First Day of Radiation Freedom!
"The best view comes after the hardest climb." - unknown
As many people already know, yesterday was my last day of radiation! Those short but not so sweet 33 treatments came to an end and you better bet I spent my day celebrating! These past 6.5 weeks were not as horrible as they could have been, fortunately I handled the treatment very well according to my doctors. My level of fatigue wasn't as high (even though I thought it was, but apparently it could be much worse), and I only had 1 awful sick day which was easily treated by going back on the steroids. Aside from those two days, everything else was 'normal' as far as radiation is concerned. Now I patiently wait for the next step in treatment which I am anticipating will be 6 months of oral chemo - I take the pill for 5 days a month for 6 months. I will know more about this over the next month between my appointments with my Neuro Oncologist (NO) and my Medical Oncologist (MO). If everything is good to go, I will start my first cycle at the end of September. Of course between appointments and tumor board meetings this can change, nothing is set in stone, but this is what I am also hoping for. At this point in the game I really want all treatment that will benefit me in the end and prevent additional recurrences. I would say third time's a charm...but this is number 4. What do you say about that because I have no idea besides hello annoying.
Moving on to the happy parts - I officially have 1 1/2 weeks of NO doctor appointments. I don't really know what I'm going to do with myself. My sister better have her baby soon so that way I can play with my new niece during this brief stint of downtime. My next appointment is on September 12th and is my first follow up MRI since treatment, with an appointment with my NO immediately following to discuss the results. In my case, my assumption is that this MRI will be used to confirm no new growth during radiation and to be used as a base going forward for future scans. There could be more information to obtain - possibly looking for scar tissue? - but I don't know much at this point. This will also only be of my brain, not of my spine right now. In the future we will monitor my spine to be cautious but since only my brain was treated during radiation, that's why we're only obtaining an image of that right now. Not to mention those brain/spine MRIs are roughly 2 hours long...do you really think I enjoy laying in the MRI machine for that long? Um. No. I then will have my appointment with my MO the week after my MRI and NO appointment, and then am planning on returning to work the following week! I do miss it, I am excited to return, see all my favorite people and get back into the grind. I have days at home where I feel useless so being at work will definitely combat that feeling. I will quickly get to the point where I wish there were 3 of me so I can get everything done that needs to be done :)
One last thing before I share a small photo journal to showcase the love yesterday: I am so so excited to say that today I can start a safe & slow taper from my steroids! I move from 2 pills a day to 1 pill a day until the second week of September, and then I move to 1 pill every other day until the first week of October then donezo! I have been on this medication almost consistently since May 13 so the goal is to obviously not shock my body and make it difficult to come off which is why we are tapering sllllooowww. I will not complain. The end is in sight! And much closer than it feels like!
Ok so yesterday was incredible. I can't even begin to explain the amount of love I felt from the moment I got to the hospital until the moment I went to bed. I was able to listen to Ellie Goulding during my final treatment, and then they played the graduation song (Pomp and Circumstance, not the Vitamin C song) in the room when I was done which was so cute. I then walked out and got to ring the completion bell which has a quote next to it that reads "Ring this bell, Three times well, Its toll to clearly say, My treatments done, This course is run, And I am on my way." I said bye to two of the Radiation Therapists that were there and almost cried because of how awesome they are and how incredible of an experience they made this for me. Literally, being radiated before you even eat breakfast might not sound like the most fun morning plan but these people who work in this department, I can't say enough about them. They are so positive, caring, sincere..I can go on and on. It was almost like I had my own little team throughout the treatment, they grew to know me and I grew to know them. They put up with me bringing my family in the room so they could see the crazy spider-like contraption that I hang out with Monday-Friday, they put up with my complaining about my hair once it started falling out, but they also were all-in-all, absolutely