No Mo’ Chemo (the TMI edition)

23 Feb

So.  It’s over.  My chemo.  It’s over.  I no longer have access to carboplatin, taxol, or massive amounts of IV benadryl, zofran, zantac and dexamethasone.  I continue to get the much less toxic Avastin, but only every 3 weeks, until December.

In the past 7 days I’ve had my last dose of chemo, chatted with my reproductive endocrinologist (I might start taking testosterone??), had a CT scan, met with the genetics counselor and seen both my hematologist/oncologist and my gynecological oncologist.  It’s been a big week and overall, the news is good.  My CA-125 is down to a lovely 8 and my CT scan shows no cancer.  I do have a benign cyst on my liver (which I’ve had for as long as I’ve been having CT scans).  I’m told 5% of the general population has this and it means nothing — Chris is convinced it’s actually just a little pouch full of red wine.  This is the good news.  In less good news…I may have…wait for it…it’s potentially gross…a vaginal fistula.  Specifically a vesicovaginal fistula.  Yeah.  That’s TMI.  Sorry.  But it helps me to honest on this blog.

I’m currently, with the help of my good friend Pinot Grigio, choosing not to dwell on the potential negatives here.  My CT scan shows no cancer!  I’m done with some dreadful chemotherapy!  I’m still waiting for my genetics results, but it’s considered highly unlikely that I have a genetic mutation (like a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation) that caused my cancer!  We moved into a new house with a wood stove!  We bought an EPICALLY comfortable red sofa!  My mom is a badass and Chris and I just went to go see her badass-ness on the big screen in the badass movie Mothers of Bedford.  Before the movie I ate delicious tilapia!  Plus, yesterday while getting my Avastin at the doctor’s office I got to sit next to the inspiring Midge.  Homegirl is 85 (looks maybe 55) and has been on chemo for 2 years…and will be for the rest of her life.  Homegirl also has a 90 year old lover who lives in Nashville, dresses better than I ever have or probably will and has more stories she can tell with a smile than Mr. Rogers.  I’m a big fan.

These are the positives.  I’m striving to be positive.

But WAAAAAAAAAH!!!  A fistula??? I mostly just want to lie on the ground and wail and kick and cry until I’m red in the face.  You have got to be kidding me.

Now, before I flip my shit totally.  My heme/onc tells me that we often see things on CT scans that turn out to, well, not really be there.  Also, I have no symptoms…at least I think I don’t.  I’d like to think I’d notice if I was leaking urine out of my vagina.  I hope.  You’d think, right?  A fistula is, compared to cancer, a nuisance…a fixable nuisance. It’d be especially tricky to fix while I’m taking Avastin — they don’t even let you get a tattoo because your healing process is so messed up by it — but we’ll see what happens.  There’s more testing to be done.  I may not even have one.  My doctor in fact told me not to worry about it…but come on.  You know me.

Despite this bump in the road, I’m feeling overall, pretty good.  It’s been a week since my last dose of chemo, so starting tomorrow, when I’m not hit with another dose, I will feel better than I have in months and months.  Each day I’ll feel better and better. They tell me it’s going to take as long as 6 months for me to feel “back to normal”, which is a long time, but I’m trying to be patient.  My hair will be back in 4 – 6 weeks.  I don’t have to take anti-nausea medication anymore.  My energy level will just slowly and continuously rise.  Here comes the sun, right?  Don’t let the fistula get you down!


10 Responses to “No Mo’ Chemo (the TMI edition)”

  1. Stas Lazarev February 23, 2011 at 12:51 pm #

    Dear Colleen! I just want to say that I’ve been following your blog all this time, and I am amazed by your strong character and fantastic sense of humor! Congratulations on beating cancer! I am very happy for you, and I am sure the entire medschool class is! We all remember you and hope to see you back soon!

  2. Marisa February 23, 2011 at 4:23 pm #

    Hell yes to being cancer and chemo free!!! Even though it is far off I am hoping to accompany Meghan to your party come April. Enjoy getting back to ‘normal’ and congrats on the new place! 🙂

  3. kathy bryson February 23, 2011 at 7:27 pm #

    Fuck Cancer and Chemo….fistula’s nothing! There is a fistula foundation that I have supported and donated to at my son-in-law’s request. He saw a horrid show on Oprah…figures! Treatable and liveable!! Carry on…let’s partay!

  4. Siobhan February 23, 2011 at 9:03 pm #

    YEAH!!! Sounds like the worst is over. Life is full of “fistula’s”. You’ve just hurdled something much bigger!!! You keep on keeping on Colleen, it’s been inspiring to read your story!!
    Lots of love, Siobhan

  5. Kory February 24, 2011 at 12:12 am #

    Hey! I just came across your blog yesterday (through Maybe If You Just Relax’s blog). I’m glad to hear that you are CANCER FREE. Keep up the blog posts. =)

  6. Tony February 27, 2011 at 8:26 pm #

    OK. So when did Bobby get sent to prison? What did she do? I know she didn’t kill Rich because I just traded emails with him. Seriously; a noble cause Bobby. Good for you. Making a difference is what life is about. I have come to the conclusion over the years that the sole purpose of life is to reduce suffering. I can see you have come to a similar conclusion. My most sincere appreciation.

    Colleen. Glad to hear this news. You are strong and it seems like you have beaten this cancer thing. It will be very interesting to see what you do with this experience, your obvious intelligence, and your genetic predispositions for introspection, communication and contribution to the greater good. I hope you continue to share.


  7. Tony February 27, 2011 at 8:30 pm #

    BTW tats are over rated, as are piecings. Potential sources of infection and disease for what? Vanity? Beh.



  8. Liza Kerrigan February 28, 2011 at 6:03 pm #

    :)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)) :)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):)):))!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    BTW- what does TMI mean?

    love, love, love you!! :))

  9. Kory February 28, 2011 at 6:41 pm #

    @ Liza, TMI = Too Much Information. =)

    • Liza Kerrigan March 1, 2011 at 7:19 pm #

      Oh…right, of course…! Thanks.

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