I'm still in that awful waiting period – post-treatment/pre-PET Scan. The period of uncertainty as right now I have no hard evidence proving to me that the cancer is completely gone, that everything that was thrown at me worked. Until July 6 comes I remain in limbo and limbo can be a ruthless place if I let it get that way.
I'm doing my best to keep control of the situation and to keep my mind in check but it is certainly not an easy feat. Complicating this is the fact that I have a couple lymph nodes that have swelled to abnormal sizes above my right collar bone. They wax to the size of a ping pong ball and wane to the size of a red kidney bean. One is malleable while the other is smaller but more solid. There is also another familiar gumball presence in my left armpit. They all ache and pulse at times which is how I discovered them in the first place. I don't have to explain how this sends my paranoia aflutter and brings back horrible recollections of my original diagnosis.
Dr. Dailey palpated them last week and didn't seem too concerned noting that lymph nodes can swell for many reasons and that mine are going to be swollen and stretched for a long time after what they've been through. I've also been feeling pretty off with a lot of fatigue, some chest tightness, gland swelling and just overall fullness in my upper respiratory area. Plus, a lot of phlegm-like junk floating around. This makes me feel better keeping the hope alive that I just have normal person allergies or a little sinus irritation which would be causing my lymph nodes to flare up as they send out white blood cells to work to fight it. I also have to remember that I'm not even a month out of transplant. I'm coming back from being at absolute zero and have to keep reminding myself that it's not going to be a quick and easy healing process. These things take time.
But no matter what, those bad cancer thoughts creep in and that takes a physical toll. I've been very tired and achey and I've come to realize that it's stress. Over the weekend I was with friends and family doing fun things and anytime that is happening I don't feel it. It's when I'm alone and my mind can wander and my hand keeps reaching up to palpate those nodes that the tension sets in. And that's no good for anyone.
So, the only logical solution? Take a cruise. As the emotions of everything that we've been through – from embryo freezing to days upon days in the hospital – started to set in, we realized that we needed to get away to a place where we could relax, be entertained, explore ... not have to worry about cooking, cleaning, bills, doctor's appointments, lymph nodes. So I got the go-ahead from both my oncologists and we're off to the Eastern Caribbean for eight days. San Juan, St. Thomas and Turks & Caicos here we come! We have so much to celebrate and so much to be grateful for so Craig and I are taking this together as a 28th birthday present to each other and a post-transplant extravaganza. The week after we return I'll be going back to work, at least part-time, and Craig will begin his summer job so this was the perfect time to take advantage of the downtime that we both had.
It'll put us both in a good place to be able to face whatever the PET Scan may reveal. For now, rather than letting that worry control us, we're going to make the most of this time that I am here and am feeling good (enough) and most importantly, not tethered to an IV pole. Freedom for the first time in many, many months.
I'm so looking forward to snorkeling among the fishes and smiling into the Caribbean sun.