incredible. I can't say enough. After that, I met with the nurse, Gail, who is just as awesome. First, she gave me a big hug and then presented me with this super cute certificate, but we will call it my graduation diploma, which I will frame or put on the fridge or something fun. Curtis and I left and went to Dutch Girl Donuts which I have never been to! He's been wanting to go so we figured we would go crazy since celebrations call for crazy. Did I mention he worked from home yesterday so he could spend the day with me? Well he did because he's the sweetest ever and even though he still works, it's so nice when he's here because I can annoy him anytime I want and we can work together in our start-up office a.k.a our garage. Ok back to the food talk - we got a bunch of donuts from Dutch Girl, if you haven't been there you should go. It's on Woodward just south of 7 mile (I think) and it's off the chizains. I don't even remember what we got..red velvet donut holes, glazed donut holes, raisin donut, chocolate coconut, double chocolate...and others. No we did not eat ALL of them, but I don't know if I can honestly say the rest will be here when Curtis gets home from class tonight. I may have already snuck half of one with my cereal this morning. MAY have, not saying anything happened for sure. After Dutch Girl, we went to my next favorite spot..Starbucks. If it wasn't for the "Starbucks for Life" game going on right now I might not be so obsessed, but I also really enjoy the double shot on ice sub coconut milk. That's my jam right now. Curtis got a cold brew with a splash of coconut milk which was also tasty. After breakfast I went and got my nails done because why not? Just a simple polish change but enough to make me feel pampered. No toes though, I'm way too ticklish and I can do those myself. Fingernails on the other hand, I don't know what my issue is. It's like I paint them and wait 3 hours then have to do something like cut a tree down and stick my hand in a bucket of sharp objects and the polish is ruined. So like shopping at Forever 21, I have officially given up on painting my own fingernails. I also got two new earrings for my tragus and forward helix because my tragus started closing up after taking it out so often which is strange considering I've had it since college, but if that thing closes up I honestly don't think I would re-pierce it, that thing was PAINFUL. And my poor forward helix has closed up twice before when it's been taken out for surgery so I really don't want to get it re-pierced a 3rd time.
Now onto more food talk, Curtis took me, my sister, his mother and father out to dinner at Pop's For Italian in Ferndale for...my favorite...Pizza. I meant to take a picture of our pizza to make all of you hungry but was too focused on eating it before I remembered. Which is how it should be. We got a margherita pizza and an artichoke pizza that had capers & mozzarella. Yummm! If you haven't been there, I highly recommend it. Their chopped salad is also so good. Of course we can't forget about dessert. Since Daily Dinette is attached to Pop's, we obviously had to eat MORE donuts. Now these I did get a picture of. I love the donuts there too, they are unique and delicious. All in all, I had way too many donuts yesterday but whatever, we were celebrating. A guilt-free day long celebration. Now enjoy these pictures that sum up my day :)
Two RTs from the team:
Me & my fancy diploma:
No caption needed:
Super adorable balloons from Cheryl :)
Daily Dinette dessert donuts:
Now what? I have some crafts to work on, I have some books to read, I have some work peeps to catch up with. I'm also going to be creating posts to share the stories of others who are also fighting a brain tumor. I have a handful of people who are willing to share, so over the next few weeks, in between posts, I will be sharing their story as told by them. Some have blogs, some have videos, one even has a book ;) I hope that you enjoy reading their stories as much as I do and I hope by doing this we can spread even more awareness. Chances are you know someone aside from me who may be going through a similar fight, but they don't need to feel that they are alone. Even if it's not in the brain, we are all warriors and can help each other out in more ways that we can imagine.
The last thing I wanted to share was a picture of my new turban style that I discovered is the easiest thing ever to do. I love it. If anyone wants to learn, I'll be happy to teach you :)
Again, I can't say thank you enough for all of the support and love and positivity that everyone has provided. My heart is so incredibly full. And can we talk about the fact that my Facebook post from yesterday currently has 293 'likes'??? I know I shouldn't be concerned about that, but.....it's sort of crazy and is the most I've ever had before! I didn't even think I had 293 friends. Turns out I'm wrong.