March 2019 has come roaring in like a lion, and like a Mama lioness, I have been aggressively battling my cancer predator this month. My last blog post [Flying High -February 2019] was written pre-surgery, so I’m going to catch you all up with where we are in the Cancer Jungle.
When my January 27th scans continued to show some rapid growth of my right prevascular thoracic and internal mammary and anterior pericardial nodes, my oncologist, Dr. Kemeny, who all the other doctors and nurses refer to as a “Rock Star”, immediately sent us to MSKCC’s Chief Thoracic surgeon, Dr. Bernard Park (https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/doctors/bernard-park). He’s a pioneer in robotic surgery and VATS procedures, and definitely the right surgeon for what I needed. I had surgery on Feb. 11th, and he was able to remove the smaller, but metastasized right mammary nodes and a pericardial “fat pad”. (Who knew I was padded with ‘fat pads’?! I told the staff I’d like to be a ‘fat pad donor’ if the need ever arose! 😉) Well, it turned out the largest thoracic node was too risky to surgically remove. It had ‘invaded’ or attached to a main artery, and getting to it would involve removing a part of the artery, rebuilding it, possibly destroying a nerve to the larynx and diaphragm and cracking open my breast bone to get to it. Dr. Park said if this were my ‘last chance’ to get rid of it, we’d do it, but right now wasn’t the right time. The very next day in the hospital, Dr. Kemeny comes to tell us we will do radiation therapy on it ASAP. That very afternoon, another visitor came by my room. Enter Dr. Christopher Crane – Chief Radiation Oncologist. Guess what? Dr. Crane was raised and educated in Virginia. https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/doctors/christopher-crane I am SO BLESSED to be able to be in, what is for ME, the best place with the best hands, hearts and minds for this rare cancer. Also, on March 8th, I officially made it 4 YEARS past my Stage 4 “get your affairs in order”, terminal diagnosis. By the way, I’ve never had an ‘affair’, so I can’t put them “in order”. HA!
We returned to NYC 11 days post-surgery to begin 15 Intensity Modulated Radiation Treatments, which meant 3 weeks for me in NYC. Not necessarily a bad thing as far as I’m concerned! IMRT uses multiple arc-ed angles and mini CT scans with each treatment. The arc outlines the actual entire tumor. My time on the ‘table’ was very quick each day. https://www.varian.com/oncology/treatment-techniques/external-beam-radiation/imrt So cool! (Really, it never felt ‘hot’)
Bill says the radiation was the LEAST expensive part of the 3 ½ weeks in the City. 😊
This Thursday will be 2 weeks post final treatment, and we head back Sunday for full CT and MRI scans. We’ll see Dr. Kemeny on Monday for results – and may possibly add Keytruda (immunotherapy) and/or more chemo. I’ll keep you all posted. Remember to Choose to Laugh, Choose to Love and Choose to Live TODAY, “Because You Can, Sir!”
We are so grateful to Kathy Conry, and Isabella, Mary Lou, the Michaels, Bryan, and Metro Baptist for praying, visiting and eating with us, and keeping us entertained, and safe and warm in the 3 weeks of nasty NY cold weather and some snow. I know we are ALL looking forward to a little seasonal warmth.
I hope to have a post-radiation GLOWING report to share soon, but today, I want to share a little “BURNING” exercise for you all to do at home. I think we could ALL use a little healing ‘burn’ of the bad feelings, doubt and fear in our lives, so let’s do this exercise together right now. Consider it an emotional/spiritual radiation burn of the “bad’ that sneaks up and grows inside of us. You’ll need a sheet of paper, pen or pencil, a bowl and a lighter or match. HERE WE GO….
ETBT – Emotion Targeted Burn Treatment
This is an affirming exercise that will help you ‘burn’ your fear and see the light in the challenge(s) you are currently facing.
1. On your sheet of paper, write the word(s) of the challenge you are facing – ONE LETTER PER LINE, VERTICALLY, in the MIDDLE of the page.
2. On the LEFT of the letters, make a column labeled GOOD.
3. On the RIGHT of the letters, make a column labeled BAD.
4. In BOTH columns write a word or phrase about your challenge word that BEGINS with that LETTER. Write a positive word or phrase on the GOOD side, and a negative word or phrase on the BAD side..
5. When you have finished BOTH sides and you have read your “results”, tear away (or cut) the right-hand side (BAD), tear in pieces, place in a bowl and light those remains on fire. [you should only do this in a safe place – away from smoke detectors and small children.]
As you watch the bad/negative become consumed in the fire, give the negative away to God. Watch and feel it disappear in the smoke and charred remains. Wash the bowl clean so no negative thoughts remain. Now, go back to the page and read what is left on the GOOD side of the list.
Here is my example (one of 3 I wrote today). Remember, yours doesn’t have to be ‘cancer-related’.
Trials and new Treatment
Opportunities to Open up and help/encourage Others
Realizing Rest and Relaxation is Required.
Unsure, feeling Useless
Metastatic growths (fear of )
Old goals and dreams may not be reachable
Reacting to every twinge or
Cut off the BAD side, burn, and let it go!
Think and be thankful for the GOOD side. Keep and let it GLOW!
Love you ALL,