Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Chemo Count-DONE

While I am extremely passionate about things that are important to me, I am rarely emotional. Consequently, I have been relatively stoic since my cancer schmantzer odyssey began.  My LAST chemo treatment was on Monday, and most people would have projected that I would have been bouncing off the walls with happiness.  However, that was not the case. A week and a half ago I was going to run some errands when I got into a fender bender a few hundred feet away from my driveway.  While I wasn’t hurt in the accident and I have no cuts or bruises, my seat belt pulled tight and did its job. However, my car certainly was hurt, so the insurance company decided that fixing it would not be worth it. Even though it was just a car, we had had a long history of 19 years together, and I felt like crying every time I looked at Yellow Bird’s crushed right fender.  Yes, I name my cars.

Practically, it wasn’t hard getting into Yellow Bird;  I simply opened the door and dropped my rear end in the seat, but the older we have both gotten, the more difficult it was to get out of the car in a seemly manner.  However, now I will be forced to buy a more age appropriate car, but one that still has some feistiness. I am sad to lose my sweet, little car.

Moving right along, I had a scary balance issue a few nights later. I didn’t feel dizzy, but my body felt totally out of control where I felt like Linda Blair in the Exorcist.  Thankfully, my head wasn’t spinning, but I grabbed for my bed, for the dresser, for the wall, for the bathroom sink to try to retain my balance, and then I propped myself up on my bed the rest of the night wondering what had just happened. 

The next morning I contacted my doctor’s office, and we concluded that more than likely, this episode was caused by one of the more potent chemo drugs, so we decided to discontinue that for my last treatment.  All of a sudden, it made sense that every time I have an appointment, one of the first questions that  the nurses ask is if I had fallen since the last visit.  

I usually chalk up these side effects as yet another in the long list of ingredients in the crap sandwich that life has dealt me this year.  However, when life puts issues on my menu that I do not understand,  getting information and facts help me put things in perspective.  Thankfully, my oncology team always shoots straight with me.

Yesterday was my LAST chemo treatment.  I have to admit that I felt a sense of trepidation and anxiety as we got closer to the hospital. I have been doing my chemo countdown since July, and now all of a sudden, I started to worry that my doc was going to give me news that I didn't want to hear.  However, after he had looked at my lab work and answered all of my questions, he told me that he plans to treat my case as a chronic condition (rather than a death sentence).  He told me that I would need to make an appointment in March for a PETscan, and we would go from there.  GREAT NEWS!

Through all of this, I have learned that the people who work in oncology are a special breed of human beings.  They are strong and competent and kind, and even though I know that their jobs are stressful, they always made it a point to treat me as a person, not just another case. Yesterday as I encountered each of the nurses who has cared for me, they gave me high fives and hugged me.   Even though I am glad to be finished with this chapter of my life, I will miss these kind and caring people.

As I was getting ready to leave, the nurse who had administered my final chemo handed me a note from the care team and a cake from all of them.   Although my nurse navigator was unable to be there yesterday, she made sure to leave me a note and gift to let me know that she was thinking of me.

While I am still slightly choked up from the events of this past week, these caring gestures are the best Christmas presents ever.

On that note, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Seasons Greetings, Happy 2018, and all good wishes to all of you who have followed my crazy journey.


  1. I have recently been dealing with the same type of situation with my beloved grandmom mobile. I was told that I could buy the car back from salvage for a low amount of money and use the remainder of the check I would get for repairs on that car and it would still be insurable. In other words they paid a certain amount toward repair which had which had exceeded the value of the car. But you can take the check that they will give you and apply it toward repair of your car. I think clarity has failed me in that sentence. Best thing to do is to call your insurance agent and ask if there’s anyway that you can buy the car back from salvage and have a Knouff money to repair it so that it’s decent looking. I hope some of that makes sense! I am so excited for you that your chemo is over. I know several people who are on lifelong chemotherapy and do very well with it. Thank God we now have treatments like that and that chemotherapy and cancer are no longer a death knell. Blessings on you Phyllis. It is such an honor to know you and your later years and to have known you in your earlier years.

  2. Thanks for information, Jeanne. Even though I loved that little car, it was time for it to find another home. I have been told that salvage folks sell parts, and/or repair-restorer folks buy the car and restore it and sell it. If that happens, it is okay with me.

    ...and I agree that is such an honor to know you again after all of these years. My best to you, Jeanne.

  3. I'm so glad you are finished with your treatments, and happy to know that you had such competent and caring people taking care of you. Best wishes for a wonderful holiday season!

  4. I am delighted for you to have finished chemo and that you have received such a positive prognosis.

    As to your Yellow Bird, may I suggest you test drive a Mini. Lots of spark , especially in a manual transmission, if that’s how you roll. I’ve had mine for 7 years now and it still makes me smile every time I see it.

    Christine Langhoff

  5. Hi, Phyllis -- I did not know you were battling cancer. Glad that you are done with the chemo and you now will be able to gain your strength and your balance, too. I am a 14 year survivor, to date -- thanks to IU Med and Drs. Miller and Goulet. They were my lifesavers. You have a good prognosis ahead -- treatments are changing so much due to the good research. I send you hellos and love and wishes for wellness. I know what you mean about cars. I have to decide whether to get new tires or sell my beloved 1989 Ford Festiva -- my 'Stiva! Will decide in the spring.

  6. I love reading your blog. I am so relieved that you are done with chemo. Congrats!!! I admire you very much - love your philosophies, wisdom and also your commitment to public education. I hope that I can meet you in person someday. I had to chuckle at your "school bus yellow" car. My husband and I bought a yellow Gremlin (remember those odd looking vehicles?) in 1972 and drove it until it fell apart. It was a stick shift (is that even an option anymore???). My daughter picked the same color for her first car in high school - a shiny yellow school bus yellow Neon. Although we did not name our cars, I have old pictures of my husband and me proudly standing next to our Gremlin and my daughter with her Neon. Will your next car be the same color?