Sometimes I step back and realize it’s a miracle I only post personal health updates a few times each year, if that. I don't take this lightly. Seventeen years ago, after my colon cancer diagnosis, my parents were frequently emailing a list of friends and family with the latest surgery updates, chemotherapy stories and reports from radiation.
Over the years, as we've found a "new normal” I'm thankful new technologies like blogs emerged! There’s so many people who’ve prayed for me and supported our family over the years, I wanted to share a quick health update with you.
Current Appointment Schedule
The good news is I’m still cancer free. (Yay!)
I’ve been cancer free for 9 years… I had a second colon cancer in June 2009 but since it was stage I, surgery removed it and I didn’t need further treatment. As of last January, I’ve been a survivor for 17 years.
I’m treated as a high-risk patient, but I’m experiencing a healthy balance of care that swings from hands-on prevention to a large distance between myself and the oncology office. I only visit doctors a few times each year now (which is amazing compared to my former daily, weekly and six month visits)!
Because I carry the mutation for Lynch syndrome, my follow-up plan is clear cut (yay for national guidelines sharing how to treat high-risk patients!)
- I see an oncologist once/year who runs blood and urine tests (I am part of the KU Survivorship Transition Clinic)
- I see a nurse practitioner at the OBGYN-oncologist office once/year at Sarah Cannon in Kansas City (I still hop around to stay with my team of doctors)
- I get a yearly colonoscopy each October and every 3 years, we do an upper scope (Dr. Taormina has done every scope for me which makes my comfort level much higher!)
- I visit a skin doctor and dentist routinely (although to be honest, I slack at making these appointments.)
In 2012, I had a total hysterectomy to remove my risk of OB-related cancers (thanks to Lynch syndrome). I currently wear an estrogen patch continually. Menopause has been fairly manageable for me; however, I'm recognizing a few changes now that I'm getting older. I'm gaining weight easier. I quickly get hot flashes if I don't routinely change my patch. I'm achier - especially when it's getting cold. So far, it's all very manageable.
I'm getting my first bone density scan in a few weeks. I'm on Day 4 of a 17-Day Diet my doctor recommended to help my body shed the extra pounds it's picked up and learn better food choices to help prevent future weight gain.
I've mentioned in earlier posts that I've battled proctitis for awhile now too. Many years after radiation treatment, this side effect appeared and hasn't gone away. It will swing from barely noticeable to horrible, but it's why I rarely run or jog anymore.
Education about LARS (a common syndrome for patients who've had colorectal surgery) helped me meet other patients struggling with this irritating issue and gave me tips to manage it.
It's amazing how much moral support can help!
Overall - I am in good spirits and great health!
Many years ago, I started seeing a counselor as part of my healing and I continue to be a BIG advocate for mental health support as a cancer survivor (or really - if you face any life struggle).
My blog continues to help me process, I've found a lot of healing in sharing my experience with others.
The outpouring of kind comments and positive feedback from my devotional in the Upper Room and blog for Mayo Clinic/Inspire (two posts I wrote based on cancer survival) blessed and encouraged my heart.
They keep me going since I'm currently working on my book!
Anytime I meet another cancer survivor and we find a special connection because our stories resonate and empower one another, I heal. So... to all who’ve lifted me up over the years, THANK YOU! And please continue to pray I experience minimal side effects from my past treatments and stay cancer-free!