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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

T.A.F. - And The Results Are.....

"An Arrow can only be shot by pulling it backwards. So when life is dragging you back with difficulties, it means that its going to launch you into something great. So just focus and keep aiming."

The arrow has been my symbol of hope for this adventure. This speed bump has caused me to sit back, slow down, re-evaluate, and get excited. Cancer was a set back, a HUGE, sucky one. But, it put me on the launching pad to shoot forward with the rest of my life.

Sunday night, I rolled around aimlessly in bed, for hours. I couldn't sleep. I knew what Monday morning brought. 6 am... 7am... 8am... the last time check I remember was 9am. My mum woke me up at quarter to twelve and I laid in bed cursing the world. It was cold, and I didn't want to get out of bed. I finally got up, threw some real clothes on (you know as opposed to fake ones) and sat back in bed. Going through my pharmacy of medications, I created my cocktail. 1 Perc, 1 xanax, 1 Valium, 1 Ativan, 1 Codeine. Ok this should do it I thought. My mum's best friend K was visiting in town and so we got in the car and were out. I warned her, this could get interesting.
We stopped at Wawa
"Um are you able to go into Wawa?"
My mum asked. In my most offended tone-
"Mom, this stuff hasn't even touched me."
I got my biscuit (OMG I miss Tim Hortons) and we were really off. My tolerance is really too high.

We got to the hospital and didn't have to wait long in the waiting room. A, the nurse, took me back to get my vital signs and all I was excited about was the fact my weight had stayed the same. Hey, its the small victories Then off to the cow oven mitts room.

I stripped, knee socks matching the cow mitts which very much excited me. Sheet on top and ready to wait for the doc. I quickly popped a dilaudid while on the table, my anxiety was rising faster than the mercury in a thermometer in a heat wave.

So, the meds and why I knew I needed to be sedated. If all went well today, Dr. D was going to remove the "thing" inside me. Said thing is a device that was surgically implanted to help Dr. D2 during the high dose radiation. The device helped him to guide the tools that would be inserted to get the radiation beam to go exactly where he needed it too, and to help protect the healthy surrounding tissue. It was the procedure that brought on tears each time because it was so painful and I couldn't wait to get this thing out. However, it had been surgically implanted, so I didn't expect its removal to be a piece of cake either.

Dr. D came in and got the speculum ready. It was SO painful for him to insert. This was already not going well. Any woman who has had to visit her OB/GYN knows it can be uncomfortable and awkward but painful shouldn't be on that list of adjectives. I gripped my hands together and closed my eyes and tried to breathe.
I didn't see the scissors, but hearing them, inside your lady bits, its scary as hell! They had to cut the stitches and I could hear each slice of the scissor. I kept trying to picture the Eiffle Tower with each breath, Black Christian Louboutin pumps and a sturdy gentleman and I kissing underneath France's beloved structure. It was the first image that came to mind and I kept going back to it, every time I thought I was going to faint from the sound of a slice.

I can't even describe anyone else in the room because I was on mental breathing duty. There were four or five stitches and I don't know how I wasn't shaking. Maybe I was. Finally once the stitches were cut he gently pulled out the little thing. (Which in reality wasn't that little). Normally I would have taken a pic, but it wasn't something I wanted to remember. I was tender and it hurt like hell. When everything was out he did his exam and the tiniest of movements and touches hurt. (This is not going to be good for my impending sex life.)
"You have had a complete response to the treatment."
Wait whAAAAAT? It was so refreshing to hear. It was what I needed to hear. It was to be completely honest, not what I was expecting to hear.

Dr. D pulled my parents aside after my first surgery months ago. The prognosis wasn't good and this was going to be one hell of a challenge.


We went in his office to discuss and FINALLY the words I had been waiting to hear, had been said, again.
"You have had a complete response to the treatment!"
There were lots of questions but as per Courtney
"Um so when do I get to start with the vibrators and this whole vaginal dilation thing?"
- 4 weeks. UGH, the one thing I was excited about, but all good things are worth waiting for. As we were walking out of his office Dr. D said
"I was really surprised at how well you handled the procedure."
To which I confidently responded
"I'm not going lie, I'm slightly sedated."
With a smile he returned with a quick
"Thought so."

Now, am I out of the gate yet, no. BUT most likely YES! In four weeks I have to have a PET scan to check my lymph nodes. I have to wait the four weeks because all of the radiation and treatment will have caused inflammation that could lead to a false positive. It's too intense and expensive a scan to just do on a whim.
I will have one follow up appointment after that and then be done! DONE! DONE DONE DONE! (Until my next check up.)

SO where does this leave me. For the next two years I have to have a check up every three months. If there is the slightest of symptoms that something could be wrong, I have to high tail it to a doc.
HELLO PARANOIA- nice to meet you, I think we're going to be the best of friends.
After those two years, I have to have a check up every 6 months for 5 years. I have to continue hormone replacement therapy as well but that didn't surprise me. SO basically, now lots of doctors appointments for the next few years, again.

In the next four weeks we will check as well to make sure the leukemia wasn't brought on by the radiation. In the mean time and for now.

"Hey cancer- Fuck you, I WIN!"

The car ride home was a blur. I was stoned out of my mind. (Thanks meds for kicking in too usual.) I remember blabbering on about salsa. We even stopped and got some. I remember passing out in the car (because I remember being woken up.) As we were walking in the door I stopped and stared at the clouds-
"Its going to snow."
Everyone was like yea ok whatever. (It snowed this morning- boom stoned weather predictions!) I tackled my sister's bff J when I walked through the door, he wasn't mad, in the slightest. I spilled vanilla scented oil all over my uggs which are not brand new, but look brand new. Just Peachy. I inhaled a quesadilla like it was my day job. I texted a few people (Oh lord I'm sorry for those conversations I can only imagine.) I had my iv fluids put in, I passed out. I woke up, had a quick skype date with one of the besties M, and then passed right back out. Writing this hasn't been easy because I'm having a drug binge hangover. But honestly, YAY! NO more painful $#!%. Or at least painful to the point of needing to be incoherent.

So its done. I did it. I'm praying that its done for good. That this will never happen to me again. Thanks for the offer but I'm completely content with 4 times. I'm ok with follow ups and check ups because I'm alive and rocking it. I still have some major recovery to go through but did I mention I did it! I've got this. As someone close to me says I'm ... no he and I BOTH are TAF! - Tough. As. F***!

SO now, reintegration back to normalcy begins! I'm ready to pull a Katniss and shoot this arrow forward that is my life! BOOM!


  1. Courtney:

    "Complete response" - that's absolutely terrific news! I'm so happy for you! I was at a charity hockey tournament with your dad last week and we were talking about your writing (which is excellent) and arranging a welcome party when you get back to P-town. So, Arrow, rest, relax and write while you continue your flight.

    John from Peterborough

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