Thursday, October 22, 2009

Nothing Like a Good Party Before a Storm

To celebrate my Touchdown, I decided to have a Negative PET Scan Party. It's a little odd, but way better than a birthday or holiday in my book. I found some cool lung people for the invitation:

I invited friends and family far and wide, ordered up some party trays, made a batch of knock-your-socks-off sangria, and arranged a wall of PET/CT reports, along with diagrams Dr. Georgiades made showing the progress of my ablated tumors. My kitten, Sadie, even came out to investigate the festivities. My friend Eliza came from Chicago, and my cousin Art came from Seattle. A good time was had by all. That was on Friday, October 16th.

Late Sunday night, after taking Art and Eliza to the airport, I became very sick with flu like symptoms. I was becoming dehydrated and was unable to take in fluids. At 2 a.m. I packed a small bag and drove 45 minutes to the ER. The hospital where my Captain, Dr. Francis Forte (see November 16, 2008 post) practices, is out of range for ambulances in my town.

I knew something was wrong a few days prior to the party because my blood counts came back wacky at a routine visit with Dr. Forte. I have been in Englewood Hospital and Medical Center since Monday, when I was told that I have leukemia, which is cancer of the bone marrow. After lots of tests, procedures, more tests, and a couple of biopsies, the final diagnosis is Acute Myeloid Leukemia or AML.

As I sit here, in the hospital room where I will spend at least the next 40 days or so, I am getting my first day's dose of chemotherapy. I will get one very strong drug for 3 days, along with another drug which will last for 7 days. This is called the Induction phase, where the chemo is crashing my bone marrow. Then, with no immune system whatsoever, I will recover for the next 7 days. Hopefully, my counts will have started to rise by then (if not, I'll wait a few more days till they do) and I will have a second bone marrow biopsy. If there are leukemia cells in my bone marrow, I will have to get more chemo. If there are no leukemia cells, I will be in "complete" remission. That's the new goalpost in this never ending football game: Complete Remission.

It's likely that I'll need several "blood products" (more cancer speak), such as transfusions. The Community Blood Services organization in Paramus is a possible place to donate specifically for me. But Dr. Forte would need to give them specific instructions as to exactly what I need, so we're not quite there yet. That would happen during the second week, when I'm building back my blood counts.

So how am I coping with all this? Well, this has been very tough. It's my 3rd cancer diagnosis - the first was 9 years ago when I was diagnosed with Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma of the Breast (ACCB), and the second was almost 3 years ago exactly when I found out that the ACCB had metastasized to my lungs. This one is the scariest. There's no solid mass to attack. Bone marrow is all over. But I beat it twice before when the odds were against me. I can do this. It's my thing - fighting cancer. I'd like to find a new thing, but that's not going to happen for awhile. So I'm ready for battle. Today I had my first solid food since Sunday, and let's just say that I've already called for a consult with the hospital's dietician. My diet of no red meat, no dairy, no white flour, no sugar and no inflammatory foods just went out the window. I can't have any fresh fruits or vegetables, and I can't receive any flowers because I'm so susceptible to infection. At least they have soy milk.

I haven't cried much. I suppose I will at some point. What makes me tear up is the outpouring of love and support from all my friends, family and co-workers. All the offers to help overwhelm me, especially since I live alone and my family is out of state. Yes, I'm angry, and I'm tired. And I miss my kitty. But really, I'm just grateful that I'm in the hands of my Captain and that I have such a loving circle around me. I believe that God has a plan for me - for us all. This is just one more "hmmm, I can't wait to see what this was all about" reflection. One day at a time. I still believe that Life is Good.

Pura Vida!




  1. If there is anything I can do, even from so far away.. if it's just to listen when you need to unload.. you call me! I don't care what time of day, or night... My thoughts, prayers, and every ounce of positive energy I have are yours. i love you Kit.. Art

  2. Oh Kathy, I do believe that God has a plan. I was just listening to a gospel CD as I came to work and one of the songs was the Perfect Storm. I do believe that when we all have the "storms" of life that we must go through, but that in each case, if we believe that GOD is Good and Loving and that He will never give us what we cannot handle, then we will make it through these "Perfect Storms" and be all the better for it. You are in my prayers and thoughts. You are also one of my sheros. God Bless and Keep You. Love Eleanor

  3. Hi Kathy, I'm Sherry a friend of Arts' here in Seattle and want you to know I have been tracking your progress thru Art for the past 3 years. Know that I have been praying for you and will continue to pray for you. Love, Sherry

  4. May God bless you Kathy


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