Monday, December 13, 2010

Peace of Mind

So, the bone scan was negative.  Woohoo!

In true Dr. Sara fashion, he didn't beat around the bush but rather walked into my exam room and blurted out those words (well, maybe he left out the "woohoo").  Of course, I was relieved, but after he told me last time that he wasn't too worried about it, I wasn't too worried about it either.

Still, it's very nice to know for sure!  And, who knows, the scan could have showed nothing on my spine but new spots we didn't even know about, since it was a head-to-toe test, so that is nice to know for some peace of mind too.

Dr. Sara reiterated that I am not going crazy or turning into a hypochondriac to start worrying about every little thing.  He said that I am not a "worrier" and in fact I worry just about the right amount.  But once you're diagnosed with cancer, it's hard not to let your mind go there every time you feel a little ache or pain.

He told me that growing up in Lebanon, his family used to get fresh milk delivered every day straight from the farm.  Before they could drink it, it would have to be boiled.  Anyone who accidentally burned their tongue on boiled milk would be careful not to make that mistake again, because it was painful.  Now, yogurt is also a staple of the Middle Eastern diet.  So, they have a saying: anyone who has burned their tongue on boiled milk blows wind on yogurt!  Point being, you become a little paranoid, and that is normal.

Dr. Sara said that I am still a normal person, and I'm still going to get normal aches and pains, headaches, etc., just like I did before I got cancer.  The difference is that before, I would think nothing of it, and now I wonder if every little thing is cancer.  He said that one good thing to keep in mind is that aches and pains that come and go are almost always nothing.  Aches and pains that come and stay are still usually nothing, but should still be checked.  I guess that makes sense - if there is a tumor growing somewhere, it's not going to magically grow and shrink and grow again, but will probably be able to be felt constantly.

He also said that no matter what, if there is ever anything bothering me (even if it's a pain that comes and goes) I should never hold back from telling him, and we'll get it checked out.  I'm not really one to hold back, so that shouldn't be a problem!

Now, I am nearing the halfway point of this course of chemo.  I started in early October and it's meant to last about 5-6 months or so, and I am still feeling no side effects.  Still no numbness or tingling in my fingers or toes, and my blood counts are still good.  My eyelashes don't seem to be falling out as much, which is nice.  They're still definitely thinner than usual, but I'm probably the only one noticing.

My hair is still fully in tact and in fact, I got my first haircut this week!  I decided I wanted a little more shaping too it (longer on top, shorter in back), plus I felt like I had leftover damaged chemo hair on the ends so I wanted to get rid of that.

Check it out:

My mom took this pic in the hospital waiting room Friday.  I'm happy with my hair right now, and you know, according to Glamour magazine, the pixie cut is "in" right now, so I'm going to stick with this for a little while!  Special thanks to my stylist Rita!

Well, that is all for now.  I have two more treatments left in 2010, and then it will be on to 2011!!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

I Think I'm Paranoid

(Another musical reference - remember the Garbage song from the 90's??)

For the most part, things are still status quo.  My treatments have continued on schedule (except I got to skip Thanksgiving week which was nice!), and I am still not feeling any of the expected side effects from the chemo.  No numbness or tingling in my fingers and toes (yet), and so far my blood counts are just fine.

Oddly enough, however, I think I'm losing my eyelashes.  It started a couple weeks ago - every time I washed my face I would seem to lose 2 or 3.  On the bright side, I made a lot of wishes by blowing the stray lashes off my thumb.  I still have some eyelashes, but they are noticeably thinner (at least to me) and mascara is becoming more difficult to apply.

I asked Dr. Sara about it and he said it's possible that this is a side effect of the chemo although usually the eyelashes are the last to go!  Which was the case when I lost my hair on the first round.  Weird.  I am not losing my hair at all (thankfully!) so this must be some kind of fluky thing.  Which is just fine with me, I guess - could be worse!

Now, you know how I always say that I am not going to worry about things until I have a reason to worry?  Well, I've found that promise a little harder to stick by the last few weeks.  I'm starting to experience some of the paranoia that I guess is inevitable when you have this dumb disease.

It all started in the couple weeks leading up to Thanksgiving.  I was really busy at work - staying late and coming in early, and even doing some work from home over the weekend.  Lots of time logged at the computer and then I went on a business trip for a few days where I brought my laptop and lugged the heavy thing through the airport.

So, naturally, I started to feel some tension and soreness in my back during this time.  The problem is that when you have cancer, you become hyper aware of every little thing in your body, and there is always the nagging thought in your head that "what if this is not run-of-the-mill soreness, what if it's not a normal headache... what if it's the big bad C make another appearance?"  It sucks, because once you entertain this thought it's hard to get it out of your head.

Every time I get checked out these days, Dr. Sara asks me if I'm having any back pain because of those two spots on my spine.  So of course I was very aware of this when thinking about my back soreness.  There've been times over the last couple weeks where I got really worried about it and I did lose a couple nights' sleep over it (but only a couple).  But things always seem 10 times worse at night for some reason and then in the light of day you realize how ridiculous you were being.

And then there were other times (especially in the morning when I was well rested) when I thought I didn't feel anything at all and I thought I must be going crazy.  And then the fleeting but quickly dismissed "oh no - if I'm going crazy does that mean the cancer could be in my brain?"!

So, on Friday I told Dr. Sara all about it.  He said I am not going crazy and it is perfectly normal to feel this way and be worried about things that I feel.  He examined me and said that he thinks it is just muscle soreness that I'm feeling, for two reasons.  One, the specific spot that I seemed to feel it most is not right on the spine, but a little to the left.  Two, he said the lesions that I do have (which have always appeared healed since they were discovered), are so small and located in a place that he wouldn't expect anyone to feel them.

But, just to give us all some peace of mind, I am going to have a bone scan on Wednesday.  Dr. Sara said that he is not worried and he is not going to lose any sleep over it, and neither should I, but it will be good to have the scan just to be sure.  I will get the results when I go for my regular chemo appointment on Friday.

This experience has made me realize that having cancer is like living under your own personal constant terrorist threat.  Terrorists are fearmongers, and that is something they have in common with cancer.  But I don't want to be the type of person who walks around with a gas mask in her purse because she's so paranoid!  And I don't want to go running to Dr. Sara to get scanned every time I feel something a little off.  But, it was good hear Dr. Sara say that I'm being completely normal, and even better to hear him say that he's not worried about it but we're going to get it checked out anyway.