Thursday, October 23, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Waiting to learn if the cancer is gone

Friday, September 21, was a big day for me. It was the day I had imaging scans done to see if there were any remnants of cancer left in my system.

Waiting to learn if the cancer is gone

Friday, September 21, was a big day for me. It was the day I had my imaging scans done to see if there were any remnants of cancer left in my system.

The scans themselves are boring to sit through. About an hour before they are done a technician injects radioactive glucose into my system. Then I sit around and watch TV or play on my phone. This downtime allows my muscles to relax while the radioactive sugar goes to the sites on my body with high metabolic uptake. The PET scanner is nothing but a large tube that emits gamma rays into my body while I lay still and am moved in and out of the tube. It takes about 40 minutes. The CT scanner is also a tube that I am moved in and out of, this one had jungle-themed stickers on it. The technician injects you with radioactive contrast while in the machine. It usually takes about a day or so for the radiologist to read the results. A long day or so.

While I was waiting, I couldn't help but think of another big moment a month earlier. 

On Friday, August 24th I had my fifth and final round of chemo, although it was in question whether that would take place. I was supposed to have my treatment on the Tuesday before, but my blood counts were too low. When chemotherapy is administered, it lowers the amounts of three parts of your blood, the platelets, or scab formers, the neutrophils, a type of white blood cell that defends against disease and infection, and the hemoglobin, which transports oxygen around the body.

Being the math mind that I am, I was curious if I could find out if there was even a chance I would be ready by Friday. I had my prior blood counts and I could see if the pattern was linear or exponential, but I decided to take the easy way out and ask the nurse practitioner instead. Unfortunately there is no pattern, it is different each time for each person. I was disappointed that day; all I wanted to do was finish. I wanted it to be done and over with. Most importantly, I wanted to be able to go to school. That Friday when my blood counts came back high enough I was ecstatic, and that Monday I got to start school without skipping a beat (or a class).

One obstacle behind me. Then for the results of the imaging scans.

I am very happy to say that I am cancer free. On my ride home from the hospital my oncologist, Sarah Tasian, M.D., called to inform me of the wonderful news. I mean, I could tell that the lymphoma that was in my system had at least diminished in size since I was diagnosed in May. The large tumor that was sticking out on the left side of my neck is flat now, after each treatment I could feel it shrink in size.

It really is a fantasitic feeling; I even danced a little when I heard the news. My family was very happy as well; my mom leaned across the car to give me a big hug (at a stop light of course). Dr. Tasian told me the results would not be final until a radiologist looked at it, but I trusted that she could read the results just fine (I got an email to confirm my remission a few days after that). The best part of remission is that I do not need any more chemotherapy. I also get to switch up my schedule a bit, instead of twice a week; I only have to go to the hospital every three months for check ups.

All in all, I am ready and excited to start this new chapter of my life, my new normal.

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