As I mentioned, I am now back to my full time life. I have a busy five year old boy to keep up with and a new marriage on top of my full time job. I am a special education teacher in the area of math in grades 4th-8th grade at an inner city school in Indianapolis. I also coach our school VEX IQ robotics team. All of these things I kept up with as much as possible during treatment but since treatment ended I have thrown myself full force into them. I coordinated our robotics program during treatment and was lucky enough to attend several practices and all the competitions. Of the three teams at our school two of the teams qualified for the World VEX IQ Championships which are quickly approaching. So, as you can see, it has been busy.
Today was my follow up with the radiation oncologist, exam, and pap smear. This is the first pap smear I have had in over a year because once we found the cancer reoccurrence we jumped right into treatment. I am interested to see the results of the pap smear.
The radiation oncologist took the time to show me my PET scans. These scans compared a few key points in treatment. The first scan we looked at was the CT scan from April 2014, this is the scan which was used to identify the cancer had returned. The second scan was a PET scan from September. This scan determined that there were still multiple lymph nodes active with cancer as well as a mass on the right side of my pelvis. The final scan was the post-treatment scan. This scan looked fabulous and the doctor said I should go out and celebrate tonight!
I asked what we would do as a follow up. I had major concerns because when I was diagnosed with stage 1b2 cervical cancer in October 2012 we treated in November via the trachelectomy and I had several follow up appointments. When I transferred to a new doctor due to insurance change in October 2013 he did an exam and that was all, no scans. Then my story began again around Christmas when I found blood in my urine with the ultimate diagnosis of a reoccurrence. Something I learned along the way is that they don't re-stage you once you have cancer, however, according to the staging guidelines this reoccurrence would have been stage 3b. My doctor simply said "how did it get this bad when I just saw you in October?" Well, I didn't want to get to that point again. So my first question of the gynecological oncologist was what do we do now to maintain the remission status. I was concerned at the lack of scans previously from that office. This doctor assured me we could do PET scans again in three months. The radiation oncologist reiterated what I heard that we would closely follow the scans because my cancer was aggressive and didn't really act like it should have before. We don't want to get in that situation again!
It was the suggestion of both specialist that "less is more" and as long as the stent continues to work for me that we should continue that course of treatment for the missing portion of the ureter. The concern is that if they were to attempt a repair we could end up in a much worse state than I am currently in. The existing plan is to continue with the stent exchanges every 3-4 months indefinitely as long as it continues to be functional for me. This is a fairly minor procedure, although I have to be put under for it, the procedure is short and I just rest for the day. A minor inconvenience to have a working kidney. There is still hydronephrosis of the right kidney which is something I need to discuss with the urologist.
I am continuing to work on my health and have even began Weight Watchers again. When I ended treatment I gained about 20 pounds in three weeks. I am doing Weight Watchers again just as a management system mostly. I needed to lose about 8 pounds to get back to my weight from before cancer so I could fit into my clothes! I am a huge weight watchers advocate. I did it before and lost 100 pounds! I plan to continue to advocate that you get your check ups and pap smears. I will always be here if you have any questions and will probably post as things progress.
I am happy beyond words that we have a plan to monitor me and I am cancer free again!