You know how when you miss a turn that your Tom Tom or Garmin tells you to take, the device, after giving up on you, says it’s “re-routing?” That’s me now. My October was beautifully laid out with a race for the Ullman Foundation in Maryland, a trip to watch friends race Kona, my Livestrong weekend in Austin, and an Ironman relay for PPD and clinical trials in Wilmington. All (except for Austin) are on the proverbial chopping block now, as I go in to the next phase of Cancer II. They say the best way to make God laugh is to make plans. I’ll try to salvage what I can.
I have a lot more information about what’s happenened and what’s coming up. I had what’s called a Thymic Carcinoma. It’s a rare, fast-growing cancer of the Thymus gland, which sits right behind the breast bone. Usually, it’s not diagnosed until it’s already spread to the lungs, heart, or other places, because it can be fairly symptomless. I was blessed, as my oncologist said, that I get regular MRI’s. My outlook would have been much worse if this had been discovered months from now.
The surgeon was able to achieve clean margins around the tumor; that means no cancer cells between the tumor and the surgical cut (or beyond, hopefully). Also, there was no lymph node involvement. That is huge as well. It means the cancer, even though it seems big (8cm) was found early.
I feel pretty good. I’m still a little short of breath, which I suppose makes sense, since Dr. Boyer collapsed a lung to get to the mass. I’m interested to see how I feel at elevation, in Park City.. And I have these weird stabbing pains on the surgery side, as the numbness from the nerves wears off. That’s a good thing, though . It means I’ll get feeling back. I never did get all the feeling back after my first cancer surgery 12 years ago. That was one of the hardest changes to get used to, actually. I’m also not supposed to pick up heavy things. But what’s heavy? Is Toonsis the cat heavy? I carried her around with no ill effects. The ever-evolving Brave New World.
Next on the agenda: I get treatment orders from my Orlando team for my Huntsman Cancer Institute team tomorrow. I’m anticipating about five weeks of radiation, which will bring fatigue. I’ll take it. I had been secretly and not so secretly dreading the possibility of chemotherapy again. I did worse than most with chemo. Those were dark days that I wouldn’t mind never repeating. Like Kelly, who was there every step of Cancer I, said yesterday, “This time seems easy.” And he is so right, so far.
So, what’s in my head and my heart right about now? I am a little dumbfounded that I could get a brand new cancer, 12 years later…. And a rare one at that. My oncologist says it’s not that unusual. Something inside me triggers the cancer. It makes me realize the beast could well raise its head again ( and I’ll have to chop it off again). I’m so thankful I have the ability to go back to my team in Orlando and get this taken care of quickly and effectively with my amazing support network of friends that rallied after a dozen years of lying dormant. I had another graphic lesson in the importance of taking control of your health by getting the screenings you’re supposed to get and not becoming complacent.
So here I go again, off into uncharted territory. Radiation is new for me. My beautiful fall has become a work in progress. But looking further ahead, climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro with Livestrong for the Survivor Summit is still very much on the agenda. It will mean more than ever now that I’ll be a two-time survivor. Maybe I should climb it twice. Live fearlessly.