The First Anniversary

Posted on April 12, 2013. Filed under: Cancer, Just fun! | Tags: , , , |

I couldn’t let this day go by without acknowledging that it’s been one year since I was diagnosed with leukemia—and I’m still alive. What a trip! In some ways it seems like yesterday and in other ways it seems like forever. Either way, I’m happy to have so much wonderful support from everyone.images

So, I’m now swallowing 10+ pills a day for one week each month until November. That seems like a long time, but I have to deal with it. Since it seems the side effects are getting worse, I was wondering if the effects of the drug are cumulative. I was also wondering how long they might linger. Seems like normal questions, right. Well, until yesterday, I didn’t really want to know the answer because it might be discouraging.

That reminds me of a phenomena: When a woman bursting with pregnancy asks me when I think she’ll finally pop, which on occasion happens, I tell her that labor comes when your desire to “get it over with” outweighs your fear of “getting it over with.” The same is true in the search for answers to medial questions. I will search for answers when the anxiety of bad possibilities is greater than the worst news. And, such was my week.

So, with the fear that by November my fatigue will hit slacker heights, I figured that I was ready for some information. The logical response of course it to just ask Dr. G. But the benevolent Dr. G tends to sugarcoat truths to avoid the side effect of causing freak-outs. In fact, if Dr. G had to tell a patient they were terminal, I’m pretty sure it would sound like this: “There may be nothing we can do for you, but it’s good to know that many patients find resting in peace to be an enjoyable and rewarding experience. Look at it this way—no more worries about that nasty health insurance deductible.

I digress. Instead of asking Dr. G., I hopped on the Internet and sent out a few emails. I couldn’t confirm or dismiss the notion of cumulative effects, but I found a lot of side effects that would explain some of the lesser effects I’ve experienced. Sadly, nothing was really encouraging and I’m pretty sure the real answer is that “everyone is different.”

Meanwhile, I’ve had a wicked sinus infection that has migrated to my throat. How lame is that? It’s like surviving a tornado and breaking your leg in the rubble. Oh well. It’s hard to take a sinus infection seriously anymore except I can’t tell if I feel like crap from the infection or the drugs.

Here’s to me being able to bounce back with gusto.

Fun with Pharmacists

After a zillion trips to Target pharmacy, I want to think the people behind the counter can recognize me…sorta. Of course, HIPPA would argue otherwise, but come on, there’s no reason to pretend I’m a new customer.  Nevertheless, we have fun.

But that’s not my pharmacy story. My story begins with the Cadbury egg I purchased last week.  While checking out my items, along with a prescription, at the pharmacy, the tech said, “Mmmmm, a Cadbury egg. Only one?”

Pharmacy mug“Yes, only one,” I replied.

“But they’re on sale and they’re so good!” she challenged.

“That’s why I just want one.”

She laughed and said, “I couldn’t get just one.”

“I understand but I ONLY WANT ONE,” I stated with a knowing smile and emphasis.

“Easter candy is WAY better than Halloween candy,” chimed in the pharmacist behind the counter who was looking down as he took pills out of a big bottle and put them in a little bottle.

“I agree and I still only want one,” I said as I signed the box. “I don’t get you guys. There you are, surrounded by every type of drug anyone could want and you’re all drooling over my Cadbury egg.”

They laughed.

* * *

I usually try not to make a whole post about health issues. It’s like listening to that table of old people next to you in the diner. However, since is the anniversary of it all, I thought you might let me get away with it.

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6 Responses to “The First Anniversary”

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Love You xoxoxox

Well, Emily, well done! When I first heard about your diagnosis, I was told that it was an extremely aggressive form of leukemia and that many people diagnosed with it were dead within 4 months. I am so happy to know that you are still walking among the living and this blog has been a great testimony to your hard work, the process, the angst, the unknown and your wonderful sense of humor. You should never apologize for what you post here. This is your turf and if we are following you, it is because we are interested. I have learned a lot through your experience (although I am sure that it is nothing like actually going through it) and am amazed at what you have accomplished even with this burden.

Any of us can go at any time for so many reasons, but when there is a medical challenge and you become a guinea pig with unknown results, it takes on a different color. All of us should be living as if it were the last day of our lives or something along those lines, making things meaningful, doing what makes us feel whole…. You have been a warrior and I applaud you for it! I know that it’s not easy… I rejoice in your life, in Scott’s, in my own and in all of those whom we love and hold dear. We may or may not have a scientific prognosis, but one thing is certain: all of our days are numbered. I can only hope to use mine as you have used yours, with gusto for life, love for the other, a healthy sense of self, appreciation for the arts, making a mark, and at least in my case, seeking Grace.

Happy Anniversary! Woo hoo!

Thanks for the love, you guys. 🙂

What she said!!!! (Thanks Rayela, I completely agree) 🙂

Hi Emily, Just think come this Fall, you’ll be finished with the ATRA. That is so great! If my blood test at the end of the month doesn’t show any leukemia cells, I will begin my 1 week/month year of ATRA for maintenance. I’ll let you know if I notice cumulative effects. My oncologist tends to sugarcoat things like side effects as well (must be a professional trait). I’ll let you know if I notice anything. For now, here’s to one year down, 7 months to go…and many more happy years to enjoy!

Jackie, thanks so much for stopping by to say “hi.” Definitely keep me posted. there’s not a lot of information out there, so it’s good that we can all share what we know. certainly don’t let me put ideas in your head for your maintenance. Like they say, we’re all the different..and making it through the first couple months is the big victory.


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    A writer and cancer survivor chronicles her renewed dedication to art and words..

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