Thursday, October 8, 2009

Follow Up

. . . ending on a positive note!

After my surgery and throughout the past 10 months, I would regularly meet with my Oncologist and, although he would always tell me that I looked great [considering what I'd been through], he would consistently relate the depressing statistics of this horrible disease. I would long for some hope; something to let me know that there just might be a chance that I could end up in the 20% group who survive this cancer. I understood that he could never obligate himself to predicting a positive outcome...but how hard would it have been to say that "yes, there is always a chance you could beat it."?! During one visit, he even went so far as to tell me that, in the end, I'll readily accept death. Eeeeeekkk!! At the end of each visit, I'd head home with a heavy cloud over my head. It was difficult to thwart the desire to just curl up on my bed in morbid depression, gazing out my bedroom window at the breeze blowing the graceful trees....thinking that there was no doubt I'd be leaving this beautiful life soon. My family was wonderful in helping me to gain back my positive attitude. It normally took about 3 days. But there was always that lingering death sentence echoing in the halls of my mind.

With the completion of my treatments, I was due to see my Oncologist for a follow up this week. Knowing that this would be the last time I'd see him (or any other doctor) for quite some time, I didn't want to leave with that heavy, dark cloud again. I didn't want to go home in depression and live the rest of my remaining life never able to plan ahead, always hurried to finish a project for fear it would never get done, looking at my son and knowing I'd never meet his bride or see his children...and trying to accept the idea of death......I just didn't want to live like that! I was determined to tell my Oncologist that I wanted (desperately!) to end this visit on a positive note....and I would tell him why it was so necessary. Sometimes, doctors (brilliant as they may be) don't realize that their bedside manner just plain sucks!

On Tuesday, this week, I visited with my Oncologist and it was very different than anything I'd experienced. He read the results of my blood work and told me he was delighted at how good they were. He shared with me that I'd done extremely well through the treatments over the past several months. He gave me the impression that most pancreatic cancer patients don't make it through the treatments without having the cancer come back. I was already an exception. For that, he said, he held more hope for me than normal. He shared with me about an 80 year old patient who was also at a Stage 3, had been through the same surgery and treatments as I and who is already 3 years in remission. All of this...every bit of it!...was fabulous to hear! I left there with wings on my feet, ready to take flight and LIVE!
I can now feel that if I spend money on some new clothes, it won't be money wasted. I can get a cute hair cut to make the short re-growth (from the loss of hair due to chemo) match up more to the long strands that I didn't lose. (Yes, there truly IS a strong resemblence to Bill the Cat!). I can now buy new prescription glasses so I can SEE!! The medications over the past year have caused my vision to weaken horribly. I have hope that I will be able to see my son get married and to be the wonderful Dad I've always known he'd be. And I'm so very pleased that my family has this wonderful news so that they no longer have this stress in their lives.

What's Next:

I'm looking forward to this horrible head-to-toe itching to go away! It's an allergic reaction to the Xeloda chemo pills I had to take. The medication they gave me to eliminate the itching (Lord, I hate medications with a passion!) makes me very sleepy but gets rid of the itching for about 4 days..then it comes back. The doctor said that eventually, the itching will stop. I hope so!

Also, I'll be meeting with my Oncology Surgeon on November 5th to discuss fixing the incisional hernia that developed after the surgical site healed. It's uncomfortable. Sometimes, it feels like I'm carrying my stomach outside of my abdomen. Ugh!

And then...I'll get a CT scan in January to see how things are going.

It's all good :-) I appreciate all the emails, support and prayers so much! Please keep them coming...they are obviously working!

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