Wednesday, April 16, 2014

My Last Chemo Treatment!!!!!

Tomorrow morning at 8 a.m. in the Infusion Center at The Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City, Utah I, Alexis Marie Isbell, will be receiving my last chemotherapy treatment for stage 2b Hodgkin's Lymphoma!! Hopefully ever, but lets not jinx it, I'm still young and my chances of having cancer again in my lifetime are unfortunately a lot higher than most of you, purely because I've had it already. I have never been more excited to get poisoned!

After tomorrow the doctors will wait about 10 days for my last chemo treatment to run its course through my system, to start doing tests. Then they'll do another PET scan to see how much of the cancer is gone and how much of it, if any, remains. Once they get the results of that, I'll meet with my radiation oncologist again to find exactly how many sessions of radiation I'll need. Then I'll make another appointment to get fitted for my radiation mask and tattoos! Say what?! The mask is like a mesh thing that wraps around your face and is extremely tight. A friend of mine who went through the exact same thing as me, says that it's so tight that if I go into it with my eyes open I can close them, but if I go into it with my eyes closed, I can't open them! Crazy huh. The tattoos aren't as cool as they sound, they are just little freckle sized dots surrounding the area they will treat, so that they know they are treating the exact same area every single time. After I get fitted for my mask I'll have to wait another week or so to start treatment. Then I'll undergo about three weeks of radiation therapy, which unlike chemo, I have to go in every day for. It should only take up about 30 minutes of my day, and the actual radiation part only lasts about two minutes. The main side effects are fatigue (what's new?), sensitive skin in the treatment area (like a sunburn), and a sore throat. Overall, WAY better than chemo!!

It feels like that last four months of my life have dragged on, but I am so excited to finally see a light at the end of the tunnel!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Seven Down, One To Go!

It's crazy to me to see how people react in the face of death and disease. When I was diagnosed with cancer a little over three months ago, there were a few people in my life that I knew would be there for me throughout this journey. At least I thought so. They always say that hard times bring out the best and the worst in people but I've never experienced that more than I have right now. Some of my absolute closest friends turned out to be the most distant throughout my recovery and vice versa. The amount of people that have stepped up and really showed their support is overwhelming and I am so thankful for all of you. I try to focus on the good rather than the bad especially in situations like this where that seems to be all that I see most days. Cancer isn't pretty and there aren't many perks to it so when I find one I've got to take it for all that it's worth. 

Yesterday I started my last round of chemo!!! I have one more treatment left and then it's on to radiation. I met with a radiation oncologist earlier this week to learn a little bit more about the process and I'm not going to lie, he said a lot of scary things. In case you didn't know, my lymph nodes that have been infected by the cancer start in my neck, my collar bone area, and continue down around my heart and my left lung. When they start the radiation they want to make sure they treat all of the infected areas which means the radiation will target part of my thyroid, my lung, my heart, and some breast tissue. Because the radiation can be so damaging there are a lot of potential risks with this area the main ones being breast cancer, hypothyroidism, lung diseases, and pericarditis. My initial thought after hearing all of that was nooo way! I'll take my chances with my lymphoma reoccurring. Well turns out, if I don't do the radiation my chances of the lymphoma coming back are almost a sure bet and it's much harder to treat the second time around and I'd be looking at multiple bone marrow transplants. If I go on and do the radiation, because of my age and the fact that my cancer is only in stage two, the chances of all those other complications happening are very low. I've decided to do the radiation this time around and pray to the universe that no cancer or any other disease will come from it! It's safe to say that I am officially sick of being sick and am counting down the days until this nightmare is over and I can have my health and most importantly my hair back! Or is it the other way around..?