It’s been nearly 30 days since my last post. I’m constantly amazed at how time seems to pass in the blink of an eye. There’s much to report, so let’s get this party started, shall we?
Most importantly, we met with my oncologist today and are now officially in “wait & see,” or as I’m going to call it “go forth and conquer” mode. My CA-125 levels continue to stay in the normal range. This is a blood test I will get monthly, in addition to another cancer marker, called HE-4. There’s a small chance that the CA-125 won’t be an accurate predictor of cancer volume, however so far, it has been. That’s where the HE-4 blood test comes in. It’s just another marker for ovarian cancer that we will monitor closely. I anticipate getting a CT scan in September (3 months since my last scans in June), where we’ll track any growth (or not) of the cancer in my pelvic area (currently contained within a lymph node). Prophylactic surgery on the breasts is currently on hold, but I’m still working with a breast specialist to monitor that area of my body.
I will likely live with ovarian cancer the rest of my life and it will be treated as a chronic illness. This reality forces a shift in… well… everything.
That’s where the energy of the past 30 days has been focused. It has meant, in my words to Kenji: “no more fucking around.” My diet has to be on point. My exercise has to be consistent. And my mental health has to be under control. These are the things that I have control over that affect cancer’s growth. It’s my intention to do everything in my power to keep that growth at bay, and to learn to let go of those things that I can’t control.
Frankly, it’s hard work.
The past 30 days have had three main goals: eat well (gain weight!), reduce stress, and exercise. I’m proud to say I’ve put the work into each of these areas and am already seeing gains.
The reduction of stress has been one of the more difficult areas of growth. I continue to see a therapist, and I’ve added a meditation practice to my day. I’m using an app called Headspace to help guide me, as well as track my progress. It’s been hugely beneficial and it doesn’t hurt that the voice guidance is an Australian dude. (Sexy voice = more willing to listen. Ha ha ha. Hey, whatever works, right?)
Fitness has come easier than expected. Sure, there are days where I have to drag ass to make it happen, but I ALWAYS feel better afterwards. I started with 10-minute intervals on the elliptical and have increased to 25 minutes. I also began a courtship with the bicycle two weeks ago, first riding 7 miles, and last weekend 12. I can do laundry without needing to sit down for extended periods of time. I can cook a meal. These things I took for granted now mean the world to me.
After my stint in the hospital, my weight was a startling low 117 pounds (a number I can’t recall seeing since well before high school). My diet has been focused on whole foods, reduction of processed sugar, and just plain eating enough each day to sustain my body and fuel my muscles as I increase activity. Because we were already implementing these dietary changes into our lifestyle prior to my recurrence, this has been an easier shift to continue. Honestly, the hardest part when first coming home was simply eating enough. Thankfully, we’ve passed that hurdle.
I have another 30+ days before I return to work full-time, and my intention is to cement the aforementioned habits and refine them (particularly where diet is concerned). Being able to focus solely on myself has been weird, but wonderful. Mostly because I’ve never done so before in my lifetime. It’s a great reminder that when we take time to care for ourselves, we are then able to bring the best version of ourselves to the rest of the world.
I’m treating myself with grace and kindness and finding it to be exactly what I need. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.