Follow-Up #1

Today I had my first (of what will be a lifetime of) follow-up appointments.  It was with Dr. Kebria, my main oncologist.  He did an exam, confirmed that everything up in there is looking as it should, no problems, yadda yadda.  We won't have a "for sure" answer as to whether the cancer is all gone until the first post-treatment PET scan, which is getting scheduled for the beginning of April.

While that means 3 months of uncertainty and probably occasional anxiety, it also means that the trip to Italy my mum had planned to take me on is a GO!  I'm a little nervous about what my stamina will be like in just 63 days, but because this idea originated last March (after the first exam that indicated there may be something really wrong...) it's something that is still really important to me.  Seeing Italy with my mother (and MAYBE my sister... HOPEFULLY my sister...) is pretty exciting.  It's been 20 years since I last crossed the ocean.  Vacations just haven't been a part of my life lately.  But Ryan and I are committed to changing that as part of our "new life" together.  We're already discussing visiting friends in California sometime this year as well as doing just an overnight trip to Mohican before I get the OK to go back to work next week.

Oops... I seem to have gotten off topic.  (Can you tell I was excited about Italy?  Totally sidetracked...)


Other (mostly awesome) things I learned today:

I am safe to start exercising.
I am safe to eat raw vegetables again - yay salad!
I am safe to go to the dentist.
I am safe to get tattooed - need to design that "fuck cancer" tattoo!
The bumps in my veins are not a big deal and should go away (though I already knew this - thanks, Gale.)

Oh.  And speaking of things going away... so long, periods.  Yeah.  My 36 year old ass is officially menopausal.  Depending on the outcome of some blood-work tomorrow, I will be on Hormone Replacement Therapy right away.  I can't really say I'm complaining about never having a period again, but I will reiterate the fact that something about having the option to change our minds and have kids one day taken away... it's just depressing.  Even though I've never wanted kids.  Even though I am sure I'd be a useless parent.  Still.  Kinda sad somehow.  But no more periods?  WOOHOO!  I think that makes it pretty worth it.  Ha.

And speaking of things going away (again)... I said a (possible) goodbye to my mum and step-dad today.  As the weather is so uncertain, it is possible that they will be headed home to Colorado at any point over the next day or so.  It was sad to say goodbye.  I really got used to them just being here.  Used to mum's hugs and to dad tearing up every time he told me I was doing good.  Used to dad eating all of the candy in our candy dish and to mum helping me organize everything.  Used to just visiting or having a meal or seeing them in the waiting room before and after each treatment.  Shit.  Now I'M the one tearing up.

I'm ending this before I make myself cry rivers again.  Ending it with the biggest THANK YOU in the world.  I have no idea how we'd have gotten through this without them.  Most amazing people ever.  And I am truly the luckiest woman ever.


Ciao, Phoebe


I'm glad to hear things are moving in the right track. I'm sure even if you don't have the stamina you want during your trip to Italy, it will still be amazing and you'll be more than happy to be there.
As far as losing the option to have babies, that sucks but there's always the option for adopting. Or you can always come visit/babysit our Bacon bit ;)
Steve Brown said…
S'ok. You got a niece and nephew here that you can spoil / teach stuff / scare the living shit out of.

jim nelson said…
I couldn't have said it any better.... A HUGE THANK YOU to your Mom and Dad. I for one, am very grateful they were able to be there for you and Ryan!!! And to Ryan, your amazing husband, a HUGE THANK YOU for being such a wonderful husband to my little girl!!!....j
Gale said…
Hi Phoebe,

First of all, your emerging (I hate this word, but I'm still going to write it) "optimism" is fucking great!

I won't gush about your proposed vacations, because they speak for themselves. I have the feeling that you will match your energy levels to the itineraries, and will have a kick-ass time in any event. So, congratulations! This is a milestone...a good one!

So, let's get down to the medical stuff:

Anxiety will be your "familiar" (like a black cat or a unicorn)for a LONG time. I do not use those nouns without due consideration, and I mean no disregard or disrespect by those examples.

I am sorry, Phoebe, but anxiety will be a part of your life for awhile, along with all the free-floating uncertainty regarding all we have discussed. It sucks, but it is real. All you can do is change how you deal with it and regard it. And don't let anyone give you any shit about it, either.

"I am safe to start exercising.
I am safe to eat raw vegetables again - yay salad!
I am safe to go to the dentist.
I am safe to get tattooed "

Phoebe, all I can recommend is something someone else once told me: "Evolution, not revolution." In other words, and these are MY Dad's words, "Walk, do not run, to your ultimate destiny."

Yes, I understand that you have just received a reprieve. Please, just be cool: 50-50 fire and ice. Please proceed with caution, listen to your body that only you know so well. In other words, be cautious and be kind to yourself.

Regarding your GYN/reproductive status, I completely understand your statement. You can Facebook or email me regarding my personal details, but I COMPLETELY understand your ambivalence/equivocations. It seems silly, since periods are annoying, but having them taken away, rather than choosing that option, is still a big deal. Again, I get it. My circumstances are a bit different, but the outcome is identical. Bottom line, however? I do not miss periods. I miss some of the other issues, however.

Phoebe, if anything I write feels offensive or objectionable, please just email me back, or via my Gmail account: These are such sensitive issues, and the last thing I ever want to do is make you feel uncomfortable.

Just remember that all of us, friends and family, love you. We do not give a damn (judgement-wise) whether you feel well, or feel shitty. Sure, we'd love for, and hope for you to feel great. But we do not expect it. If you have good days, then they are a gift. As you previously wrote: if you feel well, then we feel grateful. Nevertheless, it is not an edict. We are here, regardless.

Pearls on the string: they happen, but they are not constant; only repeatable.

Hang in there, Phoebe.


Laura said…

Thank you for sharing your experience with us all and putting both your vulnerability and empowerment out there.

Love you so also failed to mention above you are going to start meditating...totally sweet!
See you soon!
good days ahead. your folks are so nice and I was glad to meet them both in person. just from your words their hearts remind me of my mom and dad. I am so glad you are in the world.
Jim Dustin said…
Wonderful news! - Jim
Mum said…
It has been an honor and a joy to spend the past ten weeks being with my daughter, Phoebe as just a small part of her cancer survivor team. Painful to see her in pain. Comforting to give and receive hugs every day. Joyful to just BE with Phoebe and especially to see her bravery, her strength, her positive attitude - and to feel her love of life and friends and family. It has truly been an honor to support Phoebe and Ryan through what we believe will be the hardest physical part of this roller coaster. Our reward will be Phoebe's dream trip to Italy along with her sister, Wendy! The future looks beautiful to me right now, and I look forward to MUCH more time spent with the ladies in my life. Thanks, too, to my ROCK of support - my husband Gary. He alone saw all of my breakdowns, and helped me be there for Phoebe! And Ryan, you have just blown me away by your commitment to Phoebe - my eternal thanks and love to you. I love you, Phoebe!!!
Gale said…
Nan, Jim and Phoebe:

Nan and Jim, you are amazing parents. Neither of you should be enduring this, and I just wanted to write that all of us Edgewater Drive/LHS friends love you and are here for you.

Phoebe, your parents may have been pains in the ass as you grew up, but I remember when Nan was pregnant with you, and how gorgeous she was. Also, I grew up across the street from your father, and one of these days I will share some amusing stories about him that you may not have heard.

In any case, we all share some history and many of us are here to hear the good and the bad, and help in any way we can.


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