Penny’s Blog

Onward and outward

Posted on: February 5, 2009

Yes, I have finished my sixth and last chemotherapy infusion, and am now moving into the next phase of treatment and followup.

Dr. Van Deventer gave me a sheet outlining what’s coming up in the next weeks and months:

  • an appointment with the radiologist to discuss options
  • followup with Dr. Van in 3 weeks
  • a followup PET scan (to make sure there’s nothing coming back)
  • a Panoflex (like a dental x-ray) to make sure the bone loss in my jaw is no worse than it was in September
  • removal of the port

I’ll visit Dr. V for followups every 3 months for a year, then possibly do another scan.  He’ll also talk to me about vaccines around that time.  (I hadn’t heard about vaccines—will have to find out about that.)

The doc said it’s tough to know how often to do scans.  On the plus side, you want to be able to catch any recurrence in the early stages; the earlier a recurrence shows up, the nastier it’s going to be, so early intervention is crucial.   On the minus side, scans themselves expose you to radiation; and also, the fact is that if you scan a body often enough, you’re bound to find something unusual—something that may be perfectly benign.  It’s an important question in managing cancer, but as Dr. Van says, no one will ever fund studies on it because there’s no money in it.

Marion was my companion once again for chemo day, and in the clinic we sat next to a nice couple from Denton, NC.  They’ve been married 45 years.  The wife has been getting chemo for 3 1/2 years, but she was pretty matter-of-fact about it—no self-pity there.

I believe I’m experiencing something like cancer survivor guilt.  Yeah, I had cancer, but it was smooth sailing—people have been incredibly kind to me, I was cured, and I’ve come through these several months relatively unscathed.  During this time, a dear friend of mine has died, other people I know have been newly diagnosed or had recurrences, and the suffering I’ve seen and heard about is wrenching.  It’s not so much that I’m angry at cancer (though I am pretty damn angry)—I’m angry at the human condition.  And I don’t believe that this suffering is God’s plan, or karma, or in any way justified:  It’s just f*cking rotten luck.

So I’m grateful, but also sad, and wishing I knew how to help reduce people’s pain.


4 Responses to "Onward and outward"

HOORAY!!!! Hugs and kisses all around!! I know you’re relieved to have the hard part behind you. Keep on keepin’ on. Your hair will be back soon! Hopefully life will once again take on some semblance of normalcy.
Love, Jonathan

Penny, I want to repeat a comment I made at the beginning — you’re a wonderful writer — revealing but not whiny, clear, correct, and very interesting. (“Interesting” you say. Well, you didn’t want to be boring, did you?!!!!) Maybe “compelling” is a better way to say it. Thank you very much for the links to the Food for Life and similar programs. I’m going to check those out.
I’m so happy that you’re finished with chemo and sailing on. Go, Penny! And find a way to keep writing.

I left out the important thing about your writing: truthful. So hard to be truthful, I think.

Penny, I totally agree with you — suffering is not a part of God’s plan, or karma, or a way of making you stronger or better — it is just f*cking bad luck.

Glad that you are finished with chemo and are movin’ on


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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!


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