Well, as you readers know, I officially went off chemo last week, after 52 weeks in 14 months (minus several weeks for pneumonia and the two PET scans). Yes, I had ended Taxol, the more toxic and side-effecty of my medications, in March when my first PET was normal, but my tumor markers were still high (54, of a recommended high of 37), and so I continued with Navelbine as well as Herceptin. The Navelbine allowed my hair to start growing back, but I did still have to give myself shots (4 days a week instead of 6—a "sterile environment" in which to inject myself was pretty much in name only while we were camping) and take anti-nausea meds, and Bactrim to guard against recurrent pneumonia. My hair has been coming back in, and it's doing it pretty nicely except for a weird patch at the nape of my neck where it isn't growing at all, and some apparent male pattern baldness on the top (well, male pattern thinning). This is probably because of the full-brain radiation and the hair may never go back to my former thickness, but it probably will. But it will probably take time. In the meantime, I still have my wig, and evidently my mojo. Saturday night after attending a bachelorette party, I stopped for doughnuts at our local supermarket (they were awful, by the way), wearing my goin' out black dress, some red strappy patent sandals and the aforementioned wig, and as I was walking (okay, strutting, as one can't help doing in goin' out clothes) from the car into the store, a guy walking out with a bag of beer and chips said, in a totally nice, non-creepy way, "You are BEAUTIFUL!" I said "Thank you!", and thought "Little do you know, charming frat boy." My neuropathy has likewise resolved so my toes and fingers don't tingle anymore.
Anyway, I didn't have my tumor marker (test number CA27.29) result yet last week when I met with Dr Specht because of the usual delay (I have no idea why there is this delay, but I'm assuming it has something to do with having to mix the blood with something, or age it, or whatever), but since the CT and the PET were both non-alarming, we went ahead and stopped chemo completely, in a conversation that went something like this:
Dr Specht: "I'm guessing you wouldn't mind taking a break from chemo for awhile."
Me: "Uh, yeah. I wouldn't mind." <sniff>
Today, however, that CA27.29 was ready, and it was 35! 35!!!! That, if you will remember from all my discussions of 37 being the goal, is LOWER THAN THE UPPER END OF NORMAL. Clunky designation for a number, but I'll take it. It turns out that it really was only 1008 last May, and not 1015, as I've somehow recently believed. Trying to toot my own horn, I guess.
While I have your attention, I will also say that my left eye, which had showed minor issues, has completely resolved and is very healthy. My right eye, while I am still having to do drops every morning and evening (surprising how difficult it is to remember that), is definitely better. I am still seeing distortion from a cyst of liquid just under my focal center, but the cyst is shrinking.
Also, I missed a month of riding lessons in July (although added in the 8 days of trail riding), and so today's lesson allowed me to really see how totally buff I am after 4 hours of exercise a day while I was in Idaho. My lesson, starting and stopping and trotting and cantering and stopping and cantering and walking and trotting and cantering etc was easy. And sure, it was only 62 degrees today, but I wasn't even warm. I hope I can maintain this level of fitness for awhile without the 4 hours of hiking/riding every day. Because it's awesome.