I kicked cancer to the curb.

I am pleased to say that I have officially made it through cancer and all of the nasty treatments it requires to get rid of it! I had my last radiation treatment one week ago today, and it feels beyond wonderful to be done. Radiation and chemo are so different...I don't feel that they can even be compared to one another. Radiation is definitely no walk in the park, but if I can get through it....or any of this, so can anybody else. The side effects that I have experienced from radiation are a very red chest, major fatigue, esophagus pain and some trouble swallowing. For the red skin, I've been using the gel from an aloe vera plant to put on the affected skin, that helped a lot! I also made sure to keep the area really moisturized with lotion. Unfortunately there is nothing to take to help with the fatigue, so I've just made sure to rest as much as I need to, and have tried listening to my body, making sure not to overdo it. For the esophagus pain, I was given some lidocaine (which numbs) to mix with Maalox, and I took that as needed before eating. I am still having some pain swallowing even now, a week later. I heard it will last a few weeks. 

I had an appointment with my Oncologist last week for the first time since finishing chemo. He set up an appointment to have my port removed last Friday, which I was a little hesitant to do since the chances of relapsing from Hodgkin's is the highest in the first 18 months...but my Doctor said I'm not going to relapse and it's fine to remove it now...I guess he is also a psychic on the side? I should just be happy that he is so confident...I'd be more happy if he wasn't checking and responding to other patients emails during my 15 minute appointment with him. I couldn't imagine doing chemo without a port...I don't know how people do it. I've had some horrible pain in both of my arms, mostly when I wake up in the morning, and my Doctor said that that is just my "souvenir" from chemo...lucky me?!! He said it "should" go away within the next year. We also figured out a "post-cancer plan," I will get my blood drawn every 3 months, and then I will have a CT scan done in December, and after that I will have one every 6 months for the next 3 years. God I hope that it NEVER comes back. I asked my Doctor about nutrition and supplements that I should be taking for my new "cancer-free body," and he said to just do what any other 26 year old girl does. So I asked to be referred to a Dietitian or Nutritionist...clearly there is no way I can treat my body like any other girl my age after all that I have gone through to be healthy again....I want to "keep" my new healthy body from ever having cancer again! Or at least do all I can to help it stay cancer-free...

A few people have asked what my plan is now that I am done with cancer...and my response to that is I will NEVER be done with cancer. Sadly, it is something that will be embedded in my life forever and will constantly be in the back of my mind. But I refuse to let it take over my life. Thinking about all that I've been through the last 6 months makes my head spin. It is completely overwhelming and just seems like a horrible nightmare. It's funny, everybody tells me how strong I am, which is the best compliment...but I don't really feel that I've been strong at all. You either choose to be positive and get through the treatments the best you can....or you can let it bring you down to a dark place you don't want to be. I just chose the more positive route.

I have some time off of work, and I plan on taking this time to heal (physically, mentally, emotionally) and hopefully rebuild some strength that I lost. I am a true believer that anybody who goes through cancer treatment of any sort, should take the time their body needs to recuperate when they are finished and in remission. It is good to start living life normally again, but life is anything but normal after what I've been through. Post-cancer treatment healing should be required if you ask me, it's just part of the whole process of getting better. A lot of people jump right back into their normal life once treatment is done, but I am going to do anything in my power to prevent a relapse...which means taking great care of myself and restoring my health.

I wanted to give a little update on my "hair situation." I now have a full head of hair...well almost! It has filled in so much and is almost wearable as a short "do!" It looks kind of like a little boys haircut, but I am just glad that it's growing more. I am still wearing my wig and hat combo, but CANNOT wait until I no longer have to. My brows and lashes never fell out completely, so those have just started growing in normally again. They both got really sparse, but are filling in more. My wonderful sister bought me RevitaLash, which is supposed to really help the lashes grow longer and get fuller...I'm excited to see how that works! And I finally had to go get my brows waxed because they grew in so fast. The pic to the right is from a couple of weeks ago.

Although I will not have anything to update on here as far as my treatments go, I will be sure to update on how everything is going for me in my adjustment to life "after cancer." I just want to say, the support that I have received through this "journey" has been so amazing! My family, friends, and even strangers have given me so much love and encouragement...Thank you all SO much for that!! I appreciate it so so so much!!!

p.s.) September is Lymphoma awareness month! Wear Violet in support of it! :)

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