Gotta keep on keepin' on.......

Cancer again...that's 3 times in 2 years. This time it’s not breast cancer, but a new one called squamous cell carcinoma. New cancer, same old fighting spirit! My blog is still named for one of many songs that kept me going the first time around. Driving home from an upsetting appointment, I turned on the radio just as this line from Steve Miller Band's Jet Airliner was playing: "I've got to keep on keepin' on"....so I did just that. And I'll do it again.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

I'm a graduate of Chemo University! YAY!

I am either still hopped up on the chemo steroids, or maybe it was that 2nd cup of tea I had around dinnertime, or possibly I am just itching to write in my blog.....but here I am, at 1:30 in the morning, unable to sleep.

I ache a little bit, but nothing bad. Actually, I feel a lot better than in previous chemo weekends. Maybe it's because I AM FINISHED WITH CHEMO!!!!! My doctor promised me this is it, no more chemo, assuming the cancer doesn't come back, but I'm not thinking that way right now. The main thing: I am finished with chemo and have three weeks to relax and prepare for surgery.

My last treatment was one big celebration. I was so excited about the big day that I baked cookies (snickerdoodles), and left a dozen or two at each station: reception, blood-drawing, lab, my doctor's office staff, and the nurses' station in the infusion room. As I passed through each station, everyone gave me hugs and congratulations. I'll see them again next week when I go for my checkup, and 3 to 4 times a year for the next 5 years, so it's not like we'll never cross paths again....but you know, it was an emotional day and we all got caught up in it.

My friend Janet flew in on Wednesday to help me celebrate, too. We've known each other since 1st grade. She can always make me laugh, always a good thing, especially now. For Friday, we planned to have John drop me off for chemo while Janet watched the kids, then she would drive out later (after I slept off the Benadryl) to sit with me to the last drop of Taxol....after that, we weren't sure what we'd do but we figured it would at least involve coffee and shopping!

My infusion was fairly uneventful. One of my favorite nurses, Renee, hooked me up. She and Ashley, my nurse from my first treatment....before my port, when I passed out after being stuck too many times....we all joked about my being the entertainment that day, and how shook up Ashley was, and how we're glad she didn't change professions after having me as her patient.

Several nurses, and the nurse practictioner I often see when my doctor is at the hospital, heard it was my last treatment and they stopped by to offer congratulations. But other than all that attention, my infusion went as usual. Janet arrived not long after I woke up from my nap. John had packed her a nice lunch, and I hadn't finished mine, so we ate lunch together and chatted and just had a great time. (This was probably the first time since she arrived that my friend and I had had an uninterrupted conversation. The girls adored "Miss Janet" right away so it was tough to have a chat until they went to bed!)

Once my infusion was over, my nurse Renee presented me with a "Certificate of Completion", signed by the nursing staff. It really was a wonderful moment. I plan to get it framed and hang it with my diplomas. Janet brought me flowers, too, purple flowers (my favorite color) and yellow roses for friendship. I love presents!

Janet and I had the rest of the afternoon to celebrate. And how else would a girl celebrate anything but to go shoe shopping! And we BOTH bought shoes. I convinced Janet that her buying shoes would help with my heeling....I mean, healing! But first we stopped for coffee. I made mine a half-caf/half-decaf latte since I knew those steroids from chemo would soon be kicking in.

Coffee, new shoes, a side trip to the craft store to buy a birthday present for a party Leah's going to on Sunday, and then one last stop at the market to pick up dinner for the family.....what a great finish to a major milestone in my treatment. I was so glad to have a good friend along to help me celebrate!

I am still pretty wide awake but will sign off for now. I can fill you in on my weekend later. The short version: I had lots of energy, we went on a few outings, and I still don't feel quite as achey as in past treatment weekends. Of course, I'm not complaining. I am just so pleased that I made it through this far!

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