Thursday, November 23, 2017

5 Years

Happy Thanksgiving!!  I hope today has been a day filled with love and happiness.  We have enjoyed a laid back day with way too much food accompanied by a lot of time together enjoying each other's company.  Just as the day should be - my favorite holiday!

On Tuesday I spent half the day at Vanderbilt for my five year check up.  Its a long story that has to do with Vandy's electronic health record transition which caused a bunch of issues with my scans, but I didn't find out until yesterday afternoon what the results were.  I saw Dr Keedy Tuesday morning.  Hard to believe I've been seeing her for nearly 6 years - in January it will be 6 years.  Her nurse, Liz, is like a friend after all this time.

As I sat in the "belly of the beast" as I call the Cancer Center check in area surrounded by people affected one way or another by cancer, I felt nothing but lucky.  There are a lot of reasons for that.  But, I couldn't help but feel sympathy for the "unscarred" people who looked so terrified - you could tell they were newly diagnosed and had no idea what was going on.  There were so many others who were left disfigured by the bastard disease.  One man across from me had horrific radiation burns on his neck.  His wife had applied burn cream to them, and she accompanied him to the hospital faithfully holding his hand and helping him navigate his visit.  They spoke in very hushed tones but their love for each other spoke very loudly.  Another woman, relatively young, was accompanied by a friend - neither of them showing any outward signs of the scars cancer leaves, but I know all too well how many invisible scars they both probably have.  You can tell those there for a long day of chemo - they have big survival bags full of blankets, snacks, knitting, movies, etc.  There are 3 or 4 other folks like me - alone.  I'm lucky to be alone - it means I'm not knowingly facing anything today that I need moral or physical support for.  Long may that last!

The culture of the belly of the beast is interesting too.  Sometimes people start up conversations which lead to quick revelations of their entire oncologic medical history within 3 minutes.  Other times nobody speaks except to the people who came with them.  There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason for what happens when - perhaps it just depends on whether you make eye contact.  I always wonder what peoples' stories are, but I'm sure not going to initiate a conversation.

Anyway, musings...  I am one of the lucky ones - my scans were good.  I am officially five years cancer free which dramatically reduces my chances of recurrence and means I move to annual check-ups.  All being well, my next trip to the cancer clinic will be in November 2018 when I will have a complete set of scans.  I do have plenty of scars from cancer.  Some are internal and invisible and some are physical.  They're all part of the fabric of what makes me me so I have to embrace them.

I hope everyone Black Friday shopping finds the treasures they're after!  I'll be sound asleep(-:
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Sunday, November 19, 2017

Why now?

Its been a while.  Okay, thats an unfair understatement.  Its been, literally, years since I have written a post.  I was editing the Favorites in Safari today and came across the link to the Blog.  Haven't given it much thought in a long time, but something caused me to click the link today.

And here we are.  This is a big week for me, cancer-wise.  I don't have a lot of tests - just a "simple" chest x-ray, but Tuesday morning I see my oncologist, still Dr. Vicki Keedy, for what I hope will be the last "NED" report of the 5 year period following my treatment.

My diagnosis was January 5, 2012, with surgery at the end of that month.  I began chemotherapy at the end of March 2012, added radiation to that for all of April and half of May.  Chemo then continued until September 12, 2012.  Five years ago.

In the last five years, I have had my port removed, dozens of blood tests, CT scans and MRIs; five PET scans; 2 bone scans; a ton of x-rays and a lot of doctor's visits.  The visit schedule after successful chemo is sort of a reverse pyramid scheme.  Every 3 months for 2 years, every 4 months for a year, every 6 months for 2 years until you are finally at five years.

Five years is coming up a lot in this post so far, huh?  I guess this number is a really big deal.  Statistically, they tell me that after five years the chance of recurrence is miniscule.  The skeptic in me says the chance of it occurring in the first place was miniscule.  I mean, I like to be special, but being 1 of 25 adults in a year to get the disease in the US - I would've been okay without being that special.  Yes, - that is 1 of 25 adults.  Not 25,000 or 250 even.  25.  Crazy right - and you know me!  Aren't you lucky.

Anyway, I'm rambling - I'll end here.  I'm including a somewhat current family pic since I'm so delinquent.  I'm also going to figure out over Thanksgiving break how to update the other pics on the site.  Send some comments or let me know you're out there.

