It's that time of year when as a nation we collectively count our blessings. For me, that has become a daily practice. There are not enough synonyms in the OED to capture how grateful I am. I am humbled by the efforts of so many people: my oncologists, surgeons, infusion nurses, wellness staff, and Avastin researchers. I am grateful to all of you for every day. THANK YOU! And a thousand thanks to my devoted Husby Bruce, parents, and friends who continue to shower me with love and support.
For the past few months its been nice to forget what brought us together on my little blog and pretend it's just a travel journal. But Porlock lurks in the shadows and it is time to get real with a medical update. My CA125 marker began inching up just 3 months after chemo. This was not unexpected; the second series of chemo is often less effective because the cancer cells adapt to the drugs. The good news: Avastin is holding the tumor growth to a minimum, averaging a 2 point increase every 3 weeks. Current result- 22. Projecting forward, I will likely cross the "remission to recurrence" threshold of 35 this spring. When that happens I will have a PET scan and we will initiate another battle plan. That is a challenge for another day -- for now, I feel pretty darn good. Dr. Sekhon is pleased with my blood work. I don't have elevated protein in my urine and my blood pressure is only up a bit, two signs my body is struggling to cope with the Avastin. It is the because of the severity of these side effects that Avastin was initially approved for only a one year course. I'm in month 13 and doing very well -- that is worthy of celebrating.
It's hard to grasp the long slow arc of this battle. I think it would be easier to understand if I said, "I'm cured" or "I've got 6 months." The gray area in between is confusing and frustrating; I get that. But to be as clear as I can ... new treatments are giving longer periods of "disease-free progression," but the unfortunate reality is there are currently no curative treatments. I will continue forging a path forward that balances hope with reality.
Things that are helpful...
1. Get a flu shot! Protect yourself, the vulnerable young and old, and all my fellow cancer warriors with low immunity.
2. Consider a donation to Organic Soup Kitchen. Now that flu season is back I have started up soup deliveries again. The soup feels extra nourishing when I know it was a gift! And it also supports those who are truly needy.
3. Last, I wanted to revisit the "How are you" blog post. As I near the three year anniversary of fighting, I am really burned out on discussing cancer. The "how are you" question is so detrimental. I really don't know what kind of an answer is expected. Should I rattle off my latest urine protein results? Do you really want to talk about my uterus? There are times when I feel like my disease is entertainment for some acquaintance who clearly doesn't have enough drama in their life. Last week I even walked out of a CSquared meditation class when the instructor asked us all to introduce ourselves and talk about our "cancer journeys." I don't want to tell my story, again. I don't want to hear about your cancer story, either. I don't want to be defined by this. It really feels like every minute I think about cancer is a minute of my life lost. I have too much to do and too little time to get it all done. So for the next few months I will focus on my goals and we will continue to live large!
Enjoy today and love one another, MK