Penny’s Blog

Archive for January 2009

Since I had chemo and a doctor’s visit on Wednesday, wanted to make a couple of notes for those who are interested.

I asked the doctor, “Just making sure: Does the fact that my scan was clean mean that I really no longer have lymphoma?” and he said, “Yes.”

The next chemo treatment (early February) should be the last one; then we’ll start discussing follow-up. We will consult with a radiologist, and Dr. Van expects that the radiologist will recommend radiation as a preventive measure. It’s going to be pretty hard to sell me on that. First, as you’ll know from having read this blog, I’m running out of patience with treatment and side effects. Second, I am choosing not to think about the possibility of recurrence (yes, this is what we call “denial”).

I asked when I could get the port removed. Dr. Van said when I come back 3-4 weeks after my last chemo, if my blood counts are good enough for me to have surgery, we can schedule it then. I’m eager to get this device out of me so I can stop feeling like a chemotherapy receptacle and start feeling like a normal person.

Dr. V. said that the slower recovery time and increasing fatigue after each treatment is not imaginary. In fact, he said that I should allow about 9 months after the final chemotherapy infusion for my body to heal completely. So although I’ll definitely be feeling better in March, I may not be in the zip-a-dee-doo-dah category until maybe November.

In the side-effect department, I continue to gain weight and lose body hair (just a few eyelashes left). The latest development is hot flashes: Chemo appears to have kick-started me into menopause. This is common with chemo and may or may not be permanent. If any of you have experience with herbal supplements or the like, let me know.

As always, love and thanks to everyone for your support and patience.


I’ll get back to the mundane posts later, but I want to take a moment to mention my friend Rebecca.

Rebecca was diagnosed a year ago with colon and liver cancer. Since then, she’s endured a host of debilitating symptoms, and many trips to the hospital.

Whenever I post here to kvetch about hair loss, fatigue, or runny nose, I’m also thinking about Rebecca and what she’s had to deal with. Her experience helps me keep mine in perspective.

A couple of times lately people have told me I’m courageous, and it’s made me a little uncomfortable. For one thing, I don’t want that kind of pressure—I want permission to be self-pitying and angry. For another, I don’t know that “courage” accurately describes dealing with cancer: You simply do what you have to do, day by day.

So I won’t call Rebecca courageous, either. But I will say I admire and respect her—not for how she’s played the crummy hand she’s been dealt lately, but for how she’s led her life all along.

Rebecca, I wish we could have become crotchety old ladies together. I hope we’ll get some more time together, and I’ll sure miss you when you go.

Update 11/14:  We just got news that Rebecca died last night.  Her illness was lengthy, but the end was unexpectedly quick.  Her loving family was there with her.

I’ve always admired the author Daniel Pinkwater. It occurred to me yesterday that, with my bald head and weight gain, I’m coming to resemble him.


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  • dswope: I just happened by after my I received an email from a close colegue that he was headig for IVPalooza. All I knew was that it was a form of chemo.
  • Brian: Hi Penny; When I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma I found your site. Reading about what you went through was incredibly helpful to me. Tha
  • Tricia: Still here; still caring; still rooting you on!