Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tuesday, February 23, 2010 -- Olympic Fever continues

Hiya Blogmates,

Here we are, with the city still in high Olympic Fever mode! It really is a wonderful thing to experience even though I have not made it down to mingle with the crowds of thousands. Half of me really would love to be down there, but the more practical half of me realizes that this is NOT a place for me to be since I'm not comfortable in huge crowds and I'm not confident about my balance because of my damaged feet/nerves. Soooo, this has been a bit of an eyeopener for me, to realize that just because I have the opportunity or desire to do something, doesn't necessarily mean I am able to do it.

My favourite Olympic moment so far has been the Gold medal win by our young Canadian ice dancers, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. What a magical, gorgeous, exquisite dance they did! It wasn't even a matter of "How can you tell who is the best, they all do well!" Their short program and long program were both exquisite... and not only did they win the Gold medal, even more important is they made history. To be, not only the first Canadian team to win a Gold medal since Ice Dance became and Olympic sport, but the very first North American team. It was wonderful to see history happening before our eyes! It was also humourous to see the reaction in all the huge, licensed venues who had the big screens. The stereotype "hockey guys", drinking beer and watching the Olympics, jumping to their feet and hooting and hollering when this exquisite couple won Gold :) I love the Olympics, summer or winter, and am still trying to figure out what it is about them that is so addictive. Anyone who knows me knows that sports is NOT my thing and you won't find sports on my tv any other time of the year... but during the Olympics, it's magic! I was going to say it's the difference between watching amateur athletes at the top of their game, except so many of them are professional, so that doesn't work. Maybe it's because the reward is the competition and being acknowledged for being the best in your field... vs turning pro and making obscene amounts of money for what? For playing a game? Because of supply and demand? Just because someone makes $6 million/year doesn't prove to me that he/she is the best... it just means they are all wrapped up in the commercial/corporate financial game. So, I plan on enjoying these last days of the Olympics and then my tv will go back to regular programming :)

Ok, on to the more mundane daily stuff. Last week I had blood work done and have been waiting for my oncologist, who is on sabbatical and doing research for new treatments, but she said she will keep tabs on me even though she isn't doing her clinical practice for 6 months. Sharlene called me yesterday with the results... and they are not exactly what I was hoping for. I have been doing so well and feeling great, that I've basically put the whole cancer thing out of my mind. Yes, I had it, yes, it was very serious, yes, it is Stage IV having spread to outside the original area... but we dealt with it, we've had two big surgeries, we've gone for 8 months of chemo and 5 1/2 weeks of radiation... so I figure I've done my dues and now I will remain stable, if not cancer free.

Last July, when I had my CEA taken, the reading was 1.6 which is good. Anything under 4.0 is considered "normal" although everyone is different so a 6.0 could be normal for someone else. But, it appears that my "normal" is in the low digits. In Nov, my reading was 2.4. Again, nothing to get excited about, but it was higher than in July, so we are to keep an eye on it. Last week's reading was 3.1. Again, not necessarily anything to get excited about, except for the fact it has risen from 1.6 seven months ago to 3.1 today. CEA readings are used as a diagnostic tool... they are not the be all or end all of decision making. CEA is a substance in the blood where, if there is active cancer, the CEA amounts will rise. This does NOT work for everyone... some peoples' CEA doesn't budge... others is up in the hundreds but nothing is wrong. So oncologists do not rely on it to diagnose... but they do use it as a marker.

Since my CEA appears to be slowly rising, this is grounds for moving my CAT scan that was scheduled for May up to March. Sharlene wants to wait 3-4 weeks to take another CEA blood test. At that time, we will also have a CAT scan done. Then she dropped a surprise on me. She said that since we are doing a CAT scan (this is to see if the nodules in my lungs have grown), we may as well also schedule in an ultrasound for my kidney. Kidney?? What's with the kidney? Well, apparently I have a "cyst" on my kidney and she is pretty sure it has nothing to do with the cancerous adrenal gland we had surgically removed, but since this is the only "known" cyst in my body at this time, we may as well do an ultrasound and make sure it hasn't grown. Well fine, but this is the first time I have heard (or remember hearing) that I had a cyst on my kidney. She says we talked about it last time... and I don't doubt her, but I am amazed at how one's brain will shut down and if something doesn't appear important, then I block it out. I would argue the point that I do not remember hearing about a cyst in my kidney, except there are other things that I swore I knew nothing about, but had a friend with me at an appt. and they gently remind me that yes, in fact, we did talk about it.

Soooooo, I've been snapped back to reality and this battle with the Big "C" is not over yet. We now go through the testing to see what we can find. First, the CAT scan and the purpose for that is to compare the size of the lung nodules against the CAT scan in November to see if they have grown, or are growing faster. Also, the CEA blood test, to see if the CEA reading goes up again, or does it fall back down. And, the ultrasound, to see if this "cyst" remains dormant and just a cyst, or if it has grown.

IF the lung nodules appear to be growing, then it will mean going back on chemo. If they appear to be stable but the CEA has risen, then we have to look elsewhere. If the kidney cyst remains to be just a cyst, then chances are I'll have a PET scan, which will scan the whole body and instead of checking the skeleton/organs (like an xray or CAT scan), it checks on the molecular level to see if there are any hot spots where there is molecular cell growth.

Sooooo, my friends, I'm back to asking everyone to spare a few positive thoughts and wing them over my way from now until the end of March when we should have all the tests/scans done. I totally understand the procedure and why things are done in the order they are done... I have no problem with that. But it is the having been taken out of my protective cocoon where I was not thinking things medical because as far as I was concerned, I do not have active cancer.

Now, I really must go get the laundry out of the dryer, fold it and put it away. I shall babble on with another blog entry soon.




Anonymous said...

No babbling going on here. You make perfect sense. And how am I supposed to send you any more loving, healing, no cancer thoughts than I already am. I never quit! You are in my thoughts everyday! I guess I'll stay up a little bit extra tonight to send some increased wonderfulness to you.

Love to you always, Susan S. (Issaquah)

Anonymous said...

Like you, I love the Olympics, winter or summer. I always have Olympic withdrawals when the games end.
I was thrilled for the young Canadian ice dancers. They were magical!

Cheryl, my positive thoughts and prayers have not stopped heading your way. I will turn the white lights on high.

Hugs, Maryann

Kathy said...

Cheryl, I admire your spirit! Mega Hugs to you. Of course you're always in my prayers and I'll put in a couple of extra for a while just in case some aren't getting through.

In the meantime - GO CANADA! unless it's for hockey in which case it's "click" as the TV goes off :)