Select Page

Today marks AN end in this journey but it is far from THE end of the journey. As my oncologist reminded us yesterday, this is a marathon not a sprint or even a distance run. While I may have completed all of my in office/hospital treatments for this battle, I have YEARS worth of ongoing endocrine therapy and follow up visits ahead of me.

Let me back up a bit and expand for those of you who aren’t me and haven’t had today marked on your calendar for the last 6 weeks. Today was my final radiation treatment. I have officially completed all 25 of my daily (weekday) trips to the hospital. The picture on the left is the traditional bell ringing that patients who complete their course of cancer treatment participate in. I had no idea this was a thing until I started chemo and saw the bell on my way out each treatment, so don’t feel bad if you are clueless as to what I’m talking about.

Anyway, even though I am technically finished with the treatments, my body will continue to process the treatments for the next two to three weeks meaning that I could continue to see worsening skin and possibly radiation burn or peeling and increased fatigue even though those things haven’t been my reality yet. We are grateful that my skin has held up so well to this point and my radiologist said that though I will likely see it continue to degrade some, she does not expect the serious degradation that is not uncommon with this treatment course. After about two or three weeks, any issues I am having should start to get better. Please continue praying alongside us. We’d be thrilled to be able to report back with praises in a couple of weeks.

In addition to finishing radiation this week, I met with my oncologist about next steps.

She walked Andy and I through the options for endocrine therapy and explained that I can choose which option I feel is best for me. She did make her recommendation but there are several options she is fully comfortable with. She told me to go home and figure out what I want to do and get back to her sometime in the next four weeks. We won’t be starting anything before about four weeks, even if I were to decide sooner, as it is best for my body to finish processing the radiation treatments before embarking on something new with its own set of side effects. So while today may mark the end of my in hospital/office treatments, it marks the near beginning of the MUCH – like 5 to 10 years – longer treatment course that is endocrine therapy.

We also talked about getting my port taken out. I am finished having this “stack of quarters” under my skin. Does it bother me? Not usually, but if one of the kids bumps it, it is uncomfortable at best. Recently, Wyatt has bumped into it frequently. My guess is he has grown just a bit and it is where his head now naturally goes if he is sitting on my lap or giving me a hug. Anyway, she said it can come out as soon as they can get a RAD to take it out. I should know in the next few days when that will be. It is another minor surgery but I am semi-conscious through the whole thing and it is worth it to be one more step towards “normal.”

The final topic of our conversation yesterday was follow up. She explained that there is no medical reason or benefit in doing scans or blood work at this time. I will have regular follow up appointments with her as well as with my surgeon and radiologist for the next several years and there will be times for scans and blood work but now is not that time. She said this can be hard for some people to grasp as they want something definitive to tell them that the cancer is gone. As of now, I am not one of those people. I am grateful to be finished with scans and blood work for a while.

I am very grateful to be at the point we are at. I am grateful for AN end even knowing that it is not THE end.

Things We are Praising God for . . .

  • The way my skin has responded thus far.
  • Friends and Family who have been able to help with the boys when I’ve wanted Andy to go with me to an appointment.
  • Fantastic nurses who advocated for me when I wasn’t sure how to advocate for myself.
  • People who understand more than I do.
  • An opportunity to help make the decisions for the next steps without a “fight” with the doctor.
  • Less trips to the hospital. Last week someone asked me what I was going to do with all my time when I quit my part-time job – aka radiation. Even though I think I knew it was taking nearly 15 hours out of every week, it was incredible to think of it in those terms.
  • The team of people who have been and continue to pray for us.
  • People who have reached out just to say we’re still praying and we’re here if we can do anything for you.
  • Andy’s ability to work from home.
  • Boys who are growing in independence but who still want their mama – both for school things and life.
  • A leg that has pretty much healed from the burns from the pressure cooker [if you’re lost you can read about what happened here Update – Radiation, School Starting & More].
  • Continued increase in my range of motion.
  • A doctor who called when she realized she hadn’t mentioned something during my appointment that we may want to consider AND her willingness to send an article or two my way so I would have information as I try to decide what to do.

Things We’re Currently Lifting Up . . .

  • Decisions regarding endocrine therapy.
  • My skin and muscles as radiation continues to have an effect for the next few weeks.
  • Sleep – Andy nor I are sleeping well or much at all.
  • Homeschooling – now that I’m going to be home more, we’re hoping to hit a better stride.
  • Adjustments back to “normal” life. This seems a little silly but we’ve not had more than a couple weeks here and there without a ton of appointments for nine full months now.
  • The procedure to take out the port.
  • No delayed side effects from the radiation.
  • Minimal or no side effects from the endocrine therapy. All of the choices have a long list of side effect, some of which are very common and most of which are quite annoying or scary.