Friday, December 19, 2008

Two years ago today the first outward symptom of my cancer to make me sit up and take notice appeared. It was a small swollen lymph node on my neck just behind my right ear. Why this one little "thing" was what made me call the doctor, I'll never know. For weeks leading up to this event I was suffering from severe fatigue, migraines, a swollen stomach, poor appetite, and diarrhea. I managed to explain all of these things away with excuses like working forty plus hours a week in addition to carrying a full time load at school. I had projects galore to finish and was in the midst of finals. I worked in the retail world and we were ensconced in the holidays. It meant for a lot of pressure. Add to all of this that Chris and I were caring for a pet with terminal cancer who we were not ready to let go.

Wednesday, when I got my CBC results I was speechless. What Chris didn't mention in the last post is that my doctor put forward the possibility that I was relapsing. She was very somber and said that she was sorry. Me too.

I'm having a hard time believing that I managed to survive two very difficult transplants only to have my original cancer come back. Let me be very clear that as of this moment we don't know for a fact that the ALL is back, but as my doctor said, my subtype is very aggressive and comes back very quickly. We may know today, or we may not.

I've been feeling very angry over the last two days. I have absolutely no control over this situation and having to stand by and watch people that I love suffer through this with me is tearing my heart out. To add insult to injury, I feel really well. I'm not manifesting any outward symptoms of illness. My appetite is good and my energy levels are normal. Inside, I know something's brewing in my chemistry. My white blood cell count is rocketing, as is my absolute neutrophil count. Then there's the mystery of the blasts circulating in my blood. I want off of this ride, but that's not possible.

I took a moment the other day to think about all of the treatment that I've had in the last two years and realized that there have only been four months that I haven't had active chemo. That's a lot of chemicals saturating my organs, which makes me wonder if I'm a candidate for any more. If I have relapsed, I don't know what my options are. I'm only 105 days out from my last transplant which leads me to believe that there isn't a lot left open to me. There is only so much the body can take before it starts to shut down and to be frank, if my cancer is back after only 100 days who's to say it won't come back again more vicious a week after the next treatment.

I have labs at 11:30am today and then a follow up with Dr. Kebriaei at 1:30pm. I know anything can happen and that it's only been two days since my last labs. My numbers will either be close to what they were on Wednesday, or significantly higher. If the past is any indicator and I am relapsing, then the blasts will have increased ten fold. I have a microscopic granule of hope that I'm just being dramatic and this is all really nothing, but I'm faced with the reality that there's a reason that I don't know a lot of ALL, t(4;11) survivors who were diagnosed as adults. Truth be known, I'm the only one that I'm aware of right now.


Rene said...

Praying for this all to be nothing other than funky counts that can't be explained. Hang in there!


PJ said...

I completely understand your anger, Ann. I've felt it in relation to my illness, and I'm feeling it right now. I can't tell you how much I admire your honesty and grace. Hoping for the best and thinking of you, my friend.

Kim said...

Many, many prayers for you - I pray it is all back right today for you.

Susan C said...

Ann, My heart and stomach are ill at just the possibility, the thought that the ALL could be back. Thanks so much for your honesty and clarity. Keeping those good thoughts that the funky counts are explainable in a way that has nothing to do with ALL.

Anonymous said...

Ann-Praying for your peace-you and Chris are so precious and are so loved by people that are touched and insprired by your lives and your incredible devotion to each other throughout the journey-Sending big virtual hugs on a very snowy wintery day-


Anonymous said...

I don't know what to say...sending lots of love to you and Chris. Thank you for posting this difficult news and thank you for your honesty. Please know there are many who have never met you that are pulling for you.

Ronni Gordon said...

By now you will probably have met with your doctor. Like everyone else who admires and supports you and pulls for you, I too hope with all my heart that you are not relapsing. Sending good thoughts your way.

Anonymous said...

I pray for you every day, Ann. I think about you all the time. Sending a lot of love and hugs your way.

I feel at a loss for words. I hope for a miracle for you.

-Jeannette Hill

Anonymous said...

Hi Ann & Chris:
Waiting along with you with positive thoughts and lots of hope. I can't even imagine what you're both feeling -- I don't want to allow any thoughts besides the ones that see you with big sighs of relief on your faces. I'm right here with you!
Love, Wendy

Kara said...

Praying for you and eagerly awaiting a new update. I hope everything is ok, and it was just a fluke

Anonymous said...

Ann, you wouldn't remember me by name, but I know you would remember my face; I was one of your customers at Harold's. You always asked about my daughters and had such a genuine sweetness about you. I can't help but tell you and Chris that I have been so deeply moved by the grace, humor, honesty, intelligence and deep love you both have displayed. I have been moved to tears as I've followed your trials. I am such an admirer of you both!! I hope and pray for your recovery.It is so clear to me that the two of you SO do not deserve this(not that anyone does, but your plain goodness is just so evident). Please just know that you both are loved, and surrounded by people who admire and pray for you (even from afar).