My last radiation treatment ended a week ago this past Monday and I have been slowly getting back to my regularly scheduled life. Well frankly I am attempting to get back into the office more often, I am still a shut-in at night and haven’t done anything socially other than a Senior Management Team lunch at work (I don’t think that counts though).
On Monday I had my regular blood work done and everything was good. My white blood count, red blood count and platelets were all in the normal range. I was impressed with my resilience. It was only 2 weeks earlier that I had a white blood cell count of 1 and had to have a transfusion to boost up my red blood cells. I am still fatigued a good amount of the time and if I overdo it- I feel not just tired but sick, so I am really trying to listen to what my body is telling me.
The biggest treat has been food. I started eating vegetables this week! It has been ages- and I cannot express how wonderful it was to have my first salad again! It was heaven! Experiences like this remind you how much the simple things like lettuce are to you!
I am still unable to walk more than a couple of blocks without getting really winded, but I think I just need to build up my stamina – slowly.
There is also the weight. I lost 40 pounds over the course of treatment- which was approximately 20% of my body weight. I probably could have afforded to lose 20 lbs, but 40 pounds was way too much. Most of my clothes fit like a teenager wearing his dad’s clothes. I do have some pants and jackets from various weight periods- so I can wear some of the clothes I bought when I went back to work after pneumocystis pneumonia in 1999! A good WASP never throws any clothes out—- unless they are totally moth eaten; it was fortuitous.
The next few weeks will be devoted to slowly continuing my recovery. The radiation caused some burning on my butt and my genitals and it that is slowly healing- but it is still painful. I’ll be happy when I am completely healed in that area.
The question I am getting most from folks is – “So when do you have a check up to find out how successful treatment has been?” Clearly it is an obvious question and one that comes from concern, but the question irritates me. I know it is coming from a good place, but right now I just want a couple of weeks not thinking about this while I get my health back. I don’t want to think about it right now.
So here for everyone is the answer to that question. My oncologist told me on Monday that we would be doing an exam in early December. Since it includes a rectal exam, they want to give me some time to heal (THANK YOU!) so the exam is not excruciating. Both the oncologist and the surgeon who specializes in dysplasia who originally diagnosed my cancer will be doing exams. The surgeon does not have an easy hand and his exams are rough in the best of circumstances. But my oncologist is very optimistic about my prognosis. Anal cancer is very responsive to treatment and most people have good outcomes. I mentioned to him that I was a little concerned because my tumor was large (all my doctors were scaring me when I was diagnosed when they would push me to have treatment rights away by citing the size of my tumor) and he responded that they were very aggressive with my treatment because of that so he was still very optimistic. By the way- no one was more aware than I about the aggressiveness of my treatment.
So- I am getting myself back to normal. I don’t want to think about my exams in December until I have to. I want to enjoy Thanksgiving and I want to start getting my total life back- social, cultural as well as work. A little blissful ignorance right now is just what the doctor has ordered.