My Cancer Journey 5–28

Just wanted to let all of you who read this know that I had my last PET CT scan on Monday after my 6 chemo treatments were finished on April 16 and the new scan was clear for cancer. I will have to keep going to the cancer center for follow up labs and scans and Dr. appts every three months for a few years. They won’t call me cancer free until I have been cancer free for 5 years. This is very good news. I have no more cancer in my body.

After about the third chemo infusion, I really began to lose energy and clarity. Chemo brain kicked in and got worse over time. Fatigue kicked in and got worse and worse and left me just so tired of being tired all the time. This fatigue is still with me and will be for a while. The oncologist told me that for some people it can take a year for the chemo drugs to clear out of the system. I did not know that.

I have been depressed, withdrawn, and feeling low self esteem beside the low energy. The oncologist said that it is not unusual for a patient going through chemo — especially in isolation due to covid — to feel this way. And since chemo exacerbates this low energy blah kind of feeling, this may be with me for a while. The oncologist is referring me to the psychiatrist so hopefully I can get into some kind of therapy for the depression. That’s the only way I know to tackle it. But finally acknowledging to myself recently that I was back being depressed and withdrawn was a huge first step. I tend to be one of these suffer in silence kind of people. That is not good when dealing with depression since it just gets worse. I have had some form of clinical depression for most of my life and have been on an antidepressant for some 40 years or so. But the cancer and chemo just made it worse and I felt like I was falling into a deep hole and the longer I was in the chemo the darker it got down there.

The other side effect I am still dealing with is the neuropathy of my left foot. My foot is numb and painful at the same time and I am not steady on my feet. I use a cane for walking and but I need to rest often after just a few steps. I am a long way away from my old hiking days. The neurapthy seems to be getting worse not better but it’s hard to tell. I am doing both PT and acupuncture in addition to the drug the doctor gave me — Lyrica.

So cancer may be gone but it is kind of still with me as I deal with these aftershocks.

This will likely be my last post about my cancer. This blog served me very well as a place to go process all the feelings I was going through as an aggressive cancer seemed to be racing through my body. I talked about feeling like I was in a Sprint and I gave it all I had until I just ran out of energy sometime between infusion #3 or infusion #4. By the time I go to infusion #6, I had nothing left. And as I got further and further into chemo, my thinking got more and more muddled. My writing suffered and I would lose trains of thought and go off on tangents that may or may not have made any sense. I got into some personal things that were better dealt with in other places. Not that looking inside and finding what I found wasn’t a good thing because it was, but dealing with my guilt and shame (which was something I had long thought I had finished with after much work on it in earlier decades), is better done by myself rather than in a public forum like this. Blogs are for interesting stories, engaging reads, entertainment. I think my blog went off the rails somewhere along the line in my chemo brain fog. I was grasping at straws at the end there as I sought to understand what I was doing, what I was saying or even what to write about. I started to write about something that made me happy and sped off to something that made me feel guilty and sad in a flash. It just got too labored and well I was just too tired to try to write every day so I just let it go. But the beginning of the blog while raw and honest, helped me to navigate what for me was the most serious and scary a diagnosis as I have ever gotten in my life. And this was the beginning of the hardest fight I have ever had to fight.

There are some of you here among my “followers” that have been with me through thick and thin so this is a news update for you. Others I don’t know but I feel your support and caring as well. I just want to thank you all for your prayers, your translations and just your thoughts and support. It’s been a tough year but I am finally and officially on the mend. Thank you so much for listening to my fears, my rants, my process, and even some good music along the way. Here’s one a dear friend sent me this morning. She said, “It inspired me to hope that your fatigue is giving way to actual rest.” I don’t think I have ever sung this but it’s lovely. And this version was conducted by the composer and was recorded at Georgia State University right here in Atlanta.

And just for fun once again….