The C Word – Part 23: An Update

Hey folks, I haven’t blogged in awhile, but that doesn’t mean I’m not still out here fighting the good fight! I’m just more focused on working on adapting everything I’ve been through this past year into my Vancouver Fringe Festival show, also entitled “The C-Word”. It’s going well. Five parody songs, one straight song, storytelling and a bit of burlesque along with some fun costume and prop surprises. I’m proud of the work so far and am still honing it down to the one-hour time limit for Fringe. Venues and schedule have not been released yet, but I’ll make damn sure to let you all know when they are!

Some of my C-Word Promo

If you’re one of my Facebook friends, you may know that two months ago, after being sooooo careful for the prior two years, even in and out of hospitals AND with compromised immunity, I finally ended up getting Covid. The run of the disease wasn’t too bad, but I was left with a lingering cough and fatigue. I started worrying that I’d NEVER regain my energy and strength.

And the night of May 15th – the day of my last blog which was on my one year anniversary of my diagnosis – I woke up in the middle of the night in a coughing fit: coughing up a little bit of blood. I was a bit freaked out, so we went to the ER at 4 in the morning.

After an x ray, bloodwork and a CT scan, it was determined that I did not have pneumonia, but we discovered that I was EXTREMELY anemic. I had very low iron, hemoglobin and blood pressure. I was given a blood infusion and told to take iron supplements. Then the ER doctor proceeded to tell me that my CT scan showed some nodules in my right lung along with an associated bank of inflamed lymph nodes. He told me it looked like the cancer had spread to my lungs.

NO. This could NOT be happening. I’d done EVERYTHING right. I’ve fought this so hard. My doctors are all “extremely pleased” with my progress. So, how can this be true??

I was utterly devastated. I felt like everything I had worked for was disappearing before my eyes. I was afraid I’d have to go right back into chemo and, depending on the schedule, have to cancel a lot of my summer gigs. And my Fringe Fest show.

I called my oncologist’s office and let them know what was happening. They sent a requisition for more bloodwork on Thursday and a phone appointment on Friday. I contacted my clinical counselor and she got me an appointment on Thursday. I booked an appointment with my naturopath and asked them to requisition all my updated medical files.

So, all week long I lived with the fear that I – or rather my body – had failed. I resumed my morning meditations and journaling which I’d let go lax recently. I took early morning walks by the river to clear my mind. I bought all my summer annuals and planted them all in my flower boxes on the balcony. If I was going to be sick in bed all summer, I’d be damned if I didn’t have my flowers to look at out the bedroom window.

I took cough medicine for a few days and my cough cleared up. I also did some research on some of the effects of Covid. Guess what? It can cause nodules in the lungs which dissipate on their own in about 3 months. It causes that exact set of lymph nodes to inflame. It even causes cancer marker blood tests to spike in the 56 days following the onset of the disease. LOTS of copycat symptoms. I had all that info ready for my phone appointment.

Friday finally came and I spoke with my oncologist. To my relief, he was on exactly the same page as I was. He said the nodules were TINY, not the raging mass of evil the ER Doctor made it sound like. And yes, all these symptoms were most likely Covid-related, and as I suspected, my anemia was from my blood loss during surgery and my body growing a new liver. Of course, we’d keep an eye on things, but he told me not to be concerned. He wasn’t. WHEW! My naturopath helped connect more of the dots and got me on a super daily high-potency, easily absorbed iron supplement called Fera-Pro (150 mg a day). Within a day, I was feeling almost back to my old self again. But unfortunately, that chilling ER experience brought all my old fears back to life.

Now, due to the iron and the fact my body is now replenishing the lost blood, I’m feeling physically strong. I was able to return to morning yoga, more swimming and riding my bike to get groceries. I’m finally putting on weight in the form of muscle mass. But there are still shadows looming.

On June 28, I have my one-year follow-up colonoscopy. And on July 4, I have my follow-up, full-body CT scan. I am praying that they both go well and that I’m given a clean bill of health. Then – and only then – will I feel as if I can celebrate. But UNTIL then, I’m working hard to keep the dark thoughts at bay. To keep focused on my health and all that I’ve accomplished this past year. If everything looks good, they should even be able to remove my chemo port! So once again I’m in need of good vibes. Positive thoughts. Love energy. This story is still unfolding and I can’t finish writing my Fringe Show until this next landmark is reached.

But I feel healthy. I feel good. My scar is bumpy and lumpy and hopefully still healing, but otherwise I have the energy and focus to tackle life again, and for that I am grateful. My flowers are blooming abundantly on my patio and the salmonberries are ripening along the riverbanks. I have several gigs to look forward to with my husband before my CT scan, and I’m thankful for my voice and body and the ability to do my favorite work of entertaining others.

Stay tuned for the next update – I dearly hope to be able to begin calling myself a SURVIVOR rather than a WARRIOR, but either way, I won’t stop fighting.

So, in the words of Pat Benatar; “Put up your dukes, let’s get down to it.”

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