Cancer sucks, but the treatment sucks worse.

Well, as most of you who will be reading this already know, the midway PET scan came back “essentially normal”. After interrogating my oncologist, I found out that essentially means all gone. Great news. For anyone not familiar, a PET scan is sorta like a MRI. It can see cancer cells by their metabolic activity. So if it shows you’re clear, then you’re clear.

It’s hard to believe how quickly this has all gone. I’m still trying to deal with the initial diagnosis. Stage 4, kidneys, adrenal glands, pancreas, great vessels, bones, chest, you get the idea. Everywhere. My first thought after hearing the diagnosis was “I’m going to beat this”. Despite the numbers I saw on the internet (61% survival rate, people 21-39 have a higher mortality than any other group) and the path report, my attitude was “I am one of one. The only numbers that matter are mine. 100% cure or 100% dead”. And there really wasn’t much in between. I’d love to say it was some sort of bravery in the face of death or something heroic, but it was more like stubborn denial. I just wasn’t ready to accept it. Probably still not ready to accept it. I haven’t had any interest in reading about my condition, researching different treatment modalities, modifying my lifestyle radically (like eating raw veggies or drinking micro-filtered water), or any other stuff like that. Sounds like denial to me. And yet here I am, sitting at the verge of 100% success. Feels weird.

You read about people making these huge life changes after being diagnosed with cancer (or getting some other horrible news). The only thing I’ve tried to do is be nicer to my family and enjoy their company more. I’ve probably failed 90% of the time. I won’t lie, chemo makes me a real ass sometimes. Some miracles take time right? The other side effect is “chemo brain”. Ever wake up and feel like you can’t shake the cobwebs out? That’s chemo brain, 24/7. So I probably have made some major decision and I just don’t remember it. Maybe I should start writing stuff down. Chemo brain is also the reason I haven’t been blogging. It has been difficult to organize my thoughts enough to put something coherent down. Regardless, I’ll soon be out of an excuse. My hair will grow back, I’ll hopefully lose the extra weight steroids have put on me, my brain will clear up…and life will move on. All I can do is hope the lessons I’ve learned during this experience stay with me longer than the side effects do.

Well enough whining. How about the positive stuff? I have been back on the road running. I have stretched my distances back up to ~ 3 miles per run. It has been very inconsistent, I generally don’t run for the first 6-8 days post chemo and then try to catch up for the following 10 days. Not exactly a Runner’s World approved training plan. I’m sure after March 22 (last chemo day), I can get back on track. The other really positive thing has been San Diego. We like it here. A lot. The weather is spectacular, the hospital has fulfilled everything we’ve needed, and all of the peripheral stuff is great too (schools, housing, etc). I’m glad we decided to come here. Not sure I would have been doing as well if we would have gone to Portsmouth or Bethesda. Certainly wouldn’t have been wearing shorts every day in January. And it’s a good thing we like it because the Navy is telling me I’ll be here pretty much until the end of time, or retirement, whichever comes first. That will be good. Continuity of care and Hannah can finish high school here. Yeah, high school.

So there you have it. My brain on chemo. Not pretty folks, not pretty. Thanks for making it this far. And speaking of, I do appreciate all of the support from my friends and family. There is no way I’d be here without all of you. I think about just about everyone of you guys everyday. Thank you. Till next time.

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