~ PET scan results…Not even a wild blueberry!!

Last week I had the post chemo PET scan to measure progress. Today I received a call with the results. The most important words that I remember are… “No evidence of…  the scan was clear…” So I said to my doctor, ‘not even a wild blueberry?’ his response “NOT EVEN A WILD BLUEBERRY!! ”  Of course I told my doctor that sparkle power is the best!!   This is the most amazing news!!!!   The absolute best way to end 2015.

On January 6 I will have the CT scan for radiation planning. I asked if radiation is still necessary and yes it is to ensure I am totally clear and no cells remain. Radiation will begin about 2 weeks after this scan. 

For the last few weeks I have been fairly quiet and dealing with a new side effect, chemo induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN). You know it’s special when they give it an acronym! ha! I have been working on my mental game with this one and broadening  the sparkle powers to the nerves as well as cells. I had a short pity party over this since it is greatly annoying to have weak and numb arms off and on throughout the day and night. I am confident that my sparkle energy will heal this issue, it’s just a matter of time.

I am thrilled!  What great news to receive to start a new year. 🙂

I sparkle on…one day at a time!  🙂

~ onto the radiation phase…

Today I met with a radiation oncologist and had an overview of my condition and discussion of the path forward. With each doctor I meet they are always interested in what I was doing in Italy when I became ill. I always smile and say studying Italian language and enjoying life!  🙂

It was interesting to see the CT and PET imaging and have them explained. It was also news to me that my lymphoma is indeed stage 2, meaning that it is in two locations, primarily the bulky mass (the orange as I like to call it) and two small spots in the lymph nodes in the centre of my chest. 

It’s good to know that this treatment will be very targeted and focus on the areas of cells that may be remaining. Also that my type of lymphoma responds very well to radiation therapy. I have a PET scan scheduled for December 22 and following that the radiation oncologist will review the imaging to create the treatment plan. I will have another CT scan prior to the beginning of treatments as well. Treatment consists of 15 days and hopefully begin in January. I honestly can’t recall what they said about follow up because they usually joke that I will be back in Italy by then. 

We also discussed short term and long term side effects. Which sound like they will be much easier to deal with than what chemo gave me. I won’t get into the details as I continue to believe it is important for me to be present in the moment and deal with my health on a day to day basis. 

I am so relieved to be done chemo and feeling good. Time for another GI Jane haircut tomorrow, I would much rather shave my head again than have it feel awful just to have a little hair. My silver mohawk will grow back in no time! I will continue to rest and gain strength for the new phase of treatment in the new year. 

I sparkle on…one day at a time.   🙂

~ chemo is a wrap!! :)

I had my 6th chemo treatment on Monday and it went well. I am feeling pretty good and resting at home.  

It was interesting to learn that my neutrophil level dropped again. Apparently the injection will cause an upward spike and then it will normalize.  So I will continue to lay low while germ season is among us. 

Here is a little letter I wrote to chemotherapy to say goodbye on Sunday. 

Dear Chemotherapy, Tomorrow is our last date. I am grateful to you for shrinking the orange in my chest. Yet I am not happy about losing my hair for a second time. This is a cruel joke. It is one thing to deal with the side effects of you after each date, yet when good things start happening to my body please have some mercy! I don’t let you get me down very often but I have to tell you I am pretty bummed to see my beautiful silver hair thinning! I can get through one last date with you and then happily send you on your way. My cells are ready and armed with their sparkle shields to deflect you and direct you to where you belong. Regards, Cinzia

I am happy to move into the next phase of treatment in the new year. I will know more on Friday. 

I sparkle on…one day at a time.  🙂



~ ready for chemo #6…happy!

It’s that time again. Today was the day for blood analysis and doctor check up. I am so thrilled that my neutrophil level is up, way up!! To a normal healthy level in fact! My body is ready for chemo #6 on Monday.  

YAY!!! I am so ready to be done. I have been laughing at how frustrated I have become. My body is uncomfortable and annoyed with the side effects of treatment. I noticed that I am restless and wander aimlessly around my house, and my house is not very big. I feel like Vodka when he has a hairball and tries to run away from himself. I realized that I too wander in an effort to escape the discomfort I feel, unfortunately it doesn’t work. There is hope…one more chemo to go!!!  

I asked my doctor questions in what I like to call “what to expect after chemo”.  I should write a book after this…ha! Now I have a better idea of the timeline for the next three months. I will know more details when I meet with the radiation oncologist next Friday. I will detail the timeline after that appointment. 

One of the key questions today was “when will I be able to travel again?”  Of course I have my priorities straight! After eleven months of having health issues I have reached a point of frustration and need to have something meaningful to me to be optimistic about. My doctor was supportive and will keep my travel wishes in mind as we continue to monitor my health! The idea of being able to plan a trip, book a ticket and get on an airplane has me giddy!!!  🙂

I sparkle on…one day at a time.    🙂

~ chemo #5 ~ went well!

Chemo #5 is done and went well. Only a small wave of sweating and chills that was reminiscent of chemo #1 and scared me a little. Thankfully it passed. Today was a restful day. At the end of the week I will have an injection to help keep the neutrophil level up and reduce the risk of infection. Hopefully this also means I will be ready for the last chemo at the end of November. 

One more to go!!!!

I sparkle on…one day at a time.  🙂

~ chemo #5 ~ is a go!!!

