"This disease has taken things from me, but it can’t take away the spirit that God put inside of me, the core of who I am as long as I choose to nurture that side of myself." Sara Frankl
I return to Sara's words over and over again. What I love the most about having these words in a book? Its right at my fingertips- and I love "holding" her words. I've carried them in my heart for so long, and now they've sprung to new life through the pages of her book. The winner of my Choose Joy book giveaway is...
Please email me with your full name and mailing address at vwestra14 (at) gmail (dot) com! I will place the order and get it mailed off to you as soon as I can!!
Our schedule has been packed with all kinds of events surrounding hockey- from providing a team meal, to making food for the hospitality suite, to traveling with the boys. We just seem to always be somewhere between Roger Maris (cancer treatment center) and a hockey arena.
Last week I met with Dr. Panwalkar for the results of my PET scan and brain MRI.
While I had already been given a copy of the MRI test results through my online medical chart system, I always want to be sure that my interpretation is in line with Dr. Panwalkar's. So he pulled the scan up and reiterated that he also thought there were no changes in the two spots in my brain- no growth, and no new spots appearing either. Whew.
So then we turned to the PET scan. He loaded the previous scan from 3 months ago, side by side with the one from a couple of weeks ago. Then started making sure we were looking at the same "slice" on either side.
He clicked his way through, what was essentially a black and white scan. Some of the white areas are scar tissue that has formed from old radiation treatment, and surgical scars. So as we paired the words of the report from the radiologist, to what we saw in the scans, over and over again we read the words, "no activity." Meaning that no yellow was showing up which indicates active cancer.
So Dr. Panwalkar smiled and said, "it looks good."
He then examined me and asked how the side effects were going.
But I was still processing the scan results.
"So would you call my scan results, stable?" I ask him. "How do I describe this to others?"
He leans back in his chair, then turns and faces me. He is slowly shaking his head side to side, smiling, and says "its rare when we are dealing with stage iv, but essentially you are have no evidence of disease, (NED) or we could say you are in remission. "
Instantly I'm flashing back, when Dr. P mentions good ole Mr. NED, the dance partner I've longed to call my partner... from a post long ago...
"Really… he is just a big tease. That Mr. NED that just subtly hints that he might be tapping me on the shoulder. I've longed to dance with him, its true. To have him fully envelope me in his safe and secure arms, if only for the briefest of spins around the dance-room floor.
Mr. NED, or officially, "No Evidence of Disease" is what so many of us Stage 4 Breast Cancer Survivors hope to achieve one day. Remission is rare- so rare- and when the evidence of cancer is gone, its called "no evidence of disease," because its often a brief interlude. A few weeks may pass, a few months it seems, and then cancer asserts itself again. This is the nature of Stage 4 disease. "
As I snap back to the present, I ask about my tumor markers. "Well they're rising. So we know you have cancer cells circulating, and we'll keep a close watch like usual."
"And treatment?" I ask.
"Yes, we'll continue on with the same treatment for awhile."
And this is when Superman swoops in to rescue me. He tells Dr. Panwalkar about the rash I have all over my arm. And the diarrhea that plagues me. "Not much quality to her life when she is tied to the bathroom, and then the bedroom for long stretches from feeling so weak and depleted."
So Dr. P suggests reducing the dose of two of the drugs.
I nod in agreement. Still trying to absorb all the news.
We've concluded our appointment and I say to Dr. P, "It'll be 5 years in the middle of March..." Again he smiles, and says in the most confident manner, "then we'll start on getting the next 5 after that..."
What I'm really choosing? Is to believe, that prayers have been answered. Amen.