It has been exactly 4 months since I sat in the doctors office at City Akuten with Mia and got the news that I had non-hodgkins lymphoma. Mia cried and I was in shock. This is not happening to me. So began this journey and today it would be the beginning or the end of something after the doctors appointment to find the results of the most recent tests from Monday.
I have undergone 6 cycles of RCHOP given every other week. I had a few preliminary tests and procedures done before chemo that hurt like hell but were necessary to determine the extent of the cancer. I had a toenail removed due to an infection. I have had some side effects to these powerful drugs to kill the cancer - which have taken a toll on my body and won't be better until a year has gone.
Today is the day. I woke up early after having trouble to fall asleep last night. Not nervous but anxious in a subdued way. Hoping for the best but forcing myself to consider the worst. Peter was very anxious too. It is hard to be the spouse to a cancer patient, probably a very helpless feeling.
I fell back asleep and then woke up around 9 am. I asked Peter to make me some American pancakes. He did. Thanks Peter. The tension in the air was thick. We are all thinking about it, but not really talking about it.
The messages of good luck and well wishes were making my telephone sing. (my heart too.)
Finally got around to showering and getting ready. I briefly considered not even going to the appointment, think if I could just live in ignorance of the results. NOPE, that's not how us humans work. We need closure and we need to know.
The time to go was approaching and my anxiety level was building. Deep Breathes.......
I packed my backpack with my journals and list of questions to the doctor. I put the bottle of champagne for the doctor in the bag and zipped it up.
We said bye to the kids and headed towards the hospital. I could tell that Peter was anxious because he talked about everything but what we were on our way to do. We were both thinking about it in our own ways. Of course, there was a bit of traffic but we made it with plenty of time to spare. I had HAPPY on repeat and we listened to it way too many times according to Peter.
He takes out the report from the pet/ct scan and starts explaining "the lymph nodes have decreased from the last time from a size of 29 x 12 mm to the size of 22 x 6 mm" I am thinking "it is not all gone" panic. OK, so it has gotten smaller but its not gone? that's right says the doctor. Then he goes on and reads the next line "it does not show any increased FDG uptake."
INFORMATION about this radioactive substance that they used to determine how much cancer is active: FDG = fludeoxyglucose.
F-FDG is taken up by cells, phosphorylated by hexokinase (whose mitochondrial form is greatly elevated in rapidly growing malignant tumours), and retained by tissues with high metabolic activity, such as most types of malignant tumours. As a result FDG-PET can be used for diagnosis, staging, and monitoring treatment of cancers, particularly in Hodgkin's disease,non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, colorectal cancer, breast cancer, melanoma, and lung cancer.
So the FDG uptake means that the areas of high cancer activity show up on the imaging. In my case, nothing showed up even though the tumor is still there. It is now just dead cells. Karolinska Hospital has a lymphoma protocol on how they treat the disease. Because my tumor is less than 2,5 cm then there is no need to give radiation or any further treatment.
Once we understood that it was gone and no cancer activity, my husband was overwhelmed with emotion and relief and jumps out of his chair and gives the doctor a big hug (at least 30 seconds long) then he comes over to me and gives me a hug. I can feel his relief in his hug and start to cry too. We are still in shock but happy. Now it is time for me to ask my 20 questions about all the side effects, limitations, next steps and let him take a last look at my toe.
My family in the USA is so anxious to know results that during the appointment my phone is ringing with a FaceTime call from my niece. I answer and tell her I will call back soon and the news is good news. The rest of the calls - I just let the phone ring on vibrate.
Side effects will take about a year to go away. Not too much to do about them- just accept. I can now go swimming and get my toe wet. (my toe hasn't been wet since May 5th), our trip to the USA is a go, next appointment is in September. Risk for infection still high for next three months, need to be aware of that. Still numb, calm and quite it was time for us to go.
|Dr. Claes Karlsson and I|
We leave his office and walk down the corridor, right past Olga's office (a.k.a the bone marrow biopsy hard handed doctor) and I don't care. All of it was worth it.
It feels like we are walking on a cloud. We head to the pharmacy to get my last medicines. I have started to text all the people that needed and wanted to know right away. My phone is buzzing with encouragement.
We treated ourselves to lunch at Stallmastergården. YUM YUM. Some Swedish specialties. I updated Facebook with the news and it was fantastic to share it with everyone that has been so supportive these past four months. I can't say thank you enough to all of the people that have cared and supported me throughout this fight against the cancer.
|Kalix lojrom........my favorite|
We took the long way home through Vaxholm and the car ferries after stopping in Täby.
|The sun started to shine the closer we got to home.|
|Cows in the fields just enjoying themselves.|
Upon arrival we are greeted by the kids. Eric has made a really neat drawing of the cancer cells being killed and all gone. Everyone let out a collective sigh of relief. Then everything was back to normal for them.
|Opening the champagne.......|
After a little while it was time to give the kids some food. Then it was time to pop the bottle of champagne and enjoy it with some strawberries. (Ok, I need to admit that this will be my dinner tonight.) I am now on my fourth glass of champagne, feeling quite tipsy but content.
Peter is excited because he gets the honor of guest blogging tomorrow while I am packing for our trip.
Now my goal is not to lose focus of what is most important in life and to live life to the fullest, starting right now.
KICKED CANCER'S ASS.