All over but the waiting

Well, it’s over. I had my last chemotherapy treatment on Thursday — 6 cycles of two treatments each, every two weeks since January 25. Actually now that I think about it, it was every week for the first month because of my participation in a clinical trial that involved the administering of a fifth drug in addition to the usual four-drug (ABVD) regimen for Hodgkins’ lymphoma.

To celebrate, I made chocolate chip cookies and took them to my wonderful oncologist and his amazing nurses to celebrate their finally being able to get rid of me. After all the ups and downs and complications of the last six months, I told Doc that I couldn’t understand why he hadn’t shoved me off on one of his colleagues that he doesn’t like. (He told me that unfortunately, right now he doesn’t have any colleagues he doesn’t like.) Doc ate two of the cookies during my appointment so I think he liked them. He did ask me if I had put anything in them to pay him back for giving me poison every 2 weeks for 6 months. He made me eat one first before he would eat his.

When I went back to the infusion suite for my chemo, I was surprised to be presented with a certificate for “graduating” from chemotherapy, signed by a number of the nurses (and Doc). As the last of the four drugs I usually receive was being infused, one of the nurses who had treated me several times over the past six months (but not today) came over and asked if it was true that it was my last visit. I said yes, and she said “great!” and went away. Then she came back just before I left with another certificate, saying that several of the nurses I saw a lot hadn’t had a chance to sign the first one so they made another. I may have teared up a little bit, but I’m sure it was just allergies. Oncology nurses (both the outpatient clinic and the inpatient floor) are amazing people. It can’t be easy to know you are going to lose many of your patients, but you’d never know it from their consistently upbeat and encouraging demeanor.

So overall the day turned out better than it started. The woman who normally gives me a ride on chemo days (a former co-worker who lives in West Branch) forgot to pick me up this morning so I had to drive myself in, which made me a little bit late but it all worked out. She left a voice mail message for me this afternoon apologizing all over herself for forgetting, but honestly I’m surprised she remembered all those other times. It was so great to have a ride every week, because I am often a little groggy right after chemo (a side effect of the pre-medications they administer to prevent nausea and allergic reactions). And I didn’t feel so guilty about imposing on someone since she wasn’t really going out of her way (her husband works at the hospital and she always drops him off and picks him up anyway).

What now? Now I have to wait 3 weeks before going back for a PET/CT scan that will tell us whether I am in remission or in trouble. It will be a long 3 weeks. All distractions will be gratefully accepted.

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4 thoughts on “All over but the waiting

  1. congratulations. I hope everything turns out ok with the final testing. My mother has/had the same thing. However, she had a major reaction to the chemo, and her lungs shut down….so, she ended up in the ICU on a respirator to give her time to heal, and had a stroke. grr…. this was in March of this year.so, it can be worse. 🙂 Maybe it will you with recovery and the future. Have a great one!!!!

  2. Thanks for the good wishes, Germ. I’m sorry to hear about your mom. I have had relatively minor problems with my lungs, but enough that we skipped one of the chemo drugs for the last few treatments. It’s apparently a fairly common side effect, but sounds like your mom got the worst of it.

  3. Hi Julia,Congrats on finishing your treatment! I am a Lymphoma survivor, too…12 years and counting. I also work for a cancer nonprofit that specializes in the promotion of cancer clinical trials as a treatment option. I was wondering if you would be interested in providing us with a testimonial of your clinical trial experience? I can be reached at smyers@cancertrialshelp.org. Our website is CancerTrialsHelp.org

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