Date: June 23, 2024

Halfway through chemo and more tests

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Halfway through my chemo cycle, it was time to recheck the size of my tumor and get an updated echo to make sure that what we were doing was effective and not harming my heart.

A woman wearing sunglasses in front of a car.

It has been a busy week with doctor's appointment, and tomorrow I have my fourth round of chemo. Cancer is crazy, you feel like you live at doctors' appointments. Monday started with a sonogram and my weekly blood draw, yes, you read that right, weekly! The sonogram was done to confirm that my tumor had not gotten any larger and was responding well to treatment, which thankfully it was smaller. On Weds. morning I had my standing appointment with my Oncologist, I meet with him every three weeks. Then, tomorrow is chemo and on Friday I go back for my injection.

During the appointment with my oncologist, we primarily discuss how I am feeling overall and how the last round went. We also go through my weekly bloodwork results and then I take a few minutes to ask all my crazy questions. This week was regarding when he thought I would be able to fly after surgery and if I could get my eyebrows tattooed on. I know, the hard-hitting questions.

While some might be shocked that these are my questions and that I don't just questions related to my cancer, like different treatments, prognosis, and potential outcomes. After my second round of chemo, I did ask what happens after surgery if cancer is still found and the answer was not what I wanted to hear. In that moment I remembered my dad telling me that you shouldn't ask questions if you are not prepared for the answers, so I decided that I was just going to let the current treatment plan run its course and trust the process. Then, after I get through surgery, and we receive the pathology results back we can go from there. Cancer is a journey of crossing bridges, you just have to deal with each bridge crossing the best you can.

It is hard to keep everything straight when you are being treated for cancer. Follow-up tests must be run, bloodwork is frequently checked, and doctor's appointments are a constant!

I often say the line from Seinfeld. You know the episode where they are asking how long something will take and the response is, "Two weeks!" Well, the joke is on me because of how often you hear, "It will be about 10 days to two weeks" when you are waiting on results. Now I just plan for "two weeks" and try to think of that scene and it makes me smile.

Today as we were discussing what the results were from my sonogram I mentioned that they kept telling me that the tumor only had a marginal change and was slightly smaller in size. I took that as a win, but that I could sense the caution in the radiologist's conversation. I completely understand why, he did not want to swing my emotions either way and I can respect that. I can only imagine the questions he is asked that frankly, there is no way he could answer, he simply does not have enough information.

The radiologist and I shared a brief conversation after he told me he couldn't tell whether I was faking my smile for him and the tech, or that is how I am. I explained this is how I am. I choose to be thankful for the situation I am in because I have had a front-row seat to others' battle with cancer and although I do have bad days, I feel blessed to be fighting the battle that I am. I take these results as a win, express my gratitude, trust the doctors and frankly just wanted to get back to my office. He told me that he was not going to forget this conversation and it was a good reminder that life is all about perspective, I told him I couldn't agree more.

The next appointment was to have a new echo done of my heart. The chemo I was taking can damage your heart so it was explained to me that they like to check it during treatment to make sure there is no change from the echo done prior to starting chemotherapy! The echo is a breeze, I went to my local hospital and was in and out in less than an hour. My kind of appointment!

During cancer treatments it is not uncommon to have follow-up testing to make sure the chemo is not affecting other organs.

After meeting with my Oncologist he shared that my sonogram was good and showed my tumor was getting smaller, my echo was good, and my bloodwork was really good! The part of the conversation that I found the most interesting was when I shared with him about the discussion with the radiologist. I did not realize that when the various technicians and machines had measured my tumor they all measured it differently.

Looking back it makes sense, because you are talking humans versus machines and where the pin is dropped as the measurement point. Plus, we are talking in cm! To share the difference, when I was initially told I had cancer I was told it was a 1.5 cm tumor hence my thinking this was going to be talking about and handled quickly. Then when I had my sonogram done it was then measured around 2.5 cm and then when I had my original PET scan and that measured it at 3.5 cm. It was then that my doctor explained if we are going off the PET scan measurement, there was a greater difference from when I started then what I orginally thought after my updated sonogram.

Regardless of where I started, I was focused on where I was going and I was so thankful to have three wins in my book!

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