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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Life is measured in months

Who knew that post cancer life was measured in three month increments?  I go thru every day looking forward to the time when it will be measured in six month increments.  Its an interesting psychology & not one I had ever thought about before I had cancer.
I find myself drawn to writing on here around the time of each quarterly check up.  Last Monday was scans & I saw the orthopedic oncologist.  Thursday I saw the sarcoma oncologist.  All was well, thank god, but there is no feeling like that wondering what they will say.  Every quarter is all comes flooding back - just going in the cancer clinic makes me want to vomit - thank goodness I don't have to go by the chemo clinic.  I don't even get off on the 2nd floor where chemo is - I go to great lengths to avoid it.
But sitting in the belly of the beast waiting to see my intelligent, sweet, kind oncologist is absolutely hell on earth for me.  I feel guilty that I'm healthy looking at the other patients, some of whom are very clearly NOT healthy.  I feel thankful that I have, so far, managed to keep my cancer in remission.  I feel happy that I don't have to see the doctors and nurses a couple hundred times in a one year span.  I feel sad knowing that only the sickest of the sick are at Vanderbilt and many won't make it.  Quite the roller coaster.
I always go alone to these check ups and sometimes I wonder why.  I think its so that if there is bad news, I can process and digest it before I have to share it.  One of my biggest fears is having to call Kendall & tell him its back.  I don't even consider this a possibility until its time for one of the check ups - so I measure life in those increments.  In six more months I will be at the two year mark - that means two more sets of scans with clear outcomes & I go to the six month frequency.  My chances of recurrence, while still there, drop dramatically after year 2.
The first quarter of 2014 hasn't been the easiest one ever - but the challenges we are facing at home and work pale in comparison to what I was dealing with at this point 2 years ago.  I always have that as perspective, which is definitely one of the positive side effects of my experience.
A friend told me a couple weeks ago that I need to find a way to use my cancer experience as a positive force in others' lives.  I am hopeful that one day I will be strong enough to do that, but for now its mine - I am not ready to share it because its so personal, so painful, so hard.

In other news from the Musgrove family, my Dad has moved over to Jupiter living in a really nice retirement home near my brother.  His health isn't great - last week he had bypass surgery.  Talk about a double whammy - bypass surgery for Dad & cancer scans for me.  No wonder I was eating donuts last week!  My brother & his family are wonderful - we went & stayed in their beautiful home at Spring Break.  Kendall is great - still running.  The girls are good.  Eriana is crazy & makes us laugh nonstop.  Her parent teacher conference last week was a delight - evidently she is not only funny & entertaining but she is sharp as a razor!  Raising a teenage girl is almost as hard as chemo.  Middle school is a tough gig - I am looking forward to high school!  EB decided to go to Father Ryan High School - a Catholic school near us.  Its larger than her current school & therefore offers more opportunities.  Back to having two kids at two different schools.  Our nanny right now is Dana, whom we all love.  She has 2 little boys who will steal your heart.  She fits in so well with our crazy family and sure does make our lives easier.

The summer will be busy, as always in the Musgrove house.  The girls are in various camps & we are hoping to have our nieces come & stay for a week or so.  We are trying to work in a cruise with my Dad & my brother's family - schedules are so hard though.

Work is good - the housing market hasn't been going great guns in the first quarter between the weather, the issues with transportation, and the fact that our company transitioned to SAP on January 1.  Hasn't been the most fun quarter ever.  But it mostly keeps me out of trouble!

I'm back on the healthy eating & exercise bandwagon.  I've lost a few pounds so far but mostly I'm focused on just eating healthy foods, exercising for enjoyment, and living my life.  The drive & will power I had before cancer has evidently been replaced by something much less effective.

So thats the quarterly update from 938 Oak Valley Lane!

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Thursday, January 30, 2014

I hate cancer

Sitting in the waiting room at Vanderbilt, the "belly of the beast" as I think of it. Just a routine (hopefully) three month check up for me. But even being here makes me nauseous. Looking at all the people waiting to see their doctors and get their labs checked brings back so many memories. Some have physical components like feeling sick or my hands sweating. It's just awful.
Monday is the worst day here when everyone comes to see their doctors and start their chemo which they call "infusions" like that makes it better?  I'm glad I'm not here on a Monday & I make it a point never to schedule Monday appointments. Thursday is a slow day & there is still a line to check in.

At Vanderbilt the chemo room, or "Infusion suite" as it's called, is on the second floor. So is the cafeteria which has a panda express. Still can't eat that food or go on the second floor here. I can't avoid the main clinic for check ups tho. Without fail every time I come here I see fear on every face. It takes different forms, sometimes tears, sometimes sleep, sometimes blank stares. It's all fear though. The providers do their best, they really do but it feels like they are fighting an unending & worse, unwinable battle. Why?

I guess I'm one of the lucky ones. Yes sure cancer has left marks on me - physical ones like scars, weight gain & swelling but the ones that really matter are the emotional and mental ones. You can't see them & most of the time I try not to feel or acknowledge them. But they are undeniable. There is pride that I survived. Fear that it will come back. Anger that I lost a year of my life to this shit. Sadness that I am unable to recover my fitness level. Joy that I learned so much during the journey. Compassion for everyone else touched by this.  I could go on all day with this list but that flies in the face of my suppression strategy.

