Three years ago today, on February 5, 2010, I saw a 6.5 cm mass on the CT scan of my abdomen and knew that my life was suddenly changed. Cancer. No warning, no prep. Just wham, down for the count.
The months of chemo, surgeries, sweat, tears and trips to Houston and the fantastic folks at MD Anderson are a blur from this vantage point. (I do have a 6-month check-up in April.)
Today, I’m much more at ease cancer-wise than at this time last year or two years ago. I’m so very thankful to still be here! I am a three-year cancer survivor. There was a time that I didn’t think I’d be here to say that.
Actually, the date I prefer to celebrate is November 30, 2010 – my new “birthday” – the day I had surgery to remove a chemo-pounded DEAD tumor and I was declared to have “no evidence of disease.”
So, it’s been “NED” for a little over two years now. November 30 seems just as important a date to remember and a little more upbeat, too! I am so grateful to be on the planet, and have the opportunity to deal with even mundane stuff like homework wrangling and laundry.
Next up on my plate? Deciding on a treatment plan for my AVM, which is now a riskier beast after my small hemorrhage last September. For 40+ years, the AVM sat dormant (no bleeds) and “watchful waiting” was the best course of action.
Now, after the bleed in September, the chance of a future bleed is higher. After laying low and recovering for a while, I spoke with six rock-star neurosurgeons about their recommended approaches, which clump into three options:
- Embolization plus invasive surgery now to remove the AVM.
- Stereotactic radiosurgery (gamma knife or hypo-fractionated) to slowly close off the vesssels plus invasive surgery in 4-5 years.
- Continue to wait and watch.
Each approach is mixed with risk , including “wait and watch.” After collecting the various opinions, I was pretty overwhelmed. Each time I consulted with a doctor, their approach seemed like the best one. So after my last doctor visit in early January, I decided that I would have a cooling off period to sort it all out.
In the meantime, I’m glad to celebrate any milestone I can get!