Hi, everyone. I've gone back and fortrh with myself over whether or not to post this new news or not. Maybe if I wait something will come up that makes it not seem as bad as it is, I keep thinking to myself. In the end, I've decided to post because I not only use this blog to keep everyone updated, but because it has also become a therapeutic journal of my experiences, too.
Dr. Wendt drew lab work this past Wendnesday before giving me my chemo; just like he does every time. When I went back the following day for my Neulasta shot, he had gotten the results back. My alkaline phosphatase has gone back up to 287 and my tumor markers almost doubled, going from 34 to 60 - no longer in the normal range.
There is really no explanation for it except that there is cancer somewhere. We will repeat the lab work when I go back in two weeks and if the markers are still elevated, more tests will be ordered, an MRI or bone scan.
So, as always, this journey continues to be an emotional roller coaster. Honestly, each day for me right now is an emotional roller coaster. Sometimes, I'm fine and tell myself I've still got a fighting chance. I'm being monitored so closely and treated so aggressively that even if there is cancer somewhere, we're getting at it early. Other times, I freak out and panic. Tumor markers going up while I'm in the middle of chemotherapy can't be good. I worry that this cancer is so aggressive that nothing is going to work. I worry that every little ache and pain (and I've got a lot of little aches and pains as a result of all I've been through this past year!) is cancer. I know it is not good for my health to worry like that, but it is hard to control where your thoughts go sometimes.
One thing that helps tremendously is all the love and support I get from my friends at school. Being back at work this year has been one of the hardest things I've done, and yet also one of the best.
I had no idea when I returned to teaching in August how difficult this journey was going to be. Maybe I was naive, but I thought I'd finish up my radiation, do the next course of chemo, and be done and well by the end of November. I've never really been sick before and so I don't have a lot to compare to, but when I had our kids or my jaw surgery a couple of years ago, I bounced back quickly and easily. That's not happerning this time, probably because I just can't seem to get a break from all the treatment. Instead of feeling like a ball that bounces back up every time you drop it, I feel like an egg that just keeps smashing into the concrete over and over.
But, while school is so very difficult for me physically, right now, it is also the very best thing emotionally. My kids are awesome! They are the sweetest, nicest, kindest, most hard working class I've had, and that's saying a lot because I've always had wonderful classes. They made me cry a week or so ago. I was out for the day to have my thoracentesis and when I came back the next morning, I found a note they had written and all signed, asking me to please get better because they didn't want me to have to leave teaching again. That note is my inspiration to get my feet on the ground each morning even when I am feeling terrible! Plus, my day is filled with hugs and words of encouragement from all of my teacher friends. Hardly a morning goes by that someone doesn't stop by my room to see how I am and give me a hug. Too often, I end up crying when that happens, my emotions are stretched pretty thin right now, but I always feel stronger and more ready to face the day afterwards.
My family continues to be my rock. Pam calls or writes every day and sends me cute Hallmark cards that make me smile. She will be here for a few days this week again. I can't wait. Joe amazes me with his tireless efforts to do everythng in his power to help me. He works long days, comes home and makes sure I have a good dinner, works on the bills, takes care of the house, tells me I'm beautiful when right now it is the farthest thing from the truth, goes to every single doctor appointment and test with me. I honestly don't know how he does all he does and love him so very much. My kids are amazing and don't let a day go by without showing me with their words and actions how much they love me. I love them and am so proud of them!
A story on the news this week reminded me again of how fragile life is. A 27 year old fire fighter was killed in northern Arizona by a falling tree when he was out camping during the storm that came through this week. A father and husband and so very young. It reminded me to hold tight to and treasure all the memories that I have from all the days I've been given and to make the most of each of the ones I have in the future.
So, I'm off to do that now! Christmas shopping this weekend, going to As You Wish with Janaya, and Michael is going to winter formal! Check back in the next couple of days for pictures - he is sooooooo handsome!