Saturday, January 2, 2010

From the Diary of a Brain Tumor Chick

Friday, January 1st 2010-

I can't believe I just typed 2010. It seems like just yesterday it was October. I can almost close my eyes and the last few months feel like a distant memory. Something that didn't really happen or happened in another life. It only takes a rub on my noggin' to realize there's no denying it. The large scar gives it away immediately. No denying that :)

Recovery has been tough. As I've said before, I'm not great at being patient. Just about the time I thought things were looking up (a little before Christmas) I slid back down the slope. My brain decided it was a good time to become inflamed and cause havoc. Multiple doctors visits and yet another round of antibiotics and steroids was enough to kill what little morale I had mustered up. But I am happy to report that it also soon passed and I once again began climbing that mountain of recovery.

I just had my one month check up in Jacksonville with my Neurosurgeon. I was nervous. I was finally going to get the final pathology report. I was going to find out whether this brain tumor, Egore, that invaded me also brought me cancer.

I had a list of questions to ask the doctor...mundane things like "When can I go back to the gym", "Which medications do I need to continue to take". No where on the list was 'Pathology report'. I completely forgot. It had consumed my thoughts so completely since I left the hospital and began recovery, I can't imagine how I didn't list it.

I diligently went down my list with Dr. Hanal. He looked at my incision. Pulled some stitches out that had not dissolved. Thanked him, even took a picture with him (for my record) and he began to walk out the door. My younger sister nudged me and mouthed the word "RESULTS?", like hello lady, and I quickly snapped back to reality. How could I forget that? It was what I most wanted to hear. I quickly asked and my wish, my prayers, and the prayers of so many others were answered. Dr. Hanal very casually turned and said, "Oh, completely benign". As casual as saying "I'll have cheese on that" or "No pickles please", he was confident and calm. He said it with surety that gave me such relief.

I was very aware of the fact that I was nervous and anxious about the results (obviously) but I had no idea how very much was weighing on that moment. I cannot express the amount of vast relief I immediately felt with just hearing those words. It's almost as if there was a shadow, a cloudy shadow following me around up until the point that those words were spoken. I wondered if for someone who gives news like this everyday, if Dr. Hanal could have any idea the power of what he was telling me. Everything, and I mean everything hinged on those results. In that very instant I can honestly say, I was a new woman. I felt like I had a whole new life.

After a few technicalities we left the Mayo Clinic. I reached the doors and the second I stepped out to the outdoors I screamed. Or maybe it was a yell. All I know is that it had to come out and it did. I think I may have scared the little valet man :) but I didn't care, it felt so good. I had confirmation, confirmation that I had a future! What a wonderful feeling that was and still is. It has yet to leave me. I hope it never does. I want to hang on to it for the rest of my very long life that I intend on having.

My news could not have come at a better time. Two days before a new year. I was only too glad to say goodbye to 2009 and hello to 2010. 2010, and every year after feels like a gift. It all could have been very different. It seems symbolic and right. It's not a gift that I have any intention to ever waste. Nor is it a gift that I will ever be able to accurately express to anyone who has not gone through something similar. I can't tell you how much I wish I could because it is so powerful.

I have to return to the Mayo Clinic (or the Mayo Spa as I've decided to call it...a clinic is somewhere you go when you are sick...and I am no longer sick :) every three months for an MRI for the next 2yrs. If there is no re-growth I will then move to every 6mos for 3yrs. If there is still no re-growth I will then move to once a year for the rest of my life. Daunting, to think that this will never 'really' go away. We will always be looking for Egore. The tumor is gone (I saw the pictures, they were beautiful) but tumor cells could remain. I already have to stop myself from thinking about the next MRI. Wondering if there will be growth. Wondering if I will ever have to endure another major brain surgery. It could easily consume me. I work each and everyday to not allow it to. It will take work, and getting used to but I am determined to hang onto the shear happiness I have now.

Things are progressing. I get more and more stamina everyday. Having my news I think makes me able to be a little more patient :) I actually played a little basketball with the boys today. I caught myself running after the ball, and it felt great. I didn't even find myself too winded and out of breath, which if you've seen me since the surgery you know that's an accomplishment itself :) I lost, but even that didn't matter. It was so fun.

Besides basketball we watched movies and football, wrestled and horseplayed, and I made dinner (black eyed peas, rice, turnips and cornbread) the traditional southern New Years dinner. It was an AWESOME day! An AMAZING day! One of the BEST days ever!

So here's to 2010! A year full of awesome, amazing, and best days! And most of all tumorless, Egore-less days!


toripiercy said...

Frannie that is all just so amazing! Here's to a wonderful, tumor free 2010 with so much to look forward to!

黑色 said...
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bp said...

congrats on the good news. i just celebrated the 5 yr anniversary of my diagnosis. (i have annual MRIs to make sure the brain tumor bit in my head that they could not resect has not changed.) As the years go by you will learn to turn the recurrence fears off. or at least mute them a bit. it is good to be alive. cheers.

steelers2727 said...

I am so happy for you and your family. I truely hope that 2010 brings the happiest of times for you.