5 Years – Chemo Round 12 and Follow Up

**Click here to start reading from the beginning of my cancer journey.**

**Click here to start reading about my experience with chemotherapy from round 1.**

Round 12

Now, you would think that going in to round 12 I would be ecstatic. Well, that’s what I thought too. But that’s not what happened.

I woke up on Monday feeling very anxious. I couldn’t pin point why I was anxious. I went through my “normal chemo prep” but kept getting more and more anxious. I didn’t say anything to the nurses when I went for my bloodwork because I thought I was just being crazy and it would pass. But by mid-afternoon, I knew I needed help.

I texted the oncology nurse, my friend. I asked her if it was normal to feel anxious at this stage. I mean, I had gone through 11 rounds of chemotherapy after a major surgery. I knew what to expect going into round 12. I had also had a previous PET scan and colonoscopy, so I wasn’t worried about that. But what was bothering me.

My nurse text back that what I was feeling was normal. Yes, I had gone through surgery and 11 rounds of chemo. I had made it through. But because of how rushed everything had been at the beginning, I hadn’t had time to process what I was going through or what was going to happen. Over the past several months, chemo had become my life…my normal. Now, I was heading into my last round of chemo and my “normal” was coming to an end. The difference…this time I KNEW it was coming.

She asked me if I wanted her to call me in some anxiety meds. I declined. She told me she could do better than meds…she would pray for me. She reminded me that God was in control. He had carried me through 11 rounds of chemotherapy and my colon resection. He wasn’t about to leave me now that I was at the end.

After thinking about what she said and spending some time in prayer, I realized she was right. Back in March, Bubba had been 7 months old. Now, he was almost 14 months old. He had changed. His needs, wants, abilities, desires, personality…everything about him was changing. I had changed. I had matured in my walk with gone. I had grown closer to God and to my husband. I had literally looked death in the face and lived through it.

But now, this “normal” was going to change. I was actually going to BE normal. I didn’t have to schedule my life around chemotherapy treatments or prep my house based on who was coming to help me for the week. I wasn’t going to need help after this week.

The nurse called me that evening. She told me the plan for next week…the week after round 12. My colonoscopy had been moved to Monday and my PET scan was scheduled for Tuesday. They didn’t want me cleansing for a scope the day of the PET scan, which makes sense now. So, Sunday, I would cleanse; Monday, I would have a colonoscopy; Tuesday, I would have a PET scan; Wednesday, I would have my port removed, assuming the scope and scan came back “clean”. Sounded like a plan to me!

My aunt was coming for Round 12. She got there on Monday afternoon and spent the evening with us. My best friend from church took me to my last round of chemo. I got sicker quicker this time, so we just sat in silence most of the time. She took me home when my pump was connected.

Honestly, I remember NOTHING from Tuesday, Wednesday, and most of Thursday of round 12. I remember being overjoyed to get my pump taken off for the last time, to have my port flushed for the last time. But I was so tired. My body had taken all it could bear. I literally crawled back into bed after getting my port taken off and slept until dinner. Then I slept until Friday morning.

My aunt had to leave on Friday. She had to drive home to meet up with my uncle and grandparents to drive to Myrtle Beach for my cousin’s wedding, which I obviously had to miss. I remember she left, but I don’t remember much else.

I know my mother-in-law came on Friday. Since I was so sick and exhausted, we knew we’d need more help than usual for the weekend. We were right. I spent all weekend in bed, simply resting. It was too much to even lay on the couch.

Sunday, I cleansed for my scope. Monday I had my scope. Praise God it was clean!

Tuesday, I headed to the hospital for the PET scan. The ride down wasn’t bad. But the prep for the scan, the scan itself, and the drive home were awful. I hate PET scans. I would rather have a scope than a PET scan. But it was worth it…it was CLEAN! We were cleared for port removal!

Wednesday, I headed to the hospital for the port removal…HALLELUJAH!  That was one of the best surgeries EVER! I was so thankful to have that device out of my chest. The surgeon was able to use the same incision to remove the port that he had used to insert the port…one less scar for me.

After some minor complications from the medications, I felt like a new person. I could sleep on either side…or my stomach!  I could hold my baby on my lap and he could lay his head on my chest without hurting either of us. The little things really started to add up.

Follow-up

Later in October, I went to a genetic counselor as recommended by the oncologist. We wanted to see if I had a gene mutation that had led to my cancer since I had no family history of cancer. It turns out my genes are fine…I’m just “unlucky” according to the genetic counselor. This was a relief because it meant we wouldn’t have to be as concerned about Bubba. BUT, he would still need to start getting colonoscopies at age 14.

You see, based on the size and stage of my cancer, we (various doctors and us) believe that I “got” cancer when I was 18 years old. That means I “had” cancer for 10 years, unknowingly. The rule of thumb with colon cancer is that future generations need to start having scopes 5 years before I “got” it. Bubba will have to get a scope between the ages of 10-15…we decided 14 would be a good time to start, unless he starts having problems beforehand.

When November rolled around, we finally took Bubba for his 1 year/12 month pictures…he was 15 months old. Better late than never, right?

Also in November, my neuropathy had dissipated enough that I was able to take back over as church pianist, something I had had to give up during round 4. We were also able to get back to doing weekly youth group on Wednesday nights and monthly activities with the youth.

Life was back to “normal”…whatever that means. 😉

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