In My Time of Dreaming

Even in our waking hours we are always dreaming

Post treatment

July 23 2013. My last day of treatment, radiation specifically. This morning I was overjoyed. No more chemo, no more lumbar punctures, no more pills. Just time for healing. Time and healing that I need desperately in so many different ways.

I got a wonderful card from the staff at the radiation treatment center. One of the technicians wrote, “enjoy everyday,” and it really resonated in me. Something I thought about all day today.

The day before I went to see my oncologist for a check up. She told me I was officially in remission, it didn’t really hit me until today. My oncologist and my nurses there are amazing people, who really care for their patients. They gave me hugs and congratulated me when I left and I could see and feel the happiness in their eyes. I will never forget them or that moment.

While at the oncologist I saw some friends whom I went through treatment with. They had started before me, but I managed to finish my treatment before them. We talked and I told them about my progress. I could tell they were happy for me but at the same time, I could see in their eyes the desperate longing to be done as well. I felt very guilty for being done, for being healthy. I wish there were something I could do for them. I can only imagine that it’s like going to war and having the good fortune of being sent home, while your buddies are still fighting the good fight.

Even though we all went through similar hardships I still didn’t know what to say. Our cancers are different, the way our bodies handle the medication is different. You can’t just tell someone that they’ll be ok. All you can do is pray and have faith that things will be alright. Fortunately or unfortunately things will be as they should and are meant to be.

I should be celebrating, I should enjoy everyday, I am thankful and I am blessed, but somehow I just feel lucky.

Uncharted

I completed my last cycle of chemo a few weeks ago. Next week I’ll start radiation. I can’t begin to tell you how hard it was on me, physically and emotionally. I had to be hospitalized five times through the course of my chemo. There were days I would pray so hard and cry out to god to carry me through this. There were days when I was so thankful to be alive, no matter how much pain I was in.

Now I begin the next phase of my treatment. I know it won’t be as rough, but I feel as though it puts me further away from when I can start to actually heal.

Cycle 1 Day 1

Back at the doctors today. Yesterday I had my chemo cherry popped. It wasn’t quite like what I had expected, but I guess it never is when one pops their cherry. I imagined something like the scene in the movie 50/50 with Joseph Gordon Levitt, where I would just be sitting in a room in a recliner hooked up to my machine with a bunch of other cancer patients. In reality I get my own private room with bed, recliner, t.v., and WiFi.

Yesterday was exhausting, but let me catch you up on the previous events… Last Friday I had my Groshong catheter put in. It’s a line that is put into your chest and access your heart directly via the superior vena cava. This allows your health care physician to draw blood and administer medication very easily. It’s actually quite amazing. As much as I don’t enjoy going under the knife, given the amount of times I will be in here, I don’t like the idea of having my veins beat up like a heroin junkie. Watching the nurse draw blood from the groshong in fascinating. She just hooks up a vacuumed vial or syringe and the blood just flows out, I’m like a vampire’s slurpee machine. I’ll have these tubes sticking out of my chest for the remainder of my chemo treatment.

My first day I started off on the drug Rituxan. This was supposed to be a six hour session. I knocked it out in four. Apparently my body was very receptive to the medication, so what normally takes a long time to administer they were able to up the dosage and get me on my way. I slept for the majority of the session, while my friend Dave looked after me.

After the treatment was over I was completely exhausted. It wasn’t the same kind of tiredness you get from having an awesome workout at the gym, but more like the kind of exhaustion you get when you’ve been out all night drinking or on all sorts of drugs when your mind is a little fuzzy and your body feels completely used.

After some food at Wegman’s,and a lot of water, I went home slept a few hours, had more food, and felt much better.

fight

Some days my morale is better than others, but I fully intend on kicking this cancer’s ass. I get my groshong catheter on Friday and once I start my chemo Monday it’s on!

heart

Sometimes I’m not sure that I can do this.

Comfort, faith, material things.

