Friday, September 9, 2011

Good News.

I am very relieved to report that my visit with oncologist went well and that the CT scan did NOT pick up any reappearance of cancer.

Prior to my late afternoon appointment my anxiety grew and in the last few minutes I felt like I was waiting for the jury to come in on my possible death penalty case. Whatever happened, I knew that in a few minutes my life was going to change one way or the other, and it isn't often that kind of dramatic moment occurs.

When my oncologist opened with, "
You look as good as your lab tests and your scan", I breathed a BIG sigh of relief. [Funny that I immediately assumed she meant that positively, eh?].

While I still have to deal with an issue with high cholesterol, I have set a new goal of getting to my "fighting" weight of 175 by my birthday 4 months from now, which should help with the cholesterol. A
fter seeing my primary care doc yesterday. I am also starting on a low dose Statin and Aspirin routine.

With a new one year lease on life until my next scheduled scan a year from now, setting modest health goals seems like the least I can do.

It now seems at least possible that my minor "C" health problem will loom as large as the BIG "C" has been for me. If you had told me that 4 years ago after my diagnosis with Stage III Lymphoma, I would have told you that you were crazy. 

Thanks again to all of the positive wishes and vibes.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Pre Scan Anxiety.

Peeps...I realize it has been a while since I posted and I hope this finds you all in good health and enjoying our short summer.  

I made a conscious decision not to get CT scans more than once a year as I thought the additional radiation exposure was not warranted unless I was experiencing physical symptoms. 

Well, a year has rolled around since my last scan and reading through last years scan report reminded me of the locations of past cancer activity, and leading me to wonder if some of my occasional aches and pains in those locations might signal the return of my cancer. 

I suspect this is just normal pre scan paranoia, but I can't help but be reminded of the not so comforting cliche that:
Just because your paranoid doesn't mean your not right.
My next CT scan comes up in a couple of weeks and I have an appointment with my oncologist on September 6th, so I have 3+ weeks of dread ahead of me and then we shall see what happens. [Pic is of one of two packages of powder you mix to drink with what seems like gallons of water the day or the CT scan].

I will of course provide future updates after the 6th, good or bad, but for now am counting my blessings that I so far have survived almost 4 years from first discovering the lump in my neck.

Some Agent Orange VA Disability Advice for Vietnam Vets
It turns out that Agent Orange is a presumptive cause of lymphoma for Vietnam veterans.  I figured this out after my treatment, but I filed a VA disability claim anyway and have now been found by the VA to be disabled, albeit with a current "O rating". Small consolation, but should the cancer return I will receive disability compensation upon filing an amended claim. (Generally, VA does not provide disability compensation while lymphoma is in remission unless there are clear "residual effects" from the disease or the treatment).  

Based on my experience IF you have a relative or friend who served in Vietnam I encourage you to:
  1. Make sure they are aware of the LONG list of presumptive diseases for Agent Orange related VA disability benefits [See VA page HERE] AND 
  2. File a claim with VA if they have medical evidence of any of those presumptive conditions, even if disease is in dormant or early stage. Getting the VA disability determination made, even if it is a "0 rating" will make it much easier/faster to file an amended claim should the disease reappear or become more severe at a later date.
BTW-I have had an excellent experience dealing with the Portland VA office, much better than when I had in Detroit when I got home from Vietnam. Veteran's Service Organizations like American Legion etc are available at VA Office in downtown Portland to help veterans file claims, and dealing with VA actually took less time that getting my medical records from Kaiser.

I plan on enjoying the rest of the summer, and I hope you do also.