that second one for lunch.  Yummy.

The end of the session I got some photos to share as I love to include photos with these posts.  Got one with the Doc this time.  He has been so amazing.  We feel so blessed to have found him and this office of amazing caregivers.  A comforting, relaxing, healing place to be treated.  I introduced myself to the other patient that was there and talked to her a little before leaving and wished her luck with her treatments.  Then to the back where the nurses mix the drugs -- with the kitchen in the back too.  "The Control Center" :)  It's like the backroom  or waitress station where it all happens.  :)  They are the greatest too.  The one nurse gives me a hug as I shared the print out of the RCHOP 5 post where I featured her photo -- She says "You have endured this like no one else - we are so proud of you" --- tears welled up in my eyes.  Who knew I would be sad saying goodbye?  I can't say enough about how great they were all to me at that office and how comforting it was to know I was getting rid of this cancer in my body --- the strongest way I know how.

We said goodbye, knowing we would be back the next day and later again to get checked more, but this time - I know that I won't be getting that "poison" in my body and it is going to be all about a healthier me in the future.  Cancer Free Me

SO the big Shot that was on Tuesday - used to give me chills and pain is now under control with Aleve and rest.
The Prednisone is totally no fun - but I know it is only 5 days of craziness, mood swings, retaining water, a little nausea, heartburn, etc...  But when this week is done --- it's done.  My hair is even starting to grow back a little and that has truly put a smile on my face.

Cheers to all of you and your sweet notes on facebook and daily mile and comments here on the blog.  I really appreciate all of your loving support and prayers.  Like I said - we are truly blessed to have such an incredible support group all across the country.  Thank you!    Please leave a comment if you stop by!  I love getting notes and comments here are read and posted!

2 comments:

Jess said...

I know I say this every time I stop by, but you TRULY are amazing Nancy. Such determination, such strength, such an inspiration.

And yes, the boots/slippers rock!

Judi said...

Nancy - Thanks so much for sharing your experience. I have read every entry. Keep up the fight - you are amazing!
Judi Rogozenski
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