The results are in
Today is our anniversary. Mark and I have been married six years. This morning I got the call with results from my colonoscopy. What an awkward conversation.
The nurse said, “The test reveals they are serrated melanoma.”
“What does that mean?”
“It means you’ll want to have a yearly colonoscopy to watch for polyps.”
“Does that mean they are pre-cancerous, and not yet cancer?”
“We don’t like to use those words because we don’t want to freak anyone out.”
“Ok, well the doctor told me they were either cancerous, or pre-cancerous, so I’m only going to freak out if I don’t know which one it is.”
“They are pre-cancerous.”
“Yeah, ok. That’s the opposite of freakout time for someone that just spent a year in cancer treatment. I consider it good news.”
“Oh well then good, I’m glad.”
So today I learned that “serrated melanoma” means pre-cancerous. It’s not the best news, but it does mean that I don’t immediately have cancer that needs treatment. I do need to watch my colon closely and have yearly colonoscopies to hopefully continue to catch cancer before it catches me. Still having pre-cancerous polyps forming despite having completely changed my diet is a bit discouraging. I was hoping for better. I was hoping that I had some sort of control over the return of cancer. I’m used to seeing people in this situation saying, “Well if I’m going to get cancer anyway, why try?” But I’m not there. I know that trying, even though it might not prevent the return of cancer, will still make me healthier and won’t give the cancer anything to accelerate it’s growth. I’m going to keep working hard to avoid those things that help cancer, and do the things that are known to help prevent cancer, or slow it’s growth. The results don’t need to be perfect for me to keep caring about myself.
It’s been over a month since I finished chemo. At the moment I can still feel it’s effects, and some of them only started after I finished chemo, which shows how long this stuff stays in my system. The most recent effect is neuropathy, meaning my hands and feet are tingly and a bit numb or even occasionally without feeling. If it gets any worse I’ll have to call my oncologist, but at this point it’s just annoying and getting in the way of typing, texting, and crocheting. It also makes this ghost-effect of feeling like I have really dry skin, but nothing soothes it. I can stick my foot in a bucket of lotion and it’s still going to feel like my skin is cracked and dry. If I feel my foot, it feels soft and not at all as dry as my mind says it is. Having numb or tingling hands and feet also effects my balance, so I’ve been miss stepping and/or falling over. Funny, I already do that on my own, I don’t need any more challenge to my balance. I’m not feeling sick to my stomach any more, but I am still effected by a foggy brain with difficulty thinking clearly. It comes and goes, as does my energy. One day I can spend the entire day working and cleaning, and the next two days I’m too tired to do anything. Slowly I am gaining more good days than bad ones. I’m almost to full recovery and I’m so excited for the day when I’m fully there.
I’m watching myself closely for PTSD. Having a good attitude through a bad situation makes the journey easier, but it also means I need to be careful I’m not ignoring any emotions that need tending to. Throughout my cancer experience I’ve seen a lot of information regarding cancer survivors suffering from PTSD. I’m glad I’m to the point where this is all I need to worry about, and I’m definitely going to take it seriously, because I want to return to life fully, not partially, not in constant fear, and not with a stress that eats at me the way cancer did. My mental health is just as important to me as my physical health. Physical health can be seen on scans and measured and treated. Mental health is a bit sneakier, but it’s just as important to keep an eye on and take care of. What good is a healthy body if my mind isn’t healthy as well?