Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Before I begin reflecting on my cancer journey post brain surgery, I have to share my recent news! This news is far too incredible to put it off until a future blog post. In mid December of 2011 my ca125 (the tumor marker for ovarian cancer) was 5,631. This was devastating news, as my ca125 had never been that high before. My husband found a great story of a woman who had a ca125 count much higher than mine and is still alive and well today. After reading her story I chose to stop worrying about the number and focus on Christ’s faithfulness and will for my life.
Fast forward to the beginning of January. I had recently finished my first round of chemo and was scheduled to have blood work done and my ca125 checked again to see the effectiveness of the new chemo I was on. Much to my surprise my number had dropped 1,846 points. Making my ca125 3,785. Although the ca125 was still pretty high, I was rejoicing that number was beginning to decrease. During this same blood draw it was discovered that my ANC (white blood cells) were low which would delay my chemo treatment one week.
One week later I went in to have new blood work drawn to see if my ANC increased. Sadly, it had not increased enough to have chemo, however, my ca125 dropped even further! I am now in the mid 2,000s. Together with prayer, chemotherapy and Melissa’s guidance my cancer has been able to make more than a 50% decrease in one month. That is the largest decrease I have ever had. Here is hope that my ca125 continues dropping and I will soon be cancer free!
Now on with my story…
It was now late November and I was adopting my nutritional and fitness goals with ease. Beginning this new life style was becoming more natural each day and I found myself getting excited about nutritious food! I decided to participate in a co-op that supplied me with two huge organic produce baskets for a great price. I had so much fun discovering ways to use the variety of produce I received in my everyday cooking.
The next baskets I received I decided I wanted to try juicing. With Melissa’s advice and guidance I began a week long juice fast. With the help of my sweet friend Teri, I created juicing recipes that consisted of a variety of fruits and vegetables. I even joined Ms. Teri for a juice lunch. We created one of my favorite juices called the “Garden Salad.” The juicing was going surprisingly well. I never thought I could go a day without food, but before I knew it I had gone four days without food, just juice, and I was loving it!
That was until the fifth day of juicing. I woke up that morning with a mild headache. As the day progressed I became irritable and short. Before I knew it I was snapping at my husband for no reason at all and found myself holding back tears over the silliest things. It was later that night I realized my body was telling me it needed solid food. I had a small snack that evening and suddenly felt so much better. I slowly began incorporating food into my daily routine and before I knew it I was back to eating small meals five times a day.
Although the brain surgery was a success, I was still required to have minimal amount of brain radiation to remove any cancer cells that could still be present at the surgery site. After meeting with my radiation oncologist, I learned I was a candidate for a procedure called cyber-knife radiation. This procedure would only target the tumor site, instead of my entire brain. This was such great news, as I was terrified to have whole brain radiation due to its possible side effects.
In early December I went in for my first of three cyber-knife treatments. The treatment lasted about 38 minutes, which was possibly the longest 38 minutes of my life. The radiation itself wasn’t too bad. It was the actual procedure that was rough! I had to lay on a table in the middle of a large procedure room with my arms and legs strapped to the table. Then a full-face mask was put over my head and buckled into the procedure table, placing my head in a sturdy position. I had to lay there, completely still, while a large machine moved about my head and gave off invisible beams to my tumor. This was an experience like no other. I had heard that radiation was easier than chemotherapy before having the treatment. Although the outcome of radiation was much easier that chemotherapy, there is something about chemo I felt better with. With chemo you can see the drugs physically going through an IV into your body. When I would get sick, I knew it was because the drugs I actually saw going into me. With radiation, I did not see anything actually going into my body, which made the side effects a little more difficult to grasp. I received my next two cyber-knife treatments the days following. In celebration of my last radiation, the sweet nurse gave me my full-face mask to remember my experience!