It has been 2 weeks since my last blog post. Life has been crazy busy. Which I guess means life is getting back to normal, whatever "normal" is! I accompanied our students on a field trip to Six Flags Great America on what was one of the hottest days up till that point. I am "sorry" to say that I didn't go on any rides. I haven't been into roller coasters for many, many years. But I did spend the entire day walking and hydrating. I was able to get past 10,000 steps for the day. I am pretty sure that was the first time I exceeded 10,000 steps since I was diagnosed!
I had surgery on the following Tuesday to remove both chemotherapy ports. When they called from the hospital to tell me when my surgery was scheduled, they told me that I should plan on staying at the hospital overnight. I was a bit surprised, and questioned the woman who I spoke to. She assured me that was what my doctor had ordered. So I packed my overnight bag and prepared for an early morning at the hospital. When I arrived at the hospital on Tuesday morning, I met with my doctor. I reminded him that he was taking out both the IV and the IP ports. My check in time at the hospital was 6:30am. I was in the recovery room and ready to leave the hospital by 9:30am. Yes, the scheduling department at the hospital was mistaken; I was not scheduled to stay overnight. I returned home, spent the rest of the day and a good portion of Wednesday sleeping off the anesthesia. I was able to return to work on Thursday.
I had no idea that oncology social work was a specialty. The only reason I found out about it was the "Step Up to Survivorship" class I took. I asked the social worker for her card at the time and called to schedule an appointment with her. During my first appointment we talked about what I was most concerned about. I told her I wanted to lose the weight I gained while I was on chemo (about 30 pounds) and get back to running as quickly as it was safe for me to do so. She asked me if I had been to see a cancer rehabilitation specialist. Yet another specialty I had no idea existed. I called my Primary Care Physician and asked for a referral and scheduled my first appointment for PT for after my surgery.
I had a second appointment with my oncology social worker. We talked some more about my concerns: wanting to be able to run again, worries about recurrence, wanting my hair to grow back. She asked me if I had been in touch with Imerman's Angels. They are an organization that matches cancer patients with "angels" who have had a similar diagnosis, treatment and lifestyle. I went to their website when I returned home and decided to complete an application for support. It didn't take long for them to contact me to ask for some additional information. With 2 days, I was matched with a woman who lives about 3 hours north of me. We have exchanged several emails and have arranged to meet about halfway between our two homes in about 2 weeks. I wish someone had referred me to the organization as soon as I was diagnosed!
I had my rehabilitation evaluation last week. I really like my therapist. She asked me what my goals were, and I told her it was to lose the weight I gained during chemo and get back to running. I told her my goal was to run a marathon. She asked me when, and I told her as soon as I could safely do so. Throughout the session, while she was having me do various tasks, she told me that I was in much better shape than most of the cancer patients that she treats. That's small consolation for me, since I feel so weak, overweight, and out of shape! But I have to keep reminding myself what I have been through, and how much better I feel today than I did when I finished chemo about 5 weeks ago. She gave me some exercises to do, which I have been doing my best to get done twice a day.
This past Saturday was the "Break the Silence" Walk for the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition. It was incredibly hot, and the event started at 10:15am, much later than other events I have participated in. I walked with 4 of my friends, and my team name was "Nothing's Gonna Stop Me." It was a terrific event. Lots of support and recognition for survivors. Each survivor received a strand of teal colored beads for every year they have been in remission. Even though it has only been about a month, I received a single strand of beads. The most encouraging thing was seeing all the women who were walking around with 10-20 strands of beads. All the survivors gathered for a survivor picture.
As far as side effects are concerned, the fatigue has mostly subsided. I try to get 6 - 8 hours of sleep each night, but I am still taking a sleeping pill most nights. The nose bleeds have stopped, my hair appears to be growing back, although very slowly! I can see the beginnings of eye brows and eye lashes! The worst side remaining side effect is the damned neuropathy. It comes and goes, and varies from slight numbness in my hands and feet to severe pain. One moment I feel well enough that I "forget" that I have any, and within minutes my hands and/or feet will spontaneously swell, then begin to hurt. I am beginning to think I need to keep a detailed log of when it flares up, so I can see that it is actually getting better.