Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Perfectly Normal

I've waited almost two years to hear words confirming I'm in least as much in remission as I can be. This week my oncology Nurse Practitioner (Julie) told me my labs were good, my scans were good, and I was perfectly normal. WOO HOO!!! Of course, I chuckled knowing my family would be cracking up to hear me described as any kind of normal. Then she clarified, "On paper, you are normal." HA!

I went to my appointment with a couple of questions on my mind. First, since I had Diffuse Large B Cell Lymphoma (aggressive) along with Follicular Lymphoma (indolent), where do I fit when reading articles, listening to webinars, and attending seminars? I haven't found much that addresses aggressive and slow growing lymphomas at once. Julie explained I had two separate types of lymphoma and it will be hard to find information that applies to me having them together. So I'll just keep learning about BOTH.

The good news is the DLBCL (aggressive) is considered cured, and getting to the five year mark will be a relief. The not-as-good news is the FL (indolent) is not curable and could some day "rear it's ugly head." So, I'll be monitored for life - also known as watch and wait. Yep, for life... But it's comforting to know my doctor will be continually observing me.

The second question I had was if a CT scan will pick up bone cancer. Maybe I'm a little paranoid, but information is power, right?!?! My last couple of scans, as well as a bone scan after I cracked a rib, show degenerative arthritis and osteopenia, which I'm sure is the cause of my neck pain. Since pain is also a symptom of something more, I don't want to dismiss it just because nothing else showed up on my scan. Julie said a CT scan will show if cancer has spread to the bone. She also assured me that it is not common for lymphoma to metastasize to the bone like some other cancers. 

While cancer (and lime green) will always be a part of my life, it's becoming less and less the seemingly BIGGEST part of my life. I'm moving past the surviving stage and on to the thriving stage. I'm looking for ways to make the most of what I've learned and experienced. Life changing events force a new normal, and I'm becoming more comfortable with my new perfectly normal.

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