After yet another round of blood work this morning, I have received good news! My neutrophil level is up, in fact it is the highest it has been since I began treatment. This is fantastic news! As a friend said “Whoohoo!! Yay for you!!! Never thought we would be celebrating getting to do chemo!!!” This makes me giggle and is so true! I will have chemo on Monday morning.  🙂

Hopefully things are now back on schedule and the last chemo treatment will be at the end of November. I do have an appointment with the radiation oncologist in early December to make the plan for radiation treatments. Meanwhile I continue to visualize that the mass is gone and the cells are in repair mode. I also encourage my bone marrow to function normally.

I had hoped to be done treatments by this time based on what I was told initially. The reality is that I have a few months to go and this will continue into 2016. These last few weeks have been frustrating with delays, weekly blood work and the concern of very low immunity. I keep smiling and try to remain patient. It is what it is and I am truly thankful to be feeling much better. 

I sparkle on…one day at a time.  🙂

~ chemo #5 ~ the delay continues…

Over the last week I have had more blood drawn than I care to remember. Since my neutrophil level is so low, additional blood tests were done to verify if my body is fighting a virus. These results will take about two weeks. This is all somewhat bizarre since I feel fine. I now have to be careful since it is the beginning of flu season, so I begin my hibernation, just in time since we are seeing our first snowfall today. 

This morning I saw a different doctor than my usual one at the centre, after the usual question and answer session and my treatment is postponed another week. Next week I will have my blood tested and see the doctor yet again. At that time we will know if we proceed with chemo as usual or add another drug to my repertoire that will help the neutrophil level increase. 

We also spoke about radiation, she explained the need for radiation is due to the subtype of the non-hodgkin lymphoma, which is primary mediastinal. She went on to explain that with this subtype, cells may remain at a microscopic level and this is what radiation will target. Also that radiation will likely take place before the PET scan, it depends on the radiation oncologist. I learn something new every day.

It is a little disappointing to be experiencing a delay in my treatment schedule, this week would have been chemo #6. Oh well, it is what it is. I am staying warm in my house and am almost done knitting another pair of socks. I will continue to relax at home and hope that my bone marrow steps up its game. 

I sparkle on…one day at a time.   🙂

~ chemo #5 ~ postponed again…

This morning I went for the usual pre chemo blood work and received a call within 2 hours. My neutrophils have dropped again to a very low level. So I am postponed another week. Next week I will have blood work again and see the doctor to evaluate before we decide to proceed with treatment. 

For the next week I will stay home and not have any visitors. This is the time I will be reaching out to friends to shop and deliver for me. 

Please send positive thoughts my way. 

I sparkle on…one day at a time.   🙂

~ gratitude and the geek in me…

Over the last few months being grateful for the little things is something I think of daily. In a world where we can pay to ‘enhance’ almost any part of ourselves, I look at myself and appreciate simply having eyebrows, eyelashes, finger nails and fuzzy hair on my head. My eyes are clear and shiny and the large black bags I carried under my eyes since January are gone. I think it’s great that I have an appetite and have gained 5 pounds! How often do you hear a woman say that? On days that my energy is up I do a little exercise and have started attending a weekly yoga class. Some days I do more restful things like read and knit socks. It’s all good!

I am so grateful for family and friends that continue to support me in so many ways. Little surprises continue to arrive in the mail and add sparkle to my days. I have the best neighbour in the world! She does so much to help me around my yard and even removes dead mice from the traps in the basement. Yes I am wimpy about mice, even when they are dead they are just creepy! Vodka is not doing his job as a cat. 

All along the geek in me has been fascinated with my body’s response to this adventure. Since I began to feel ill in January I have listened to my body and acknowledged emotional and physical feelings, good and bad. I am amazed that in the midst of treatment my skin is clear and my frown lines have relaxed. I have more energy than I thought I would, based on what the doctors tell you to expect. Having said that, on days that my body tells me to rest, I listen, drop everything and take a nap. What I notice most are the markers left by chemo #1, most noticeable was the hair loss at exactly two weeks after initial treatment. As time has gone on I notice the zebra stripe in my eyebrows, the individual hairs have a clear spot and then a change in texture. This is where they break off or become thicker while new hair continue to grow. I take this as an opportunity to repair over plucked eyebrows. My eyelashes seem confused, while I still have eyelashes they are shorter and thinner with a few old long lashes remaining. I find it so interesting to observe these changes. I have always been body aware and more than ever appreciate my health and the little things about my body that people so often take for granted.

I believe that I am in the healing phase. In my mind the wild blueberry is gone and cells are repairing. In the last few weeks my hair has begun to grow back, I take this as a sign that I am becoming healthier and my immune system is strengthening. I also take Vodka’s behaviour as a good sign. Prior to my being ill he used to always jump or crawl onto my chest to snuggle when I am lying on the sofa. For the last few months he has sat beside me, and made a habit of walking around my body. Well, a few days ago he crawled onto my chest to snuggle like he used to. I think he senses that my health is better. 

I continue to think positive thoughts and visualize returning to my natural state of health. As I head into chemo #5 this Wednesday I will be visualizing myself healthy, happy and enjoying life…likely in Italy. 😉

I sparkle on…one day at a time.  🙂

~ chemo #5 ~ postponed…

My treatment has been postponed because my neutrophil level has dropped since Tuesday. With Canadian Thanksgiving on Monday I am likely looking at the week of October 19 for the next treatment. Such is life, my body isn’t ready so I will relax, read and continue knitting socks. 

I am not surprised that my body is not ready, I feel tired and it seems like I just had the last treatment. This is the first time my energy level feels noticeably low…time for more positive thinking and more sparkles!! Maybe even a turkey dinner this weekend 🙂

I sparkle on…one day at a time.   🙂