Wednesday, July 6, 2011

PET CT shows activity, requires further testing

Thank you for being here for me, in the midst of everything that is going on in your life, and in the midst of this amazing summer! And in this crazy world of so many things to pray for, thank you for continuing to keep me in your thoughts and prayers.

I wanted to share the results of last week's PET CT. I can't say this is a total surprise, but I was still stunned: The PET CT revealed "some activity" on (in?) my liver, and my CEA rose by 1.5 points to 3.7. (Normal is below 2.5)

In the category of things can always be worse, I hated that my CEA kept rising by 0.2 every month. Of course, now I would love to have a rise of only 0.2!

Of course, I would love to not be concerned about this at all. It took a few days after hearing the news to regain my footing again. It has been marvelous to be chemo-free for almost six months, and I want more of THAT.

In those six months, I feel like I've been able to look more outside myself. I could enjoy time with Tiron and the kids, be more involved with their activities, consider volunteering and doing other things that are just plain fun. I truly loved doing simple, everyday things. I even loved being able to wheel in the trash cans, especially since that is so out of character for me. 

Also during those same six months, it has been sobering to see so many others dealing with various forms of cancer. The parents and siblings of my friends. Parents of my children's friends (who are now friends of mine). Friends from high school. New friends. Friends of friends. And, in the category of "most heartbreaking," children of my friends. I hope that I can be as supportive of them as you have been of me. It is an honor that they invite me to be. 

Yesterday, I learned about an incredibly nice guy, who sometimes works on our house, always with a smile and good cheer, who was just diagnosed with a life-threatening cancer, and his road appears uncertain. Sole breadwinner in the family. Oldest child is around five years old.

It can feel so overwhelming.

Yet it is vitally important that we are there for each other.

On the day I had my PET CT, a friend was having a CT scan on her hopefully-gone tumor. Her test was in the morning; mine was in the afternoon. 

Even if I can keep my anxiety at bay, there always seems to be some fumbling around these appointments: A bad stick to my arm. A bad attitude from someone. Something that can turn an already-stressful day into a bad experience overall.

But, on this particular day, my friend left a note for me. A short, scribbled note on a small piece of notebook paper. For me, it was a warm and wonderful gift, making me feel like I had a friend in the room.

For the staff, it was an energizing force that literally passed through them. Everyone I ran into, when they learned my name, asked if I received the note. And when I said yes, they brightened up and then talked excitedly with someone around them about the fact that someone had left this note for me, highlighting their role in getting it to me.

These little things can change the course of a day. I was beyond touched that a friend would think about me on the day of her own big test, write a note and actually deliver it to the department where I would be. It changed my entire experience of the test. Now, instead of remembering the test itself, I primarily remember the note. 

Plus, we were all thrilled with the realization that that little scrap of paper made it to me despite shift changes, messy desks and staff who have many other patients to think about and treat. That little note brought more joy and good feelings than I think she could have conceived. With it, she lifted me, a whole department, and the ripple effects from there.

So, for all of us, whatever we are dealing with, I send out my best and aim to do what I can for everyone who needs it. 

Next step: I had an MRI this morning to get a better look at this. Stay tuned. Thank you for being there, for your prayers, and for every little thing you do. 


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