I hope you are looking forward to a new year. Many of you are looking back on this last year and thinking it was a pretty good year. I'm not one of those people. I'm ready to get this last year as far behind me as possible.
Chemo #6 went off much like the others. Dr. Yardley seemed pleased with my progress. Nothing was mentioned about my blood counts so I'm assuming they were fine. She talked about her Christmas and how her family all converged on her house and how she was rushed to get home the night before Christmas Eve and how she never gets out of work on time. It made me wonder why we do it the same way year after year. Every year I think I will take more time to visit with people and focus on God more during the season and every year my focus gets lost in buying gifts and cooking and working hard so I can take a day or two off.
I asked her when I could get my port removed. I've heard people keep them for 6 months to years after chemo. I expected her to say 6 months. She said a couple of weeks. I was thrilled! She said as long as I'm recovered from the chemo and get by the point where my immune system is low (7-10 days after chemo) I can have it removed. I can't wait. It's itching and starting to bug me. She also said I would come back to visit her in 3 weeks and at that time they will start me on Tamoxifen, the drug that blocks the estrogen that caused the cancer in the first place. Her office has called Dr. Cooper's office to schedule my port removal. His surgery scheduler was on vacation last week so I should find that out next week.
I went to the chemo room and was greeted by some of my favorite nurses, Kelly and Lindsey. I have pictures to post but can't seem to locate the cord for my camera to download the pictures. I sat in my usual corner chair and got all hooked up. The thought of going back to do it one more time makes me want to throw up. I was given a large IV bag of Benedryl. The next bag was being hooked up when I felt a very sick feeling come over me. I told Kelly I was feeling sick and I stood up. I had to grab Angie's hands to stay steady. I rushed to the bathroom and there, for the 1st time since chemo started, I threw up. Afterward, I felt fine. I guess it was the excitement of it being the last chemo or maybe it was the breakfast I ate. I went on with the rest of the chemo. Several of my family members came to celebrate with me. Momma and Daddy stayed home because it was going to be so crowded but I know they were there in spirit and so thankful it's over for me too. Greta, Jennifer, Angie, Tim, Sloane, Megen, Scott and my friend Carolyn all came to visit. Greta and Jennifer made cookies and snacks and signs that said, "To Celebrate Candy Grissom's last chemo!" The food was excellent and I slept through most of it.
I went back the next day to get my Neulasta shot. I hugged my favorite nurses and even cried with one of them. But it was a thankful cry. Thankful that I never have to go back. I have vowed to never have chemo again. My life will have to depend on it. And even then I'll have to think about it. Chemo is ugly business.
After I got my shot, I drove over 1 block to the doctor's building and saw Cathy, the lady who does sample scans and gets patients ready for radiology. I was taken immediately back to a CT scan machine and asked to take everything off from the waist up. She had me lay in the machine and proceeded to position me in the machine the way I'll have to lay for radiation. She marked on me with some kind of marker. I'm pretty sure it was a Sharpie. She marked me in 3 different places around my waist: left, middle and right. She said they were so I could be lined up in the machine correctly. She then called the doctor in. Dr. Hunt was on vacation so Dr. Gray came in. He marked my right breast in 3 areas. So I have 6 marks on me. Cathy marked over them with 'indelible' ink (I had to look it up; it means cannot be erased). Then she put tape over each mark. She said as I bathe they will eventually come off, but to keep marking over them with a sharpie. She doesn't care what color it is or how big the markings are; I just need to make sure they stay on throughout radiation. She then placed my right arm above my head and took some sample scans. She said Dr. Hunt would look at the scans and be able to make a mold of my arm to lay in during radiation. She said it would take him close to a week to get it made, then I'll come back to test it out with her. After that visit, I can begin radiation immediately.
I will have 35 radiation visits. I asked about having my port removed while on radiation and they said it's not a problem at all. If I have to miss a visit, they will add it to the end of treatment. The important thing is that I get 35 visits in. Each visit should last 15 minutes. It will take me longer to get downtown than for each visit. But I'm not complaining. Radiation should be a breeze compared to chemo.
I cannot tell you how grateful I am that the chemo is over. And I'm anxious to get radiation started and finished as well. Even though it's been a tough year, it has gone by quickly. Thank God. If it had drug out much longer I don't think I would've lasted. I have had it so much easier than some folks. But as I've said all along, it's all relative. What you are going through at the time may seem like nothing compared to what I've gone through, but if it touches you and makes your life hard, then it's hard. Period. I can't wish for your battle and you certainly don't want mine. I read one time that our God-given tests have our names on them. If I thought I had a leg to stand on, I'd have a bone to pick with God about this one having my name on it. As it stands though, I have almost made it through and my determined purpose will be to use it for His glory and to learn to live in His presence. I have finally learned the meaning of Psalm 27:4, "One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life..." It's all I really have. And without it, I'm done.
So, the new year is right before me. There is much to look forward to: new hair, a celebration after radiation is over, a vacation, church camp, and hopefully not nearly as many days in doctor's offices and hospitals. I am looking forward to Spring more than ever before. Fall used to be my favorite time of year, but after this last one, I'm not so sure anymore. It will take awhile for me to make friends with that season again.
Happy New Year and may God bless you all richly. -