Monday, December 19, 2011

Home for the Holidays

Shelly here, comin' atcha live from the banks of the Maumee River, in lovely northwestern OHIO! My four-person posse flew back yesterday. It feels Terrific to be home. Capital T.

In the last week, several friends who were feeling out of the loop with my health situation asked me for a "status update". So here's a very high level picture, in case you are curious, as well.

This past spring, I received radiation on my lung and liver to clear up the two teeny tiny remaining spots of cancer. We coasted through the year happily, assuming the radiation had worked. In August, we learned it had NOT worked, and the teeny tiny spots had grown and multiplied slightly. So, I began chemo again.

All chemos are different, depending upon the type of cancer (breast vs. colon, for example), and severity (stage I vs. IV). Some run for a few weeks, some for years. My regemin, for colon cancer, is called Folfox. I receive it every other Thursday--two times a month. On those chemo Thursdays, Neil joins me in our little private room, and I sit in a chair and receive IV bags of all sorts of drugs, including steroids, anti-nausea drugs, vitamins, and finally, the two chemo drugs. The combination of all of these is known as "Folfox". It takes hours, but while it's happening, we do email and watch movies, and as strange as it sounds, we have a pretty good time. (Ok, the preceding post would be an exception to this statement! Last time sucked. Win some, lose some.) Getting back to Neil, though, how often do you get to spend 8 hours alone with your loved one, with no distractions? It's almost like a date. Almost.

I then go home, but I have to wear a pack of constantly-infusing chemo for 46 hours. With all the tubes and tape, it sort of looks like I have a bomb strapped to my chest. I keep hoping I'll get to fly on a day like this, just so I can rip open my shirt and freak out the FAA crew. "CODE RED, THIS ONE'S WIRED!"

On Saturday, I get the infuser unhooked, and, free at last, I get to go on my merry way. It's not typically all that "merry" on Saturday and Sunday (nausea, malaise, depression resulting from feeling beat up and beat down. And beat through. And under. And next to), but in 48 hours or so, I bounce back and feel "normal" again. I'm lucky for that.

Two weeks later, I repeat the cycle.

I don't lose my hair, and I'm pretty peppy on the non-chemo days. I dare say, most folks would never suspect anything was "amiss" with me. You really can't tell.

Please forgive the shoddy writing here--I am blasting through this particular post, because I have presents to wrap and cookies to frost. For a better, more interesting description of what it's like to have chemo, check out my blog post from the month of September entitled, "I'm nothing but a fruit fly".

How long will the chemo last? It's hard to say. It's not like, say, strep throat, where you take a course of medication for xx days and can expect xx results. It's more of a moving target. I am planning for it to last at least as long as last time around, which was nine BLESSED months. It could be longer. BUT: I had an early scan a few months ago and the chemo was working beautifully, like last time, and the tumors were shrinking like mad. So, I have every reason to believe the same will happen this time. Knowing that allows me to get through my days in a relatively happy manner.

My next scan is in January. I'm expecting more good news then.

I know this is all pretty heavy stuff, but if it makes you feel any better, we are actually feeling pretty good about things. The chemo's working. Who knows what the future holds? You can't waste your life agonizing over what MAY be, especially when it's simply unknowable. All that's certain is the NOW. And right now, I feel just FINE, we are surrounded by family and friends, and we are pretty damned happy for that. I guess you could call us "blessed", as strange as that might sound. But I do feel that way.

Of course, there's always a little room for improvement.


  1. brilliant! there's no place like home for the holidays, and i'm sure everyone's loving having ou there! all you need now is a button to wear that says "too blessed to be stressed"! I might even get one for you.