Year One After Treatment

Year One After Treatment

Last week, I got the results from my latest PET/CT scan. According to my calendar, it was my 4th scan since the final round of immunotherapy last May.

It turned out to be lucky #4 because I heard the sweetest 3 letters anyone with cancer will ever hear:

N…E…D

No Evidence of Disease

No evidence that the stupid f*cking melanoma was ever there. None. My insides are “squeaky clean” according to my oncologist.

Holy hell, people! I can’t help but curse, I’m so f*cking happy!!

Me and my favorite person at the Miles for Melanoma event in Boston last year

A lot has happened in the past year since my treatment. I mean…like…a lot. Life keeps moving forward, with or without us, so it’s interesting to look back at the path I’ve chosen.

In the past year, these events top the list as the most important: stopped treatment early due to gastritis and borderline colitis, lost 20 pounds, went on steroids, had a nervous system reaction, lost my mother-in-law to a heart attack, interviewed like crazy and got 2 job offers, started a job as a traveler, and now my husband and I have decided to retire early so we’re in the process of buying a rental property.

Man – the last year of my life really makes my head spin. I’m only 33 and I feel like I’ve experienced enough to be twice that age.

OK, maybe not TWICE that age. I take it back 😉

But the last year was definitely tough. Going through treatment and then losing my mother-in-law so suddenly broke my heart. Here I was, really trying to keep my head above water with all the side effects of treatment, and then out of NOWHERE we lose a very dear family member. Losing her so suddenly made me realize EVERY day here on this earth is a blessing, side effects and all.

Life is short. Make the most of every day. Make the most of every year.

And that’s my plan. I’m working on kicking cancer’s ass – one year NED at a time.

New status!

Last week, I met with my oncologist and got the results of my latest PET/CT scan. It’s always so nerve wracking to meet with the doc – it involves so many important decisions and information that just prepping for the appointment can make me nervous. Walking in the door of the hospital is like walking into the unknown…I can always feel my heart racing as I try to stay calm. Deep breathing exercises usually help, and closing my eyes and using mindfulness meditation also helps to bring down my heart rate.

I didn’t expect to hear any change in treatment plan in this visit. I was hoping, at best, for no change in my scans.

But I was pleasantly surprised!! NED. No evidence of disease. The best three letters I’ve ever heard!!

My cancer is completely gone. No uptake on the PET scan. Nothing visible in the CT scan.

NOTHING! It’s like it all melted away!

I’m over the moon. All the craziness that I’ve been through, all the poking and prodding, all the infusions, for now, are done.

Would I go through it again? Honestly…yes I would.

Cancer really does something to you. I feel like being so young and looking at death is like a mind altering drug. I’ve become more patient. More sensitive. Less judgmental and more caring. I celebrate the little things and stress less about the big things. I’ve become closer to my family and friends…close in a way that I could never have predicted.

I’ve changed my whole outlook on life.

So to me, all the hardships for the past 20 months were all worth it. Giving up my career as an anesthetist in Florida, moving cross country for the BEST care at Mass General, building a greenhouse and a garden for my sanity, going back to work as a surgical neurophysiologist, all of this was a journey. It wasn’t a pleasant journey at times. But it was a journey that has changed not only my body, but also my mind and my soul.

I hate to say it. But I’m a better person thanks to cancer.

 

f04c020e08d0ac442a734de28f5987c1