“I’m a student at Emory”

That’s what the resident working with our kids’ pediatrician told me and Sam this week, at our appointment to make sure Sam’s ear infection has cleared.

My 7-year-old’s eyebrows shot up:  “Emory?  My mom goes there…she had surgery for cancer…she was bald…she’s going to have another surgery…”  And on and on and on.

We are all doing great.  But the experience of the past year does always seem to be there, near the surface.

3 Months Post-Treatment
Yesterday, Joey and I saw Dr. Torres, my radiation oncologist, for the first time since I finished radiation.  For the next few years, I’ll see one of my doctors every 3 months.

No scans.  No bloodwork.  We’ve been told that a recurrence is usually discovered when a patient reports something unusual.  So, in addition to a physical exam, Dr. Torres asked a lot of questions.

I only have small complaints.  I’m fine during the day, but exhausted by 5pm.  My left arm fatigues quickly and it sometimes feels like it weighs 100lbs (going over the obstacles in the mud run a few weeks ago).  Despite my stretching and exercise, under my arm is actually getting tighter.

But mostly the thickening under my arm reminds me too much of swollen lymph nodes.  I want to feel normal, so that if anything is ever not normal again, I will notice it.

Dr. Torres said that I’m still feeling the effects of radiation.  There is new cording under my arm, for which she told me to return to physical therapy for lymphatic massage.  She could also feel a lot of scar tissue.  She prescribed the drug Trental, which has been shown to reduce “radiation-induced fibrosis” when taken with oral Vitamin E.  But, both pills have to be taken 3X a day, for 6 months, and many patients don’t keep up with it.

Most importantly, though, is what she didn’t feel – any kind of “roundish nodule.”  So, I’m clear until my next check-up, which will be July 15 with Dr. O’Regan.

Our Charmed Life
We’re going to celebrate with a grand family adventure to Costa Rica!Costa Rica 4/6-4/14Our jam-packed itinerary has been planned by Thomson Family Adventures.  We leave tomorrow and we’ll spend the 1st night in San José.

  • Sunday, we head toward the Sarapiqui region and stop at Poas Volcano and La Paz Waterfall Gardens.  Monday, it’s whitewater rafting and La Tirimbina Chocolate Workshop.
  • Then, we’re off to Arenal for ziplining, the Hanging Bridges of Arenal and canyoning that includes rappelling and descending cliffs and waterfalls!  We’ll also visit the town of La Fortuna, near the Arenal Volcano, and Eco Termales Hot Springs.
  • Thursday, we have a float trip along the Corobici River on our way to the Pacific North Coast.
  • We’ll spend our last 3 days at the Flamingo Beach Resort in Guanacaste.  Saturday, we visit a local school for a half-day service project.  The kids have written to pen pals there and may be able to meet them.
  • We fly home from Liberia on Sunday, 4/14.



  1. Christine says:

    Nicole, it’s so great to catch up with you through the blog. I have missed checking in for the past 3-4 weeks, and I had the pleasure of getting to read several posts at once. As usual, you are so on top of what you’re going through. I’m glad you have something you can do about the fibrosis, and I hope you find it easier and more worthwhile to stick with the meds than some other people.

    I can’t wait to see pictures and a report on your trip to Costa Rica. Here’s wishing you a safe and event-free return today!

    Much love to you all–

  2. I am sitting next to your parents en route to Arizona, and we are having lots of fun conversations. I work in Cancer research amongst also being an insane destination rock climber. Your site is inspiring, I would like to interview you. At the moment I just interviewed in England a rock climber diagnosed with prostate cancer who is selling T-shirts to raise money to donate funds to cancer research in all continents. It is called Climbers Against Cancer (CAC). You should check John Ellison out too. Love your site and I will be following it.

    Doris :-)

  3. Ann Chase says:

    Enjoy your much deserved vacation in Costa Rica!


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