Thursday, June 18, 2015

Six Years!

(I started writing this in February...and finished it today...! )
I just re-read my last update, and I had said I would update again soon. *sigh*  I had good intentions of doing so! Oh well, here is an update:
Feb. 6th marked 6 years since the day my tumor was found during a colonoscopy.  I remember that day so well, and all the emotions that went with it. (Go back to the beginning of my blog, if you want to read more about those first few weeks, here.).  Exactly 2 weeks later, on 2/20, I had a Low Anterior Resection (LAR) and had about 18" of my colon and rectum removed. My first surgery, and it was a doozy! Then, as some of you may know, not long after I finished chemo in Jan. of 2010, I found out I had breast cancer, and had to go through surgery,chemo, and radiation all over again. (Start reading about my journey with breast cancer here.) While I occasionally stop to think about all that happened, starting 6 years ago, mostly I am just so happy to be here, cancer-free and living life!
I am happy to say (albeit awkwardly) that I had a final fistula surgery in Nov., and it was repaired and the area healed nicely!  It was totally unexpected.  My surgeon scheduled a surgery for me with her and her partner, who has an ultrasound machine he can use in surgery (I had to have it done at "his" hospital, and my surgeon had to get guest privileges). With the help of the ultrasound they were able to see that it was fixable, and wouldn't make my situation worse if they cut it open.  It did heal slowly, but my surgeon was very happy with the results! And so am I! I had 3 surgeries on that area in 2014, and hopefully I won't have ANY surgeries this year--wouldn't that be wonderful?!

Well, it's now June, and I am happy to say things are still going well. I have more good days than bad, as far as the digestive system goes, and that makes this girl happy!  I had a bad couple of days earlier this week, and was so thankful it is summer time and I didn't have to take a day off work.  Sometimes my system just start moving and doesn't stop!  And that causes a lot of pain too!  Did I eat to many cooked carrots? Was it that small piece of watermelon I had?  The sandwiches I had with 12 grain bread (I'm putting my money on this one), or just my system deciding it wanted to kick things into high gear??   It's really hard to tell.  But, things have done a 180, and I am better.  Got my energy back too (for some reason I get really tired on those bad days--might be psychological from the frustration).
Just as an example of the PTSD that can creep up when least expected, I share something that happened to me today (although VERY minor compared to what some people experience!).  I was going through and old file (6 years old!) of medical receipts and paperwork for an FSA we used to have during my chemo and radiation days.  I started reading the names of some of the prescriptions, and my hands started shaking! Strong antibiotics for C-diff, something for the bladder irritation caused by rads, ambien, percocet, ativan, lots of anti-nausea meds, lovenox syringes, neupogen syringes, etc.  Some I had to look up because I couldn't remember what they were for! I shredded them quickly, but I still felt shaky and nauseated (oh how I remember the pain of rads, and how much I hated giving myself all those shots!).  Most days it's hard to believe all that happened to me, but sometimes it's all too real and seems like yesterday.  Thankfully, if I remember to pray, God calms me down.
You should know by now that I try to let people know some of the things survivors go through.  Because of the great things that have been done in the field of medicine, more and more people are surviving cancer.  But along with that survivorship, comes many late side effects caused by chemo, radiation, and surgery.  Some don't pop up until 15-20 years later. I want everyone to be aware that your family member/close friend/co-worker/whatever that is now cancer free STILL has problems from that cancer.  They can not just move on, get-over it, and act like nothing happened to them.  Please be kind and helpful to survivors.  They still have pain, extreme fatigue, physical limitations, more surgeries to fix problems, etc.  NEVER TELL THEM they need to get back to work, quit faking it, that they are fine now. My heart hurts for the people that are still battling the beast that have heard these things from family members.  Makes me want to slap someone! *steps off soapbox*
In other news, I am enjoying my summer break, getting to spend more time with grandkids, and also taking time to clean and organize a bit.  (Something I'll never be done with!)  Our family continues to grow--Rachel and Ken are in the process of adopting their adorable little girl that they've had as a foster child for the past year, Shonna graduated from college in Dec. and recently started her first  "adult job", and Alyssa and Jaren are doing a wonderful job raising their beautiful daughter. In July we will spend time together as a family in Duluth again, and we all can't wait!  Rich and I will get a few days to ourselves first on the North Shore, then meet everyone in Duluth for a few days.  It's my favorite place, with my favorite man! God continues to bless us, and we are so grateful for all that we have!
God bless!

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