Cold Hands, Warm Heart

Family Photo 12/14Next month will be 3 years since I was diagnosed.  My life is full and active and not-at-all about cancer, so check-up days are surreal.  And emotional.

During treatment, Emory was the only place I felt I belonged.  Now, I am out of place in my healthfulness.  And I get overwhelmed with empathy for the people in the waiting rooms.  Endless appointments, bodies that are always hurting, life or death decisions to make for which they’ve received no training.

If anything, it’s all a heavy reminder that life can change in an instant. Oh, how we need to cherish what we have!

Flashbacks as I walk through the halls.
Going up and down those stairs to raise my blood counts so I could stay on my chemo schedule.

The huge guy in the lab who scared me with his gruffness.  Then made me laugh talking smack about his friends on the Emory softball team.  Then became my favorite person on the planet when he shared the climbing stairs/drinking Coke secret.

The kids playing Queen of Hearts on that bench while they waited for me to get my Neulasta shot.

Being irritated by the “washing hands saves lives” signs in all of the bathrooms.

Going home after a 12-hour day, grateful for the meal on the front porch and the friends who acted like having our kids over for the longest playdate ever wasn’t inconvenient.

3-months Check-up
On 12/5, I saw Joan at the Survivorship Clinic.  Physical exam, bloodwork to check liver function and make sure there’s not evidence of secondary blood cancers.  And, talking.

Most recurrences are discovered because of something the patient reports, so they ask and I tell about every little physical thing.

But there’s not much to complain about!  I do have intermittent pain in my left arm – from a nerve or enlarged lymphatic vessel – and sometimes I get itches deep under my skin that I can’t scratch.  Because I’m still numb, I have scratched myself bloody.  But it’s all just nerves growing back.

Raynaud's syndromeMy other symptom is “Raynaud’s syndrome.”  It’s not unique to cancer survivors, but the cause of mine is almost certainly chemo. When my hands get cold, my fingers get prickly, then numb. Then they hurt and turn white.  The cool, damp weather we’ve been having makes it almost a daily issue.  I’ve dropped groceries, lost hold of our dog’s leash and (gasp!) not been able to use my phone.   But as soon as I can warm up, all is ok.  Nothing to do but try to prevent it.

Thank you, Santa, for putting hand warmers in my stocking!

My next appointment is March 6 with Dr. Zelnak.  She co-developed my clinical trial with Dr. O’Regan, who has left Emory for another position.

We’ll be forever grateful to Dr. O’Regan and wish her the best.

Thanks for checking in!  All is good – I’m a lucky one.