The day before yesterday provided some uncomfortable moments when I realized I couldn’t remember when I’d last seen the lab slip issued in preparation for my 3-month checkup. My mind immediately went into panic mode: Checkup’s in five days (three business days!) and I’m going to have to replace the slip and then schedule the blood draw and it’s all going to have to be today if I want my onco to see the results in time! OMG! Going to Berkeley for the new slip and then getting the draw is going to take up the rest of the day! And so on.
Then when the worst of the panic had passed I remembered where I’d probably seen the slip last: when I gave it to the lab technician to get the blood draw required in advance of my CT scan last week. A call to the onco’s office confirmed that yes, they had the lab results already in the system. Would that all challenges faced by us NEDs could be resolved so easily, right? I can’t explain the sudden memory lapse; almost three years out of treatment I certainly can’t blame chemo brain. But things have been like this a lot lately, it seems.
Otherwise apart from the lingering fatigue I currently have few if any cancer-related complaints. My last scan of any sort was a year ago and since this one was CT instead of PET for the first time since diagnosis I take it as indication the onco thinks I’m doing well, perhaps really well. Not that I don’t believe him when he says so during my increasingly brief checkups but you know how it is: figuring things out on your own is so much more convincing. (Presuming of course your conclusions aren’t later proven wrong. I think I’m on safe enough ground here at least.)
Last month I was worried for awhile the cancer might be back because of the stomach pains that had been building for weeks. Four years ago stomach pain was the first indication something was wrong, and when I got my lymphoma diagnosis after six months of increasing and sometimes extreme discomfort their source was revealed: the 16-cm tumor growing in my abdomen was squeezing a bunch of my inner workings. Since I’d really rather not go through that again, this time I monitored the pains and eventually concluded they were different with little apparent potential to make me as miserable as pre-diagnosis. Eventually I chalked them up to a combination of diabetes medication the GP recently had me restart (no longer taking it, about to try an alternative) and anxiety resulting from switching antidepressants a few months back (in the process hopefully of fixing that too).
In any case, I told myself, the scan and checkup are coming up soon so if there’s anything awry it’ll be caught soon. And for now I’ve stopped worrying. Would that all challenges, etc.
Yet once you’ve experienced cancer, no matter how successful the treatment there’s always fear of it returning. I know from dialogue on the non-Hodgkin follicular lymphoma Facebook group I joined last year that it happens a lot more often than anyone involved would like. I’ve now been on Watch And Wait protocol almost three years and just because it’s been a smooth ride doesn’t guarantee that will continue indefinitely. Nobody knows, not even my very diligent oncologist. So at this time all I’m going to do is focus on making the most of surviving the bout I’ve already had. Oh, and keeping better track of my lab slips.
(Photo: don’t forget to stop and smell the peonies.)
(Republished from my personal Facebook account)