In an hour I will see the doctor and know what the latest status is for me. In two hours I will be back at work like nothing happened. It's all kinds of jacked up, but it is my life. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thankful Squared.

I thought I would look back & see what I wrote last Thanksgiving - thats one of the nice things about having a blog - its like a permanent thought record.  Little scary sometimes, but I have found myself often referring back to a particular part of my experience or a particular date to see what I was thinking.  Here is what I posted a year ago:




Sitting in sunny Jupiter at my brothers beautiful home, surrounded by an incredible family with a big ass turkey roasting away in the oven.

I want to wish each of you a very happy and grateful day.

Here is my list of things top of mind for me today.

-I'm thankful I had cancer
-I'm thankful I no longer have cancer
-I'm thankful for modern medicine
-I'm thankful for my adoring & supportive family
-I'm thankful for technology
-I'm thankful for my wonderful friends
-I'm thankful to be alive, with my whole life ahead of me

Happy Thanksgiving.

To be honest, I don't know that I would add or subtract from that list a year later.  I'm still thankful I had cancer - it has shaped me as a person in so many ways.  But man am I thankful I don't have it anymore!  As time grows between my cancer experience and now, the memories becomes less vivid and sensory but in some ways more impactful.  As I get farther out from my treatment, I'm better able to see the whole thing in perspective, and also am finding (sadly) more opportunities to use my experience and my journey to help others.  

So I think thats the one change I might make to the list of things I'm thankful for - I'm thankful for the opportunity to use my cancer experience to help others.  I hate that others go thru cancer diagnoses and treatments, but as long as that happens, I love being able to provide some little bit of comfort or perspective or many times just listen.  

So, I hope that each of you has a wonderful Turkey Day tomorrow surrounded by whatever makes you happy - be that family, friends, pets, or sometimes nothing at all.  Savor the moments and the experiences.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Sunday, November 24, 2013

So Much for That!

So much for my promise to write more regularly huh.  Yikes, its been over two weeks since I last wrote a word.

I did finish our Paris photo book -

Its been a whirlwind since we got back - traveling a lot for the end of the year.  With all the craziness going on in my office, I've learned its better to be on the road!  It stinks for the family but it does allow me to keep my sanity.  Luckily I have about 10 trips in the next 3 months!

Hard to believe next week is Thanksgiving.  Kendall's mom comes on Tuesday so we will enjoy having her for a few days.  I think Emilia & I are going to brave the Black Friday madness next Friday, just for the experience.

Our puppies are getting bigger & bigger.  We are hoping to go see them & pick our boy next weekend.  He should be ready to come home a week or so before Christmas.  We keep telling Jessie to enjoy her last few weeks as an only dog.

Our new nanny, Megan, started this week.  Poor girl has a tough act to follow because the girls love Taylor so much.  So far so good, they both seem to like Megan & she's coming back for week #2.  Taylor came & took them to dinner & the play at school last night.  She is so adorable talking about her grown up job.  I love that she wants to stay a part of our lives.  Just like Holly.  

Its frigid here this weekend - almost as cold as it was in Breckenridge this week.  It snowed there all day Thursday - absolutely gorgeous & almost put me in the holiday spirit. Almost.  This was the view out my hotel window one morning - the day before all the snow came.  So peaceful & beautiful there.

Emilia got her braces on this week.  She looks so cute.  They only put the top ones on for now but she has a weird thing called a turbo that keeps her from biting all the way down.  I have to say the experience at Vanderbilt for Orthodontics has been very good.  The docs are all residents & they are young & fun - Emilia likes it.  Kind of funny because the private orthodontist we went to for a consult & ultimately decided not to use because of cost is one of the faculty so she sees him from time to time.  I think she is pretty enamored with the idea of being an orthodontist.  Lots of money, work doesn't seem too hard.

OK, thats all the news thats fit to print!  Happy thanksgiving!
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Friday, November 8, 2013

You Won't Believe This!

FIFTY miles is how far we walked while in Paris.  Yes, FIFTY MILES.  From Friday morning thru Thursday when we got on the plane we walked that far.  Emilia was a trooper & I think the mileage helped offset the indulgences in chocolate croissants, baguettes, crepes & the like!
The flight home was awesome - we went from Paris to Cincinatti (who knew they had international flights there!).  The plane was brand new & less than half full so we could stretch out.  And customs was a breeze with not much traffic there. We were home by 5.00 but of course that was midnight for us.  Still feeling a little tired tonight, but overall we are doing just fine.
Busy weekend of course - catch up from being gone last weekend & there's a football game Sunday so I lose a day of the weekend.  Hoping for another Titans win which will help make the playoffs seem even more possible!
I got some beautiful flowers from my Mom & Dad today - just because.  That was an awesome surprise I really appreciated.
Well, not really much else to share - just wanted to report our crazy walking in Paris!  It was a wonderful week with my big girl!!

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