I have no idea the last time I posted a cancer post. It’s been a minute. I haven’t bothered posting about my checkups in the last few years (unless it was incidental to some other post), which I faithfully attended every six months. Here’s how the visit would typically go…
Park the car and enter the building. Check in at the front desk. Wait for my turn with Nizi, who does all of the non-port blood draws. Have a pleasant chat while she does her thing. Return to the waiting room. Hear Lisa call my name. Follow her back for vitals. Talk about our latest dietary and exercise efforts. Follow her to the exam room and wait for Alla. Smile when I hear the click-clack of her heels. Big smiles and hugs. Bloodwork is perfect (they have their own lab, so results come in minutes, not days). Talk about kids, camp (ours go to the same overnight camp), other various topics. Hug goodbye. Repeat in six months.
Note: I never did need another scan. Alla told me that they (“they” being the all-knowing collective of experts), have found if a patient were to relapse, they almost always came in with symptoms before it was ever caught on a scan, so to all that extra radiation we said, “Bye Felicia!”
Even though the anniversary of my last chemo treatment isn’t until the 27th, on Monday, I had my 5 year visit with Alla. FIVE YEARS! It’s so surreal. Like graduation. But this is better than any graduation. This is CURED of cancer! Could something else cause another cancer down the road for me? Sure it could. Do I still need to be cognizant of the potential long term complications from chemo? Of course. But after Monday, I will never have another appointment related to the Diffuse Large B Cell Lymphoma that turned life upside down at the end of 2014. In case you’re new to this story, you should probably start with this post.
Oddly, it all feels a bit unfinished. Thanks to the current need to socially distance, there was no hug hello. Smiles were there, but barely perceptible, because they were hidden behind masks. We chatted as we normally would, but we were on opposite sides of the room. We talked about our kids, but not as much as usual. We talked LOT about COVID-19, the fact that even this far out from chemo, I’m still at higher risk for complications if I did get the ‘Rona. So yeeeeah, I have to go ahead and be extra careful. Meaning, I shouldn’t do things like get on airplanes or go to the gym – at least until we get a better handle on this thing, understand it more, have reliable treatments and/or an effective vaccine. Kinda sucks, but not as much as having cancer did, so there’s that.
I asked her if I needed to make another appointment. She said, “Well, if you really want to. You can come back once a year.” As we’d discussed in the past, lots of patients have a difficult time letting go of the worry. They want an annual visit just “to make sure.” And I get that. I really do. But, I’m more than happy to end this chapter of my life. Still, I will miss Alla. I’ve been fortunate to find several amazing doctors who get me, and I get them. We’d be friends in any other situation. Oooh! I wonder if Alla would want to meet for coffee once in a while, seeing as I’m no longer her patient. Or would she find that weird?
Anywhoodle, that evening, Hubs and I decided to celebrate. We broke out the wedding flutes and chose a bottle of 2014 Paradise Ridge sparkling blanc de blanc from our last Napa trip. He patiently helped me set up the shot and get the lighting just right. Then, we toasted this milestone and to health (mine in particular – natch).
L’chiam, sláinte, and FUCK CANCER!