Saturday, September 11, 2010

I have cancer again, don’t I?

Toni: Deep breath, Jennifer. I am telling you that I’m 99% sure this is NOT cancer. This is what we call folliculitis. It is basically an infected pore where a hair is.
me: It sounds like cancer. But my lymph node…
Toni: Yes, the infection has backed up into your lymph node and that’s why it is swollen. Use some hot compresses over the next few days and I’ll give you an antibiotic to take if it does not go away.
me: But what if it’s cancer. (*tears started pouring down my eyes*)
Toni: Jennifer, look at me. I will not lie to you. It is NOT cancer. (*Toni wrapped her arms around me and let me cry while having a panic attack.*)

I blushed and glanced down at the ground in embarrassment as I finished telling my oncologist, Dr. Heyer about my hysterical visit to my primary care doctor, Toni Nelson. Right before I left for Stone Harbor over Memorial Day weekend I found a dime-sized swollen lymph node on my leg and demanded an emergency appointment.

Dr. Heyer looked at me with sympathetic and honest eyes and said, “Do you want to know if this feeling and reaction ever go away?”
I nodded.
“It never goes away, Jennifer. I have patients that have been in remission for decades who come into the office with a bump, scar tissue or other anomaly on their body and their knee-jerk reaction is always cancer.”
“I don’t want to always have this reaction.”
“Jennifer, it’s normal. Now the anxiety you feel when waiting for test results will get easier over time …”
Doubtful, I thought to myself.
“… but the other reaction won’t. And that’s ok. That’s why we are here. If you ever want me to just look or check out something you are concerned about, you can always pop in here. We understand and, believe it or not, it happens often.”
“Well, at least I know I’m not the only crazy patient with in grown hairs.”
Dr. Heyer smiled in a very non-judgmental way, which I appreciated at the moment.

My exam ended with Dr. Heyer believing that I had no need for any imaging since I seemed to be in superb physical health and no oncology appointments for six months. What am I going to do with all my free time!?

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Train Screeching to a Halt

There is a plan we all have in the back of our minds for how our life will unfold. I am still always surprised when the train derails and I have to regroup and face a new life challenge to get back on track.

I had an abnormal pap smear (which I have never had before) and it didn’t find cancer, but it DID find high-risk, suspicious cells. After a colposcopy and a very painful biopsy the cells were found to be concerning, which the doctors felt needed to be eliminated immediately to avoid the cells developing into cervical cancer.

Several weeks after healing from the colposcopy and biopsy, I had cryosurgery, which was one of the most painful and strange experiences of my life. The procedure basically freezes and kills all the cells in your cervix, a lot like freezing off a wart. Once all the skin is shed, I will go back every three months for a repeat pap smear.

After speaking with my primary care physician, oncologist and women’s health specialist, I realized that these high risk cells are not in anyway related to my breast cancer, but because of my history, they wanted to be aggressive and stop these cells in their tracks. (And, yes, I should be able to carry a child still if I choose to in the future.)

I hate always having these medical concerns popping up, but I sure am blessed to have great doctors who are so in touch with my body and professional care. So … I shall wait for my next test in three months in the hopes that my train is running smoothly and back on the track.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Out With the Old and in with Jasper

I don’t know that I am necessarily “nesting,” but I am completely redecorated my condo and Matty and I are having a baby … well, we bought a puppy.

Two weeks ago, I had my condo painted professionally. I went from warm beige to a cool and contemporary grey blue called French Silver. I love how my home looks brand new and nothing like the place I spent two years being incredibly ill, sleeping on my bathroom floor and fighting for my life. It feels like a new beginning – a place for Matty and I – and it feels amazing.

For several months Matty and I have been looking a puppies online. Twice we fell in love and were disappointed when the puppies we liked had deposits or applications on them already … then we found little Jasper.

Jasper was born on November 14 and is just 10 weeks old. He is a black and tan longhaired Chihuahua that is expected to be 4-4.5 pounds when fully grown. We will travel to the animal rescue farm in Bristol, VA over Valentine’s Day weekend to pick up our baby boy and bring him home.

Now I need to hustle and finish redecorating my home so tiny Jasper doesn’t have to deal with the changes. Matty and I are ecstatic and think this represents a new beginning for our new little family.

Friday, January 1, 2010

01/01/2010: A Couple That Pukes Together, Stays Together

After spending two days in the ER and tossing nausea pills back and forth with Matty as we laid motionless on my couch, I can honestly say that the swine flu was no joke.

I was shocked that with my compromised immune system that I had not gotten the flu this season. Just when I thought that I had escaped its wrath, Matty and I got incredibly ill. Having just had knee surgery number 14, Matty was unable to drive me to the hospital, so after calling 911 and the EMTs carrying me to the ambulance, I spent New Year’s Eve in the hospital with an IV … just like last year.

Let’s hope this is not the theme for the remainder of the year. My resolution is to take the best care of my body as possible and be healthy. Starting the year with the flu is not making me very optimistic. :(