Thursday, June 19, 2014

KICKED CANCER'S ASS

2014.06.19

THURSDAY

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.


We checked in and then went to sit up in the waiting room. Peter said he didn't know if he would be able to (or want to) read the doctors demeanor in advance to see if it was good news or bad news. We came into the office and sat down. My head is cloudy, foggy, not 100% receptive to all that he is saying.

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 lymphomacolorectal cancerbreast cancermelanoma, 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
Before we can leave his office, Peter gets out the bottle of champagne and says "Thank you" Then it is time for a picture so I can have a memory of this great day.

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.

GRATEFUL. 

LOVED. 

KICKED CANCER'S ASS. 

FAMILY. 

FRIENDS.

19 comments:

  1. Anonymous19/6/14

    You are such a fighter and should not even have had this disease in the first place. You are relieved and so am I and everyone around you. This event has made a big impact on how you and I look at life and made us appreciate family and life. Now we focus on the future. Love you always. Pete

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    1. Let us love life and live it to the fullest. Xxxxxx

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  2. Anonymous19/6/14

    Teresa, I am elated to learn the good news. God has answered all our prayers. Now it's time to live life to the fullest. Enjoy your trip to the States. My love to all of you. TerryB

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    1. We hope to see you soon! Xxxxxx

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  3. Anonymous20/6/14

    YES!!!!! Stockholm Strong! Joni & Jim

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  4. Anonymous20/6/14

    Dearest Teresa! Thank God! Thank God! You have so many people praying for you and lighting candles - all my friends and mere acquaintances asked your name and put you on their prayer list. Your courage, your strength together with Peter, and all your friends and family and prayers from around the world .....amazing.
    Dad and I are extremely grateful to all of the Doctors and Nurses in Sweden who took care of you and cared for you! They have our deepest gratitude and blessings. We are sure that your Doctor also felt the elation when he was able to tell you that you are on the road to better health now.! Can't wait to hold and hug you, Peter, Kevin, Marcus and Eric! Con Amore, Mom and Dad

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  5. Anonymous20/6/14

    Darling Teresa: We also want to send our blessings and great big hugs and kisses to all of your friends in Sweden. They have gone through this journey with you, just as we have too. Thank God that Mia was there with you when you first heard the bad news, thank God that Peter was with you when you heard the good news now. While Dad and I don't know all of the many wonderful Swedish Friends who daily encouraged you, we thank them, especially, Mia, Steena, Petra, Nicki, your in-laws, your neighbors, all the parents of your son's friends, the lego school, etc. And of course your siblings and inlaws in the USA> Your life is precious. and all of these people will always have a special place in my heart for their support, their humor, their prayers, their presence in your life. How can we thank them? love, M&D

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    Replies
    1. How can you thank them? Cash is king. Hahahahaaaaaaaa

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  6. Anonymous20/6/14

    Dear Teresa, I have read your blog for a couple of weeks. I am awed at your strength. I have been praying for you since we heard the news. You have a wonderful family and that shows how you handled this terrible ordeal. Haven't seen you in years, but as I say to your parents we are friends here in Kings Park that we never forget no matter where we move on to. God Bless you and your family. Gerri & John Fargnoli

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the prayers and words of support. Warms my heart.

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  7. *crazy dance* YEEEESSSSS YEEEEESSSS YEEEEESSS! have no words today reading the best news ever. Just thanking thanking thanking! and thanking again. What a journey it has been and what an amazing person you are Teresa! now you go and wet your toe, drink champagne, swim naked in the moon shine, love, sing aloud, be crazy and just live live live! Bless you Teresa Hermansson - you ROCK!! xxx

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    1. Hej Eila- yes crazy dance for sure. Feels good!!!! It was all worth it.

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  8. Anonymous21/6/14

    Du är helt enorm och jag är så glad för din skull!!! Din inställning under vägen har varit så fantastisk så det fanns inte på kartan att det skulle blivit ett negativt resultat. Njut av livet och jag önskar dig en fantastisk tid i London! Det har varit roligt att följa dig! Storkramar/ irre

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    1. Hej Irre, tack för att du har följt bloggen. Dina ord har gett mig uppmuntran och stöd. Kram, kram

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  9. Erika Arenborn22/6/14

    Yippee, fantastic news! Getting goose bumps ! You're a true fighter and I wish you guys a great trip to the US and a smooth move to London. Will miss you but we'll meet again, either here in Stockholm or in London! Take care and enjoy your summer! Kram!

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    1. Thanks Erika- hope to se you Guds in London! Anytime!,

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  10. En vecka sedan fick du reda på det och jag läser först nu och det bubblar av glädje inom mig. Hurra du fixade det! Vilka underbara nyheter! Njut av din USA-resa och låt allt sjunka in, sakta och djupt. Du kickade cancern!!! CarinR

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