Saturday, May 5, 2012

All Good Things

Hello my dear friends and family! I know, it's been over 4 months-whatsa matta wit me? Well ironically, the answer is nothing!!
Like I have mentioned in the past if things are going well then I usually don't have much to report. So here I sit writing to you all feeling very lucky indeed.

I'll start by saying that I met with Dr. Moriarty at the end of February for my monthly check-up and bloodwork. I was sitting in my kitchen waiting to hear from Kathy with my CEA numbers and instead I heard from Dr. Moriarty. Now as you all know I love Dr. Moriarty, but when your oncologist calls you at home-it usually ain't so good. So as my stomach was churning I asked Dr. M "hi...why are you calling me?" (insert nervous laugh here)

Dr. M. said that my CEA was slightly elevated and though he wasn't overly worried or "freaked out" (he tries to use my language) he didn't like the trend. Now mind you it had only gone up a point in a half or so. But when my tumors "act-up" the CEA is usually consistent with that.  The last time my CEA started to rise is when my cancer resurfaced after the liver resection.

I was due for scans in about 3 weeks. Waiting that long for scans and results in cancer-time is about...hmm...lets say a year! Add on possibility of new cancer whatever...that's 2 years!! For the first 5 seconds I was like "okay no biggie, it didn't go up that much." That lasted for all of 5 seconds, then I fell to pieces.

For the next 3 weeks I was a mess. I stopped working out, watched a lot of t.v. and sat and stared a lot.  I don't like to admit it but I was pretty depressed.

It's not that I am scared of, or worried about treatment. For me, with stage 4 cancer, I just skip over all that and think, "okay is this where I die now?" I hate to be morbid, but this is a cancer blog, and it's how my mind works. That's what rots about cancer. I think especially stage 3 or 4. There isn't anything that anyone can give you or treat you with that can garauntee you get better (and I say this with all the love in my heart, but please don't suggest alternative medicine or diets to me...please). You can do this and that and just cross your fingers and pray it works, and if it doesn't work and your tumors aren't under control you die. So when I say I just skip to the end, that's what I mean. And that what makes your head spin, and takes you into dark places in your mind that your are REALLY tired of going to.

Then I'm thinking, well maybe I just need more chemo or whatever, and guess what? Then I get to watch my children and husband suffer while I walk around like a warmed over corpse. Yippeee!! (heavy on the sarcasm here) Like I said-wasn't feeling so "positive."

So I had my scans on Monday the 20th of March and saw Dr. Moriarty that Wednesday.  The report had not come in yet. That means no report-no info-no knowledge this equals Karen having a mental breakdown.  I thought my whole body was going to crack in half. As if I was a statue and someone took a chisel at the top of my head, slammed it down and I split right down the middle.

Fortunatley I had the CD with the scan on it so Dr. Moriarty was able to review it with Fran and I. He sat with us for at least 20-30 minutes going over it with us. He felt that barring anything the interventional radiologist Dr. Nosher saw, he didn't see anything outstanding.

In addition, my CEA numbers also went back down. Okay, starting to breathe. The top of my shoulders which had been fused with stress to the bottom of my jawbone for the last 3 weeks started to loosen up a bit.  For me though, I NEEDED THAT REPORT!!! I know that anyone with cancer reading this knows where I am coming from.  That Friday, the lovely Kathy called me. I was in the food store.

Kathy said the they had the report and on the report it was stated "no evidence of disease." You see, that was in the actual report. Kathy told me she had to read it over a few times to make sure that's what it said before she called me. I was shaking like a leaf and my knees felt like jelly.

Now I have been lucky for months now. My scans for the past year have been very good. The reports have stated, "continuous improvement," "no new growth." That in itself is incredible news.
But for it to say no evidence of disease??? It's winning a billion dollars (tax free) in the lottery except exponentially far better.

Now after reading the last post in December one might say "yes well you were already NED right?" But the last report stated in general terms things look good. But there wasn't any mention that there was no evidence of disease. That has never been in a report of mine-not ever.

To put it in even greater perspective, I have not had chemo since August of 2010. I have not had a procedure done or treatment of any kind since October of 2010. For nothing to grow in that me, its astounding.  I am lucky, blessed, and cannot even begin to articulate the depths of my gratitude.

Every day I am grateful. I am grateful each morning when I get up. I am grateful when the laundry room is overflowing with laundry, I am grateful when one of the kids is giving a passionate speech about how homework is mean for kids to do and they will never ever get it done. I am grateful for cleaning the bathroom toilets. I am grateful  for every mundane, ordinary thing in life, because guess what, I am alive to live it.

You see I am here. Everyday that I get to wake up and be present in my life is a gift. I am not planning to travel the world, climb Mount Everest, or jump out of a plane. I just want a beautiful, sweet, ordinary life growing up and growing old with my family. I am very blessed to be given that chance right now. I don't know how long the cancer will stay away, a few months, a few years, who knows? But right now I have been given a rare gift in the stage 4 cancer world of being quasi well.

I do have survivor guilt and getting-well guilt for sure. And at times it gives me pause, and I debate wether to publish the next blog post.  But that's really just me thinking about what other people would think of me and has nothing to do with helping and informing people, which is supposed to be the point of this blog. So I digress...

Deeply, deeply I thank you for all the prayers, years and years have past, and people still come up to me with the greatest compassion in their eyes and tell me that they are still praying for me. Woah. Blows me away and I humbly thank you . I do continue to pray for all those suffering and all those who I know and don't know who pray for me, so hopefully, the power of many...

Again thank you everyone. Thank you. Lets continue to pray for each other. We all need Jesus in our lives. I don't think it means we always feel like we want to. But for myself when I try to do it on my own, I end up in a muddled mess.

Thank you for all the support for reading this blog. Take care of your health. Get your mammograms, get your colonosopies, if its scary-so what. That just means its something that's scary. It's just an emotion and won't hurt you. But not doing these tests can also kill you. Live in the present, prevent illness where you can, and pray.

Much love to you all,


Karen Stein-Townsend said...

Oh, dearest Karen! My tears are flowing now with great happiness. You have held such a dear place in our hearts since we first met you as a teenager, and the joy I feel is pretty much equal to what I'd feel for one of my kids. God is good, and has certainly held you in the palm of His hand. Blessings to you and your dear family, and much love from Rob and me.

Anonymous said...

NED rocks.
And say it so well. That feeling, that feeling when the doc calls, or you are standing there waiting to see the images come up on the screen...
sigh. I am so happy for you, and so grateful that you keep things so real (and you are way nicer than I am, the next person who gives G a thing about how barley supplements can cure her is going to get my fist upside their head, which I try to mean with love...alas)...thankyou for letting us walk at least near this road with you...and yay for NED.

Kristin & the Cams crew

Cancer Support Group said...

That's great, everyone salute you for this bravery.. Best of luck..