The Final Frontier

Yeah, I’m not sure myself what that title means. But here’s a quick update:

I had a PET scan on April 1st, and the results showed some activity in the chest (mediastinal mass measuring 3.2×3.9 cm, down from 5 cm in December) and some “dying off” activity in one spot near my left clavicle. The super-specialist doc in the big city wanted to biopsy the big mass, to check for a) other cancers (unlikely), b) a benign mass (only slightly less unlikely), or c) the presence of Hodgkin’s in the mass. 

We went over on Monday night, 4/8, and spent the night (consolation prize: fantastic tapas restaurant for dinner) before reporting the following morning for “the procedure”. It was a needle biopsy so not as invasive and not as difficult a recovery as others I’ve had, but the fun surprise for this one was that I was AWAKE! Remember last spring, when I thought I’d be awake for the original biopsy, but I wasn’t? Switcheroo! In all honesty, it wasn’t any worse than getting an epidural…but then I also wasn’t somewhere between “pressure” (EXTREME “pressure”) and “Baby! Cute baby! Snuggly baby!” so the motivation just wasn’t there. However. It’s not my favorite memory, but in the immediate aftermath my biggest complaint was that I didn’t get to eat until 1:30 in the afternoon that day. 

The results of the biopsy came back as scar tissue. Which, per my local oncologist who actually answered my many questions (specialists giving results over the phone = not great at clarifying), in light of the PET results, probably means that there is active lymphoma but in a relatively small area that the biopsy didn’t reach, and most of the original mass has collapsed and left scar tissue. This is good news. Given the PET results, I was a shoo-in for radiation with no doubts, but given the biopsy results we now know that the radiation will almost certainly do the trick, no nastier treatments required. I will go back to the radiation oncologist sometime this coming week for recalibration of my field of treatment (adjusting the beam to include what showed up on the PET) and will start radiation, if not this week then the week after. At this point I am not sure how long that will last–the original number was four weeks, but I don’t know if the most recent PET will have changed that–but I will be done before the end of May. Remember when I though I was going to start chemo before the end of May? Yeah, it’s been a bit of a year.

And it’s not over yet. I hit another big cancer milestone today: I shaved my head. As you will see in the pictures, my hair had gotten pretty (pathetically) thin. As of March 1, my last day of chemo, it was thin but (I thought) passable. Since then it has kept falling out (that should stop and regrowth start sometime in the next month or so) and it just got to a point where it will be easier to deal with it, practically and emotionally, if it is just gone. So, here are a few pics to show you my new look.


Before: The view from the front.



From the back







Joseph got in on the action (with an assist from Luke and then Daddy for the close).




Not really something I saw myself doing, ever, before last spring. Things change.



The (former) contents of my scalp.



And that’s all she wrote.

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8 Responses to The Final Frontier

  1. Sleen says:

    THERE you are 🙂 so good to see you! Keep smiling! You are beautiful, hairy or not.

  2. Barbara Curtis says:

    Good Morning Sunshine. What a journey! There are no words to say, except we love you.

    At this point 1 month of radiation and that should be it for now. No surgery, no more chemo, no more radiation after May. I pray that your body heals and the Hodgkin’s goes away, away and that new beginning happen .. Love to you always. Uncle Dave & Aunt Barbara

  3. Kathleen says:

    Wow Emily!! What a difference! All I see is blue eyes and a big smile. It looks way better. I don’t mean to sound mean, but it does!! I’m sure there was a lot of emotion during that process, but you’re so strong! You go girl! I’m proud to call you my friend.

  4. katie says:

    The difference in your smile before and after says it all to me! You are beautiful Emily- that cannot be hidden – hair or no hair!!!

  5. C. Jayne Trent says:

    still a madonna, sweetie – looking good! love, cj

  6. sunshyn24 says:

    Glad you are doing well!

  7. sunshyn24 says:

    Glad you are doing well!!

  8. Wow, that is amazing news, and something to hold onto as you are entering the next phase… my sister had Hodgkins in 2007 and her hair fell out very similar to you. Thank you for sharing your story.

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