Friday, March 06, 2009

You have all been so patient…

…and I feel like the continuous patient. So sorry it has been like I fell off the face of the earth but it has truly been like the opposite has happened. I feel like I have been slowly coming back to the face of the earth. I have not been in much touch with the cyber world because I have been focusing on my other world; catching up on life and my family and work and everything else that I feel like I have been so far out of touch with for so long. We have been busy and doing lots of fun things which I know I have lots of pictures (and maybe some video too) to share. But for this post I will update so we can all get on with it…

I have within the last week or so had both of my scan done. I had a CT Scan first and then a week later I had my PET Scan. While chatting with the doc a month ago to prepare and set up these scans he basically warned me that when I got these scans… they were not really going to tell us anything big to go on. The big next step would be when I had these scans re-done three months following. The reason being is that the scan pick up not only on tumors, but scar tissue as well. I will have a lot of possibility for scar tissue for two reasons. One being that I had those two lymph nodes removed during the surgery that diagnosed me. This invasive surgery where they are digging around in my neck area can result in quite a bit of scar tissue. I can already tell you this… I can feel it. It is getting better as time goes on but I will always have some presence of that surgery on my neck. The second reason for the scar tissue showing up on the scan is that as the chemo and radiation do its work on the "tumors", it leaves behind scar tissue as well. So… his warning was planted in our heads so that we did not expect a big answer on anything after these most recent scans. They re-scan every three months right now for awhile so that they can measure growth. Growth is something that we want the measurements to result in NO GROWTH. This means that anything that the scan might be picking up on is not growing. Therefore it is believed to be scar tissue. Then three months later we do it all over again and hope for the same.

So, I met with the doctor today (Friday, March 06, 2009 – just in case I do not post this on the same day!) and chatted with him about the scan results. Let's just say that he left me with MUCH more news than I ever expected. So, the CT results actually showed that I was in complete remission. This is a big "hell ya!" but we wanna know more, right? Well, the PET Scan also was really positive. Not as positive but still something I am feeling pretty good about… now let me explain this one…

The PET Scan showed an enlarged lymph node (only one) under my right clavicle area. Just to orient everyone… this is the other side. It was slightly enlarged. It did NOT show up on my CT Scan that I had a week prior. This all being said, the end analysis:

The doc: "It is my job to be concerned because of your history and this is what I am supposed to do. It is my job to watch this carefully but that is all we can do with this right now. It did not show up on the CT Scan which makes me feel better. It I sent a surgeon in to remove it, they could dig around and remove 20 lymph nodes and not get the right one. This lymph node may not even be cancerous and if it is we do not know if it is benign or not… we watch… we re-scan."

Me: My processing of all of this does not get me concerned. Here are my reasons… It did not show up on the CT Scan. This makes me feel really good. An enlarged lymph node can be because of a mild infection/virus at the time. We all get inflamed lymph nodes. Another positive is that it is on the OTHER side of my body. Not the originally infected side. You may say "ah, that is freaky though… scary." But because of it not being consistent on both scans… this makes it more likely to me that it is some moment of inflammation and not something scary. The other reason I am not letting it get me all worked up is simply… we cannot do a damn thing about it anyway. Not right now. We wait… we watch… we re-scan.

So, we have a sort of "almost to remission" diagnosis. I am not at a point where I want to shout from the top of a mountain or anything. I am not one to take little bits and make big celebrations out of them. Some of you know that about me. I will get re-scanned in three months, get positive results and feel better. I will get re-scanned three months from that and get positive results and then feel really damn good. I am not saying that I will not celebrate. I will celebrate every step of the way. But the big moments for me feel so far away. I want a year of those scans and then I am going to be so damn happy. Then I want two years of those scans and then I probably want to have that "Danielle beat this shit" party that Paul so badly wants to have. That will be a good day. It is such a waiting game but like I have been repeatedly told myself and everyone else… I don't know what the results of all this will be. But, I am SO HAPPY to be feeling better. I cannot tell you how different I feel compared to when I was going through the treatments. One thing I have really learned as a result of finishing up my chemo in November and then finishing my radiation in January is that I really did NOT understand or comprehend how awful I felt. It is strange how this happens but I did not know how bad off I was and my body was until I started getting it back. I know how people can get stuck in a "being sick sort of rut". You don't remember what it is like to be well. To feel good. You lose sight of your goals and you don't really mean to. But man, I feel different. Don't get me wrong. I am not all done up and perfect. I am still damn tired almost all the time I feel like. I still "know" I was/am sick. But I am doing so much more. I have really productive weeks. I am catching up on work. I am feeling like a functioning person who can take care of herself and her family again. I am spending really great times with my unbelievably incredible kid. I am thankfully back in my favorite room of my house… my kitchen. And I have been having some fun in there again and this is good for my soul among other things.

That is the "Danielle-Health-Update" to date. Thank you to all of you who have been so concerned and thank you mostly for being so patient with me. I just needed some time to soak up some catch up time on other things. I also knew that this would take me some focused time to write and that is hard to come by these days. So also, thank you to those who are still with me and reading. I know it is quite long winded but boy oh boy it has been building up!

So, you may want to know how I came across some time to finally write this??!!?? I am currently in the car typing away while Paul drives us to Tampa for a night of fun together! This has been a long awaited Christmas present to Paul. His favorite band, Lucero, is playing in Ybor City in Tampa. AND even better yet at one of our old stomping grounds, New World Brewery! (As a side note to some… Paul and I both went to college (undergraduate) in Tampa. We met there and had lots of fun… some of that fun was with some of you wonderfuls who are reading this!) So for the entertainments of those who knew us then in Tampa this is our night… We are staying right in Ybor for obvious convenient reasons relating to non-sobriety at possible times of 2am. We are going to go to the Tampa Bay Brewing Company for dinner which is a place we used to go to quite a bit but it has moved from that location to a new and "cleaner" location so we will be simply reaching for memories and tolerating the need for change. I will always know it though as the place where I was wonderfully introduced to the deep flavors of my favorite tequila, Patron. I have since had many memorable (yes, I remember them) nights while visiting a bottle of beautiful tasty Patron. Then after this we will head to the show at New World Brewery which is also conveniently another place that Paul and I and many friends enjoyed many beers and much deep conversation which may have been followed by me tripping frequently on the uneven brick pavers while convincing everyone that they are wimps if they go home and that they need one more beer. I was normally very convincing…

So, we will go and have fun although I deeply doubt my stamina. I do get tired very quickly and very early. This should be interesting. Zane is tucked away safely and happily with Mimi & Papa.

Signing off… love to all. Oh, and by the way… I have about an inch of hair back. Yeah! But, I am currently joking that it is some kind of lame shorter version of Kosmo Kramer's hair.


  1. You and Ben may have similar hairstyles in a few months. One more reason for you to visit this summer, (we will need a picture of the brother and sister with the same hair-do). Well thank you for the update and I am thrilled for the not bad news. Overall very promising, but I can understand why you are not ready to celebrate. Hope you have a wonderful time in your old stomping grounds.

  2. Anonymous7:39 AM

    Thanks for the update, we're so happy you're feeling better and getting your strength back. We all have to have a positive attitude and outlook for the future. And it's nice to have you back among the human race! I'm sure it will take a little time to get back to "your 'ol self" again and Zane will have something to do with that; he'll get you going. You're in our thoughts daily...take good care. Love you, NANA xxoo

  3. Great to know you are back to the ALTYY lifestyle. I will drink some Patron to that.