The Past Two Months

The last few months haven't been uneventful, but life in Chronic Cancerland is never uneventful. What they have been is one giant vacation from chemo, thanks to travel plans, social conflicts, a lingering cough, and my own willingness to eagerly skip a treatment with the slightest excuse.

As expected, I have enjoyed feeling great week after week, and pretending that I'm totally normal. Man do the normal people take for granted feeling great all the time. Somebody needs to slap them every once in a while and remind them to appreciate it!

After 2+ years on Avastin, by kidneys finally decided to tank. Avastin is a cancer drug I've been getting along side my chemo. It doesn't make me feel bad, so aside from the blood clots I blow from my nose every morning, I don't know I'm on it. But mighty drugs are never that simple, as it can do things like raise your blood pressure and destroy your kidneys. I got off easy until recently, when I started "spilling protein" in my monthly urine sample. After voiding a few gallons of golden goodness for the lab, it was determined that my kidneys weren't clearing up on their own, and Avastin had to go. This happened around the same time that my left leg started swelling, and the lymphedema label was slapped across my rather smooshy thigh. There is a correlation, so just hold tight for a second.

Compression, Caribbean-style.
While sitting on the exam table before my last treatment, I held out my newly diagnosed and heavily wrapped Mummy Leg, and said something to my doctor about lymphedema. Of course I had it! I was certain! It made total sense! He looked at my leg, and with the wave of his hand, blew off my declaration and mumbled something about it just being my kidneys. Deep down my little tiny ego got excited, and I thought that maybe I could scoop my vanity up off the floor and hope that this would go away once my kidneys were back to normal. Maybe this wasn't full blown, fashion-altering lymphedema after all?

It's been over 2 months, and I have to say my oncologist might have been on to something. My kidneys kicked it back up a notch, and my lymphedema took it down a notch. My swelling is contained to just my ankle, and I'm finding if I balance it just right, I can go a day or 2 without having a compression garment on my leg during the day, and just wrap it up at night. Or wear my fancy tight during the day, and go bare-legged at night. Or wear all those compression socks I bought back when I was running, and walk around like I just finished my long run and am recovering.

Is it still considered lymphedema? Totally. The swelling is a direct result of my missing lymph nodes in my left pelvis. The "flair" that caused my entire leg to swell was probably due to my kidneys not flushing out waste at full capacity. Does my lymphatic system still need a little help and support on the left side? Absolutely. Can I go back to my normal life of enclosed shoes and skinny jeans? Totally. Am I thrilled? You betcha!

Post-script: My most recent PET scan once again revealed that my cancer continues to be in (and only in) my lungs. I am still responding to Irinotecan (this is my 3rd summer cycling through the Destroyer of Bowels), which is amazing to say the least. Here I am, 3+ years later and my tumors are still being measured in millimeters. Irinotecan is controlling the growth of the cancer. As much as I hate being sick, it's nice to know I'm not being sick in vain. 

As a miraculous bonus, I've managed to start growing hair again while on Irinotecan. This is the very drug that has caused me to lose hair 3 years running, so the fact that it's growing back is an unexplainable perk. I can assure you all bottles of Rogaine are on full alert and maximum use.