March 1, 2011
So much has happened since my first CANCER in your face entry on Feb. 11th. Let me begin by saying yesterday was most likely the most surreal day of my life. No one should ever have to live this sad and scary slice of life; on the other hand, perhaps for some it would be helpful and inspiring!
Twelve hours of conversations with MDA employees, nurses and Jewish volunteers with mandel bread; filling out forms and signing my name probably 30 times; blood tests (22 vials of my blood just to get the day started); tissue samples; physical exams; IV’s; chest X-rays; CT scans (and just to be clear they were contrast scans which means I drank two yummy 24-ounce bottles of Mocha Chino Barium shitÂ prep. I was lucky today there were 5 flavors on the menu. I snobbishly turned my nose up at banana, berry, plain, vanilla. I kept seeing Starbucks in my future. You know, ‘Mochachino.” Oh, screw that idea! Wishful thinking!); Top it all off with a “Bottoms Up.” (A lovely little tube in my tush just to be sure everything was illuminated for the CT Scan). This all began at 7 a.m. and ended around 8 p.m.
Around 3 a.m. I was jolted from a deep sleep dry heaving. Perhaps from all the iodine they pumped into my body for the CT scan. Or perhaps it was my body’s reaction to listening to the frightening, sad, awful stories of 16 very brave people with the worst types of cancer: anal, rectal, colon, lung, pancreatic. All in stages 3 to 4. I sat with them for two hours drinking yuck waiting for my CT scan. I was terrified by them. I didn’t want to look at their faces or hear their voices. I so desperately didn’t want to be like them, or part of their little group. Yet, I hurt deeply inside for them – barely knowing or understanding the depth of their pain and suffering.
I was seated in the corner lazy boy chair with my hospital greens and barium with a straw bottle next to a wonderful man with stage 10 Colon cancer. He had reached the end of the line for treatment. I was the “Newby” for the night and they all knew it! There was nothing left for MDA to do for him, so he has turned to apricot seeds and turmeric and the like. He is not ready or willing to die! Â When he asked me about my prognosis, everyone were all ears. I could only utter, “I have no idea,” and gave my new friend, who I will never see again, a big hug and wished him well.
I finally began to relax-as I really had no choice but to slowly assimilate, relate, make eye contact with the most frightening faces I’ve ever witnessed. I guess I really do live a sheltered life and I like to think I have really lived!
I went into the CT machine with tubes and IV’s set. A cold, impersonal place to be. Tears rolled down my face but not for me. Tears for the 16 people fighting for their life, those I left behind.
P.S. I left Doc Keatings office today with the best possible news.
1- I have CLL Cancer (Aggressive Gene) Oh Yay!
2- my scans and x-rays looked good – no worries!
3- Blood test were all in good range
4- no evidence of enlarge nodes or spleen- thank-god!
5- a little nothing spot at the bottom of my lung
6- I do not need treatment at this time and Dr. Keating expects it to remain this way for a good long while!
7- blood tests every 3 months and revisit him in one year
8- I am now part of a CLL study. MDA will contact me for new treatments or a cure!
9- Hoping this cancer remains quiet for the next 3-5 years when Dr. Keating and his team expect to have a cure for CLL- Hmmmm
10- He loved my new Nike Gym Shoes
11- A few more blood test results in ten days. The Zap 70 & gene study will determine exact type and predictors of CLL Cancer Cells. (I think; not really certain of anything.)
12- I have been ordered to continue on with my life as planned, take very good care of my heart, body and soul, eat well, rest well, keep stress low and well managed, exercise (no problem) and enjoy each day! He added I should stay away from sick people and don’t get Shingles-ever. Ok, I’ll work on that!
Dr. Keating is a blessing; along with the wonderful caring nurses and many employees at MDA. Â I have been blessed to be his patient. This has been hard on Steve, such a mench that husband of mine! I’m so lucky to have him by my side. I am fortunate for the wonderful, loving family and friends in my life. I have to admit, Monni and I had some great laughs at Steve’s expense…of course! He asked every doctor if it would be okay for me to have sugar. Go figure! He’s just so damn funny; yet, still a pain in my ass! I love the man.
One last note: The bellman at The St. Regis gave me a big hug when I returned from MDA this morning. He said, “You are damn lucky girl to walk out of that place with your prognosis! Damn lucky!”
To read more on Allison’s Cancer journey, check out Cancer In Your Face.
Â© 2011 Copyright Â Allison Stuart Kaplan Â www.Askinyourface.com LLC