I just had my first oncology appointment since my last chemo on June 12th. It was great to see my doctors, and I was feeling good heading in to the appointment. I think my expectations were a little high, in that, I really thought that my blood cells would be within (somewhat) normal limits by now, or at the very least….doubled….maybe even tripled!
The good news is that my physical exam went well. Even though I’ve been short of breath lately, and have had some minor chest pains, Dr. C didn’t hear anything concerning in my lungs. Additionally, my spleen and liver still felt normal size (in that she couldn’t feel them at all. Please note, that if at any point you can actually FEEL your spleen or liver protruding from your abdomen….sorry to say, that is NOT NORMAL, nor is it GOOD. Just FYI.). She didn’t seem all too concerned about my shortness of breath, as she knows that I’m pretty ambitious when it comes to working out, and it seems that this may be a fairly common side effect post chemo.
The bad news is that my blood test results were rather on the fence. My red blood cells have nearly tripled, while my white blood cells have increased, but only ever so slightly. I’m still only at 1.1 WBC count. That’s 1,100 white blood cells, when a normal reading should bebetween 4,500-10,000 white blood cells per microliter. LOL. I have to laugh because its just kind of funny. I just always think to myself, “uggh. seriously, clark?!” Apparently, my bone marrow only wants to produce red cells. Which don’t get me wrong…is GREAT, because that means I (hopefully) won’t be needing a transfusion any time soon! However, I guess we will just have to wait to see what pans out with my white cells. The bottom line is that it is concerning.
Dr. C has vacation scheduled for August, which was when my PET scan was supposed to happen, so she decided to move it up to the 29th of this month. 2.5 weeks. I will have my results and meet with her on the 31st. D day!
Now I know Dr. C well enough by now to know that when she comes in, reads my reports of my current symptoms and lab work, then sits down and gives me the “sympathy eyes” (as I like to call them)….something isn’t quite right. I have actually told her that if I have good news coming, PLEASE don’t sit down!!! That way, I’ll have a heads up as to which direction the conversation is going to head! Well….she sat down. She was unhappy with the fact that I am continuing to have night sweats (combined with my still low white cells, I think). She asked me if they (the night sweats) were less than what I was having prior to my diagnosis, and I told her yes, and suggested that they must be due to menopause, as I still don’t know when or if I will have a period again (that last statement was JUST for any men reading this blog. ya you’re welcome.). BUT……that wasn’t entirely true. I think I just didn’t want to see more disappointment on her face, but the fact is…they are pretty much the same. To the point where nightly, I have to wake up, change my clothes and change my pillow case. Again, I know Dr. C. She always errs on the side of caution, and is rather conservative in her suggestions and assessments. That being said: Although she did not clear me for work (8 hrs a day breathing shared forced air=not a good idea when I’m still in the high risk category of blood cells), she DID tell me that I could go to restaurants, bars, movies, the mall etc….so long as I dont share anyone’s food or glass, and wash my hands frequently, since they would only be short trips; a few hours at a time. She also told me that I should really go out and enjoy these next 2.5 weeks as best I can. In the back of my mind, I knew what she was suggesting, but I refuse to believe it until I hear the results read on the 31st.
And so here we are! Count down til D day. In a way I’m happy that the scan was moved up, but it doesn’t leave me much time to get in everything I’ve wanted to get in this summer, considering I’ve been working 6 days a week now. I did take Mack to Preston’s Hope park, which was something I’ve been wanting to do, but I also really want to take him swimming or to the Sprayground, to a Drive-in movie, and to Memphis Kiddie Park. Unfortunately with my work schedule, I just don’t think any of those things are going to happen within the next few weeks. On top of that, my dad has surgery again on the 24th (for those who don’t know he has a very rare autoimmune disease in his throat which causes tumors, and the inability to speak on occasion), and my sister has her biopsy scheduled for the 26th. Crazy week for the Buling/Tomeis/Buells, that last week of July!
I’ve mentioned it before, but I’ll say it again. This news does not surprise me. I am mentally prepared to hear that the cancer is not completely gone, and we just need to go the extra mile to get rid of it for good. Obviously, the best news ever would be remission, but I’m totally the type of person who would rather expect the worst, so that I’m not disappointed. (although it seems like expecting it to still be there is not so far-fetched). What I am NOT prepared to hear is that the cancer has progressed, or spread somewhere else. THAT is a whole different ballgame, and I can honestly say that I am NOT AT ALL mentally, emotionally, or physically prepared for what that might entail.
Should the results show the cancer is still there, I will immediately be inpatient, and begin the process of harvesting my own stem cells. This requires some intense chemo for about 4 days or so, then a total stem cell transplant. For information about what exactly a stem cell entails, click on this link: http://www.drugs.com/cg/bone-marrow-or-stem-cell-transplantation.html There are too many “what-if”/bad scenarios with the transplant, so I don’t like to know everything about it just yet. What I DO know, is that I will have to remain inpatient for approx 6 to 8 weeks, inside this plastic bubble type device. Which means, no hugs/kisses/snuggles from my Mack, or from Derek. I think all the physical effects aside, this will be the worst for me. BUT I have already thought about how to help ease this time for Mack. I’m going to record myself reading some of his favorite bed time books and songs on a CD, so that he can play it at night. That will make me feel a little better. Plus thank God for ipads and iphones. I can at least face-time with him nightly. Overall, its a small price to pay for a lifetime with the people I love, right? Totes.
All-in-all I’m in good spirits. At least I will have an answer soon. I am determined to beat this shitty disease. Maybe not today, or tomorrow, but I will do it. And at least my family and friends can know–with my blog plastered on the Internet for all to see–how hard I fought…just in case.
Continue to fight my friends: Kris, Marty, Nick, Ashley. Always in our prayers! 🙂 …oh ya and Dr. C. Thanks again for saving my life once. Now if you wouldn’t mind saving it twice, if necessary, that would be awesome! YOLT! (Because YOLO is bullshit. It’s certainly possible to have a second chance)!
(*Dear Aunt Laurie and Uncle Randy: YOLO=you only live once. YOLT is a phrase I made up, so I’m not sure what will happen if you google it…..so YOLT=you only live twice. I wouldn’t want to be responsible if you accidentally looked up porn or something.)
*Additional notes: My sincerest apologies to whoever’s cat was eaten by our dogs this week. Also shout out to Mack, who woke me up this morning by taking off his diaper, peeing on the floor, rubbing his hand in it, then wiping it on my face. Thanks bud.
Below are some pics from our trip to Preston’s Hope playground in Beachwood. We had fun, although it was super hot that day!