I just got home from my office visit with Dr. Fekrazad. He was all smiles as he waltzed into the exam room with a copy of my pathology report from the surgery. His P.A. Cynthia was right behind him with a big grin, too. Silly me, I thought they were just happy to see me doing so well only 12 days after major surgery. It actually took me quite a while before I understood why they were so gleeful. But the phenomenal news eventually landed on me: There’s no evidence of cancer and no need for more chemotherapy!
Perhaps I’m just dense at various times, but as he was discussing the details of the pathology report with me, I was just certain he was about to drop the bomb that I needed another round of chemo. I had even shed some tears this morning right before heading out the door for the appointment because I was so wrapped up in anticipation of hearing those words. So, when he had me follow him out of the exam room and into his office so we could all look at some statistics on his computer, I became really confused!
He pulled up a screen and plugged in some figures pertaining to me (age, sex, depth of cancer invasion [T2], lymph node involvement [N0], histologic grade [gr. 3], etc.) and two graphs appeared indicating the percentage of patients with my exact circumstances who relapse within five years. One graph was for patients who had no additional chemotherapy and the other was for patients who had additional chemotherapy. The figures for both graphs were identical! The bottom line was: there is a 10% chance of recurrence over the next five years whether or not I have more chemotherapy. Another screen showed a 7% chance of mortality (death) within five years, again whether or not I do more chemo. Sobering info, yes, but I finally understood: the pathology report was saying my prognosis is as good as it can possibly be. I have about the same chance of dying from a recurrence of cancer during the next five years as I do of dying from any other cause! I sat there staring at the computer screen in stunned silence. Then, Dr. Fekrazad hugged me and said, “Go celebrate! Have some champagne tonight! I’ll see you again in 3 months!”
As I prepared to leave the cancer center, I stopped and hugged everyone I saw! Each nurse, each healthcare worker, each doctor I saw who had helped get me to this day got a big hug and a tearful smile. I am so grateful for the exceptional care I’ve received over the past six months. And I know in my heart that every one of you has also contributed to my healing – through your positive thoughts and prayers, visits, food preparation, hand-holding, and every other form of love you offered. So, here’s a virtual big hug and tearful smile for each of you! Thank you! Thank you!
Time to Celebrate!
I’m going to take Dr. Fekrazad’s final orders very seriously and crack open that bottle of champagne this evening. I’ll be lifting a glass to my health and then to all of you for your love and support. Join me in spirit or in reality if you will.
Wonderful news aside, we’re not done yet! I have follow-up visits with Dr. Brown and I’ll be getting an ultrasound to see if the blood clots in my right arm are gone. When I get that all clear, they’ll finally remove the port-a-cath from my chest. Plus, I’m still adjusting to the colostomy experience and will have more to say about that very soon. So, stay tuned for further blog posts over the coming weeks…you see, you can’t get rid of me that easily!
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