|This was taken by dad mere minutes after hearing the good news!|
Well, I think most of you know by now, I am officially considered cancer-free!! And oh boy, what a road we've taken to get here--almost two years of it! It has been a 10 days since I found out that my stem-cell transplant might not have worked...they found "suspicious nodes" lighting up. This past 10 days has been one wild ride I tell you! I have faced my own mortality directly in the face and had to sit with that discomfort until it became comfortable. I was torn in a million pieces most of the time, and spent much of it trying to distract myself. And you out there, you reading, you sending me love, you, my friends and family, have helped keep me alive and going during this crazy time. And then I have you to rejoice with when we hear good news like we heard yesterday. It feels amazing. Better than amazing. Like I truly have been reborn.
We were surprised to actually get the results yesterday. I already had a pre-arranged appointment with my bone marrow doc scheduled for yesterday to go over the results of my 100 days post test. So, with surgery Monday, we didn't think that the results of the biopsy would be back in time for the appointment. Apparently my bone marrow doc has pull with the pathologist at the hospital and not only did the pathologist have time to read the biopsy, he had time to sit down with my doc and the PA and go over the slides in detail and really make sure/explain that the biopsy showed no signs of cancer. Now, there indeed was a mass that lit up, and one that the doc took out, but what we've found is that it is an enlarged thymus gland. The thymus gland is important for your immune system, but apparently atrophies in all humans by about the age of 15. It has happened in some cases of Hodgkins after chemo that the thymus gland is re-ignited and I guess that is what happened to me! My immune system was raring to go!!
This whole week has been surreal. We've received bad news after bad news for so long that we all went into this appointment somber and bracing ourselves for what we could possibly hear again. Fact is, if this came back with a positive biopsy, the disease is considered incurable, because of the short duration on relapse, and I enter into a world of clinical trials and unknowns. This is hard news to swallow. And it does happen to people.
So you can imagine the emotion in the room when my PA, the most wonderful PA ever, didn't even bother with the niceties and got immediately down to the real info....that I had a PET last week, that it showed suspicious nodes, that I had a biopsy, and that the biopsy showed NO CANCER!!! Unbelievable. There were tears, I lost it of course. Even the PA was tearing up. There aren't words to describe the emotions. LOVE LOVE LOVE was the biggest, and I was there with mom, dad and Michael, and we FELT it. Deeply, strongly.
The doctor comes in, and of course squelches a bit of our happiness, but even that was hard for him to do. He said that the surgeon only got 2/3 of the mass...so there could still be cancer there. But there was a 95% chance that that isn't so. I also mentioned to him that really we can't exhale completely for 5 years, and he said true, but if I relapse again year 2-5 I have a much greater chance of cure than if I did now.
So we came back to our home...and mom, dad, Michael and I sat on our porch, like we did just over a week ago. Except this time, instead of having the breath knocked out of us depressed, we were giddy, laughing, crying, loving, and letting the world know that I am cancer-free!!! And then a storm rolled in and we basked in the loveliness that is the summer thunderstorm. Yes, let it rain, let it wash away your fears.
I had bought tickets over a month ago to see Chris Isaak at Chastain Park last night. I had forgotten I had done so when all this craziness was swelling around us. And then on Tuesday I get an e-mail event reminder. I knew that if I hadn't gotten the results we were wanting, we probably wouldn't have gone. I am still recovering from surgery too. But, with this good news, we couldn't help but pack a picnic, put on some rain gear and head to the park, one of our favorite places to go. (for those of you who don't know I absolutely ADORE summer. LOVE it. It is the happiest time of year for me.) So we got to go out, smile, laugh, love and enjoy living another summer night together. It was incredibly romantic. The best part of the night was when he sang Elvis's "I can't help falling in love with you". It was raining, we were cuddled under the umbrella, singing to each other. It was so so nice. We exhaled...
So my biggest love to you all. Thank you for your outpouring of love and sharing this time with us. I do plan to respond to you all on FB, but for now I am going to pack up and head TO WORK! First time in 4 months. I also am sending buckets of love to my dear sister Dawn who is finishing up her own struggles. Dawn, you are going to ROCK it!!! And will be done in time to return to your beautiful kids at school. We are going to be rocking on a porch swing 50 years from now together talking about the good ole days!!