Below is a picture with some of the nurses that treated me at the Westwood UCLA Hematology Oncology clinic. These people are amazing - so sweet and helpful (although they scold patients when they need to!)
These pictures were taken the Friday that I had my port removed for the last time. I was NOT sad to see it go! My energy levels were pretty good at the time, and we brought Halloween-decorated cookies as a thank you for the staff. The weekend after the 6th round of chemo was probably the roughest, but we were still in a celebratory mood. The next Monday, we had a full car driving up to UCLA (Mom, husband, daughter, and I) since we decided to bring my daughter so that the nurses that had been taking such good care of us and asking about my daughter all the time could meet her. She did great and of course put on a show for the staff (they would individually go out to the waiting area and say hi to her since the clinic is always so busy with patients). These were good days, and I was very happy to share our excitement with them.
Since then, I've been at home recovering with low energy levels. Around the middle of week 2, I felt well enough to take over my daughter's morning routine, as long as I was careful about conserving energy. Basically, I would be able to get her into high chair, have breakfast with her, and change her into a clean diaper and day clothes - but would then need to sit on couch with her for a bit (reading or watching a show) before I caught my breath and felt well enough to pick her up and get her in carseat before driving her to daycare. Then after parking, taking her out of the car, carrying her up steps to daycare, I would need to sit down or just wait a few minutes before attempting the drive back. However, I find it well worth it so that I can spend time with her and have fun in the mornings, I just drive home and take it easy (or take a nap) afterwards!
I've been getting a lot of questions about what the next steps are. The good news is that my oncologist is still confident that I won't need radiation. I have an appointment next Friday to have all my blood counts checked to make sure that my body is recovering as it is supposed to, and we will also discuss more long term plans then. For now, it sounds like I won't have another PET scan (to confirm cancer is gone) until 3 to 6 months from now. We will be discussing when to take out my port-a-cath, which we might be doing in December - which was a shock to me, I expected I might need to keep the port in for 1 or 2 years. I am expecting to go back to work mid December, although it is too early to make concrete plans. In the next couple of days, I expect the residual bone pain to go away. In the next couple of weeks, I hope that the mouth sores and mouth pain will go away, that my taste buds will start to come back, and possibly to start seeing some hair growth! While the neuropathy (numbness) in my right hand has started to be alleviated, it might take months to a year to all go away. Finally, the hazy brain that has been driving me crazy (I rely on my good memory too much to lose it!) will take an indeterminate time to go away. My husband and work friends like to remind me that I worried about my brain not working well when I was pregnant and returned to work after having a baby - and that it did come back just fine - so I just have to give that time and try to be patient. If anyone is wondering, "chemo brain" feels 10 times worse than "pregnancy brain" in terms of forgetfulness!!
Ok, I think that is a long enough blog post, even if I have been absent for a while (and I'm starting to feel nauseus from the computer usage - something else I hope will go away soon!) There's some chemo-related tips I want to post later, I keep a running things of things I wish I had known about or better understood when I was first starting out that I want to write down.
Thank you again for all your support. I feel truly lucky and blessed to be able to write about the end of my chemo treatment and how I am cancer-free. :)