Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Done and Done

the banner the kids and grandma made for me to celebrate the final Herceptin.
It says - Love U Mom
I am officially port-a-cath free! I'm sitting here with half my chest still orange from the iodine and a bit sore. but I am now free of foreign objects! One of the nurses said today - 'you're back already?' I laughed at that - it's felt like an eternity to me. I've had this thing in since last May.

On August 9th I finished my last injection of Herceptin and as arranged by my Oncologist I went in for the removal of the port less then a week later. I love that she was as excited for me to get it removed as I was. It demonstrates her confidence in my disease-free state and while nothing is ever 'for sure' in this life - for today I'm cancer free.

I've had a great month, full of energy and joy and activity. My mom and dad were out visiting for the final injection and we managed to do a whole bunch of stuff with nary a nap to be seen. I love that I'm feeling more myself. I don't think I realized how tired I actually was these past 12 months, not until I started waking up a bit more, feeling a bit more normal.

We even went up Cascade Falls while they were here - not just the steps to the falls lookout (that's all I could do when we went there in October) but through the woods onto the river, rock jumping and climbing, with a bit of time spent paddling in the frigid water. And afterwards all I felt was the normal amount of tired. The nurses in the chemo room think I'm right on track with how I should be feeling. I'm almost a year out from chemo and things should be uphill from here.

And speaking of the chemo room - have I ever mentioned how great everyone was in there? In some ways I'll miss that place. The nurses were stellar. Never once did I feel like a number - or just another patient. I'm sure it helps that I went in 22 times! There's Jen, the nurse I saw 4 days after my first chemo. She was teaching Sam how to stick me in the stomach for my Nupogen shots. She asked how I was doing and I burst into tears. She was the one who told us to drink milkshakes which was probably the reason I gained 10 lbs in 2 months while hardly being able to eat! We've had a few good laughs over that first meeting. That was my lowest point for sure.

Then there's Janice who always remembered the names of my kids, who always made a point of coming to talk to me even when I wasn't her patient. She hugged me every time - she was very cool. Barb, who had great stories and tears for me on my last day, Eileen who knew all about Herceptin and could answer all my questions, Sue with her bright smile and tender care and all the others who I didn't know quite as well but always stopped by to say hi.

And the last day - after they de-accessed my port for the final time they all came around to hug me and wish me well. We cried a bit and made a little commotion which had the other patients smiling. They mentioned how wonderful it was for them to see a good outcome. So often in their job the news isn't good. My heart ached for all those I left behind in the chairs, bags of drugs dripping into their veins. In some ways its hard being a survivor.

A friend dropped off an 'all done' gift and in the card it said: "Can't wait to see where you go with your regained freedom" and I have to say - I can't wait to see where I go either.