Health Update

While we were getting ready for Lily’s graduation, a lot of my hospital stuff come due. I had my four month CT scans of my chest, abdomen, and pelvis a couple of days before graduation. For the first time EVER…they couldn’t get an IV started on me. I was poked 3 times, which is really rare for me. I think I had the beginner crew that day. I had not been feeling well and I wasn’t sure if it was grief, stress, or possibly the cancer starting to grow that was causing this icky feeling. I had a zoom call the next day with my local oncologist (Dr. I-can’t-wait-until-you-are-in-my-rearview-mirror). He was prattling on about all sorts of things and I finally interrupted him and asked him about my results. He had forgotten why we were having this zoom call, evidently. He said all was stable. Good news. I wanted to hear what my sarcoma specialist at the Mayo clinic had to say though. So we went through the graduation weekend. A few days after graduation, I had my big treatment. I had bloodwork done, a lupron shot (which I get every month) and then a zometa infusion via IV. The whole process takes a couple of hours even though on paper it looks like it would only take about an hour tops. You have to wait for labs…wait for the oncology pharmacist to mix your drugs…the zometa has to be infused over 35 minutes….you get the picture. The oncologist’s receptionist gave me a big hug. (I had been around longer than she had!) While I was in the infusion center, another worker from the clinic who handles scheduling and insurance for me…someone I really like, came up and found me to give me a hug goodbye. I have had two fabulous nurses who have cared for me the majority of my visits to the infusion center at Bergan Mercy. They have laughed with me, commiserated COVID restrictions with me, talked about raising kids with me….cried with me when Joe died, and rejoiced with me when I found a place in Montana to move to and live. Becky and Nora….they are the best. I would like to think that I am special, but they treat all their patients with that kind of love and attention and for that, I am forever grateful. I remember when I was starting a new chemo drug and it was during COVID and Rich could not be there with me. I had no idea what was going to happen as they pumped that poison into my port…which went right to my heart to pump it out systemically quickly. If I had an allergic reaction, it would get real bad, real quick. As a former nurse, I knew that. I was scared to death about it and they understood that. I have not made it a real secret that I was not fond of my local oncologist, who has the bedside manner of a hemorrhoid. However, what kept me leaving from leaving this hospital system was these 4 women…especially Becky and Nora. Anyhow, there were tears, numbers were exchanged…and I am sure the other patients were trying to figure out what in the world was going on with me. Typically you are ringing the bell because you are done and beat your cancer or you are going to hospice. I wasn’t doing either. I put a photo of me during my last treatment at Bergan Mercy. Many of you know I always take the same photo during each treatment….whether they are weekly or monthly, or every 3 months. I used to tell you all about the fact that the cancer infusion center overlooks the two largest civilian cemeteries in Omaha. Kind of depressing. They recently replaced alternating windows with stained glass windows. It is a big improvement!

After I got home from my morning soiree with the oncology infusion center, Rich and I got on the road to drive 5.5 hours to Rochester, MN to the Mayo Clinic. This was a nice time to reconnect with Rich and talk about the move and logistics of our calendars up until we leave June 13th. I think we got a lot accomplished on the drive there and back. We arrived in Rochester around 6 p.m. and met my best friend, Judi and her husband for dinner. Judi is a friend going back to when the boys were very little and we lived in East Grand Forks, MN. We had 5 kids between us at that time all under the age of 5 and our husbands were gone a lot for work. We became fast friends and she is Lily’s Godmother, and I am her youngest daughter’s Godmother as well. While Lily was graduating from high school, my Goddaughter was graduating with her master’s degree. So we are both very proud mommas! The years just melt away when I talk with Judi. It is such a wonderful gift, her friendship.

The next morning first thing, we had an appointment with my sarcoma specialist. I just love that man. He couldn’t be any more different than my local oncologist and they were classmates! Anyhow, he greeted me with a huge smile and said, “I don’t have to play where’s Cyndi today! (like Where’s Waldo?) I know exactly where she is! She is here with me in Minnesota!” I have not seen him in person since March 2020, when I first started under his care. COVID had just shut down all of Rochester two days prior back then. We met via zoom every three months for the last 3+ years. I have been in hotel rooms while traveling, at my mom’s house….all over. He gets a kick out of trying to figure out where I am when we meet. He went over my last three sets of scans and likes what he sees. I had a couple of questions and he answered them just fine. He was very happy with how everything is going for me on the current treatment. Long story short, we are going to keep doing what we are doing. He has agreed to continue to oversee my care when I move to Montana. Now I just need to manage all of that and fine an oncologist. That is next week’s problem. For now, I am happy that I am still doing relatively well despite my advanced cancer. He even said I could drop to having scans every 4-6 months now rather than every 4. That is a big deal. I, along with most people with this kind of cancer, live scan to scan. Giving me a whole half a year to plan? What a gift!

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