When my mom was first diagnosed with her cancer, she made a pilgrimage to Lourdes in France. When she came home she brought me a necklace from there. It was a cross with the Alpha and Omega symbols on it and the symbol of Christianity in between them. On the underside was the famous image of the Virgin Mary.

I don’t own a lot of jewelery and none of it is expensive, but this cross was priceless to me. It was one of the few things, if not only thing that meant anything to me that my mom gave me. After she died I would always wear it when I was feeling sad, or going through a difficult time. It served as a reminder to me to always keep faith and it made me feel like my mom was with me and kept me close to her.

In 2009 my place was broken into, and it was taken from me. My computer was still there, my guitars, camera, and a lot of other more valuable items remained. Apparently the thieves were only looking for jewelery. I feel like I need it now more than ever.

Things to come

When I started writing this blog I had a very different idea of the entries that I would chronicle. I met with my oncologist January 2, 2013, and have been diagnosed with stage 2 Burkitt’s Lymphoma. Although very treatable, it’s a highly aggressive cancer that will require intensive chemotherapy (4-8 months).  I have “Chemo Class” tomorrow and this Friday I have minor surgery to have my groshong catheter put in my chest.

My friends and family have been very supportive, and I feel very blessed to have them. A good friend of mine flew in from Hong Kong Christmas week (week after my surgery) to come visit me. Although I didn’t quite have the energy to do too much, it was great having him around. I’m really not looking forward to the months ahead of me. I pray that it won’t be so bad. I keep thinking and asking god the significance of this illness that I have to go through. In every obstacle or challenge in life there is a lesson to be learned. One that helps you grow and makes you stronger, one that instigates change for better or for worse.

Recovery post surgery

So far my road to treatment has not been an easy one. To start, it took them forever to properly diagnose me. Friday I went in for surgery and the operation seemed to go OK.

However, I’ve been way to sore for the past couple of days and the area where the surgical site is has gotten increasingly redder and has spread. I notified the on-call doctor yesterday that it didn’t feel or look right. She pretty much blew me off. I called her again this evening and now I have an appointment for them to look at me tomorrow.

Really, what is wrong with these people? I don’t understand why they do not listen to their patients. Before I was initially diagnosed with Cancer these doctors assumed the best case scenario and treated for that, without running a variety of tests ruling out all possibilities. That’s basic problem solving 101. I am frustrated, and upset. I know I have a hard road ahead and I feel like this is a mere shadow of things to come.

Happy Holidays, blessings amongst misfortunes.

On Thursday December 6, 2012 I went in for a sonogram and fine needle aspiration biopsy. They drew two samples from the lymph-nodes on the right side of my neck. The pathologist present told me right then and there that I had Lymphoma. 

Fast forward to the present. I met my Oncologist yesterday and she seemed really smart and nice. I think I am in good hands and am hopeful. Tomorrow I have my PET Scan and on Friday I go into surgery for another biopsy. Everything that has happened so slowly seems to be moving so fast now.

I am grateful for all the support my friends and family have been giving me. Despite all that has happened I do feel quite blessed. I’ll try and write more about my thoughts and feeling but that’s all for now.

Prayers for Rain

I’ve been having these odd health issues lately. About a month ago I was experiencing these severe to moderate headaches and pain searing down the right side of my neck. It was constant, very localized and last for a solid week. One night it hurt so badly it woke me from my sleep. I went to the doctor and all they gave me were muscle relaxers.

Not knowing any better, and not getting any help from the licensed doctors I went to see a Chiropractor.  Perhaps it was a pinched nerve? At this point, they did nothing for me either except continue to take my money for the next month. I stopped seeing them. 

For the past week, I’ve had this mysterious lump on the same side of my neck. It was really sore and painful, but now has become less sensitive. Perhaps it has decided to take roots, and settle in. I’ve been on Antibiotics for five days now and it has only gone down a little. 72 hours was what the doctor said. Well it’s been more than that and not much change. Tomorrow I will call them and have a sonogram done.

I’m not worried, just annoyed. It’s either something or nothing. Either way, I could really care less.